Welcome to the Monday Night Football betting breakdown, where each week I’ll provide a detailed betting overview of the upcoming Monday Night Football game utilizing moneyline, points spread and projected total odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. I’ll also highlight at least one player- or game-based prop each week that I feel has profit potential.
Two squads with elevated expectations heading into 2020 face off in the nightcap of a season-opening Monday Night Football doubleheader. The Titans turned their season around a year ago by making the switch under center from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill, ironically, after a Week 6 drubbing at the hands of the Broncos. That nearly led to a Super Bowl appearance for coach Mike Vrabel’s squad. With Tannehill and 2019 NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry both now signed to lucrative extensions, Tennessee is set to take another stab at an AFC championship.
Then, the Broncos made what turned out to be prudent quarterback change last season as well, one that has them anticipating a notable improvement in 2020. After he recovered from a preseason thumb injury, rookie second-round pick Drew Lock was given the reins of the offense in Week 13. Lock went on to start the final five games of the season, gaining some valuable experience and more than holding his own in the process. After adding Melvin Gordon, Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler this offseason, Lock has an enhanced arsenal to go into battle with in 2020.
All betting takes will be classified as a “pick”, with considerations such as relevant injuries, past betting trends and recent performances of each team leading up to the game factoring in.
For more detailed information on this week’s matchup – including further game analysis, betting trends breakdown, betting tips specific to MNF, and a synopsis of the history of the line movement for the game, please see our Monday Night Football Betting Preview over at TheLines.
Titans at Broncos odds
Once Tannehill took over last season, the Titans often relied on a relatively conservative gameplan that focused heavily on Henry. They frequently leaned on a solid defense as well to limit opponents. Tennessee surrendered an impressive 20.7 points per game, including 17.6 per road contest. This formula worked to the tune of a 7-3 record once Tannehill took over. The veteran quarterback posted a career-best 70.3 percent completion rate and threw a career-low six interceptions.
Henry took a mammoth 303 carries for 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns. The heavy workload didn’t seem to fatigue him much. He put together tallies of 188, 159, 149 and 211 rushing yards in the second half of the regular season. He followed those up with 182- and 195-yard outings versus the Patriots and Ravens in the postseason. Henry did get stymied by the Broncos for 28 yards on 15 carries in last year’s regular-season meeting. However, that was a contest in which Denver had both Von Miller and Chris Harris available. Tennessee also had an ineffective Mariota operating as the starter until Tannehill took over in the second half. Notably, Miller is out for the season following ankle surgery, Harris is now with the Chargers and Mariota sits on the Raiders’ injured reserve list.
Lock is hoping to have No. 1 receiver Courtland Sutton (shoulder) available for this game. The extra day of rest for the Monday night contest should help Sutton’s chances of suiting up. He will have Jeudy and possibly Hamler at his disposal, the latter questionable to play with a hamstring injury but already back to limited practice as of Thursday. However, a young quarterback’s best friend is often a strong running game. In that regard, Lock is in good shape. He has a backfield tandem of a fully healthy Gordon and Phillip Lindsay. Both are versatile backs whose above-average receiving skills give Lock a strong pair of outlet options.
Ultimately, I see a close game unfolding. However, Tannehill’s considerable experience edge should come in handy over a second-year quarterback that’s adjusting to a new offensive coordinator after an abbreviated offseason.
The Pick: Titans moneyline (-150 or better)
MNF Point Spread
Miller’s absence makes an impact on my thinking on the spread for this contest. Without the disruptive linebacker, I can see Tannehill and his offensive teammates naturally having a clearer path to offensive continuity. They should be able to focus on slowing down other members of the defense, including former teammate Jurrell Casey.
The Titans were 8-7-1 (53.3 percent) against the spread last regular season, including 5-3 (62.5 percent) as an away team. Tennessee was also 6-5-1 (54.5 percent) against the number in conference matchups.
The Broncos were 9-7 (56.2 percent) against the spread last regular season, including 5-3 (62.5 percent) as a home team. Denver was also 6-6 versus the number against AFC opponents.
While I still feel the contest will be competitive, I believe a victory of at least three points for Tennessee is certainly conceivable.
The Pick: Titans -2.5 or better
MNF Over/Under Total
This is an especially low total, particularly with Miller unavailable and fellow linebacker Bradley Chubb also likely set for a limited role. Each team also a starting receiver with a questionable designation. Yet there are still enough playmakers on each squad to eclipse the modest number.
The Over was 10-6 (62.5 percent) in the Titans’ regular-season games in 2019, including 5-3 (62.5 percent) in their away games and 7-5 (58.3 percent) in their conference contests.
Then, the Over was 7-9 (43.8 percent) in the Broncos’ regular-season games in 2019, including 4-4 in their home games and 4-8 (33.3 percent) in their conference games.
Tennessee was a very good road offense last season (25.2 PPG) and Denver should be an improved unit, putting me in the camp of the Over.
The Pick: Over 40.5 points or better
Best MNF Prop Bet
Total TDs 1st Half- Over 2.5
The two teams have enough offensive firepower to combine for at least 21 points in the first half. Last season, the Titans offense wasn’t the fastest of starters with an average of 9.8 first-half points per regular-season game. But, the Broncos were better with 10.8 per first half. Additionally, Tennessee finished on a much more consistent note. The Titans notched 14, 14 and 17 first-half points against the formidable trio of the Patriots, Ravens and eventual SB LIV champion Chiefs, respectively, in the postseason.