Week 9 of Sunday’s NFL slate concludes with the night game between the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs (-12.5, 46).
The teams have identical 5-2 records, but the Chiefs are double-digit favorites at home. So what can we expect from a betting standpoint Sunday night?
Betting analysts Doug Kezirian, Tyler Fulghum, Joe Fortenbaugh, Anita Marks and Erin Dolan, fantasy and sports betting analysts Eric Moody and Andre Snellings, ESPN Stats & Information’s Seth Walder, ESPN analyst Jason Fitz and Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz provide their top plays for the matchup.
Note: Lines from Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise indicated.
The Titans have won five straight games after starting the season 0-2. They’re also 5-2 ATS, covering in their last five games and in low-scoring affairs (five of seven games went to the under). While the Chiefs have the better record straight up, they haven’t been the best at covering the spread this season (3-7 ATS). However, they have played tighter games when facing other AFC opponents (four AFC matchups settled by four points or fewer). What are your thoughts on the spread and the total (Chiefs -12.5, 46.5) for this game and who are you taking?
Schatz: Another year, another Titans team that doesn’t do as well in advanced metrics as its win-loss record would indicate. But the Titans do well enough to make this line too large if they have Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. The Titans have a top-10 defense by DVOA and should be able to reign in Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs attack just a little bit. They should be able to score a little bit on a Chiefs defense that ranks 24th in DVOA. Kansas City is the clear favorite, but 12.5 points is a lot, especially given the way the Chiefs like to take their foot off the gas pedal with a late lead.
The NBA season is here. Sign up for ESPN Fantasy Basketball today! Play for free
Snellings I agree with Schatz that Tannehill’s presence is a key factor. The spread is entirely too large for the Titans at full strength; they were the top seed in the AFC last season and have won five straight this season. Plus, they have the personnel to implement the defense and overpowering rushing game strategy that they and the Colts have both used to beat the Chiefs in the last two seasons. However, Tannehill was limited in practice on Wednesday and sat out Thursday, which brings his availability into question. I would wait and see, but if Tannehill plays I’d take the Titans and the points.
Moody: I’m backing the Titans and taking the points. Tennessee should continue to lean heavily on Derrick Henry in an attempt to chew up time of possession in order to keep the Chiefs offense on the sideline. The Titans rank sixth in rushing attempts per game (31.4) and ninth in rushing yards per game (138.0). Henry has racked up 563 rushing yards over the last four games. The Titans’ pass rush is good enough — ranking 13th in pass-rush win rate — to disrupt the Chiefs passing game. Over their last 16 road games against a winning home team, the Titans have gone 12-4 against the spread. Tennessee is also 5-2 against the spread in its last seven games in Kansas City. There is a strong chance that this matchup could be closer than bettors think.
Derrick Henry has caused the Chiefs trouble in recent matchups, rushing for 499 yards and four touchdowns in their past four tilts. The Titans are 3-1 against Kansas City dating back to 2018. Do you like Henry to dominate on the ground again, or will the Chiefs defense find a way to stop him?
Schatz: I wouldn’t say Henry is going to “dominate” on the ground, but I think he’s going to have plenty of yardage, especially if the Titans have to turn to Malik Willis at quarterback again. Henry has gone over 100 yards in four straight games and has taken 88% of the Titans’ run plays (not including scrambles) over that period. They feed him the ball and they’re going to do it this week. But the Chiefs defense is not the sieve it has been in some years past. Kansas City ranks better in run defense DVOA (17th) than pass defense (26th), so I don’t think we’re looking at a big game with 150 yards or more for Henry.
Snellings I’m taking Henry over any reasonable rushing and total yards prop because he’s on one of his patented rampages. Over his last five games, Henry has averaged 129.6 rushing yards per game and 157.6 total rushing/receiving yards with six total touchdowns. The Chiefs aren’t all that strong against a punch-you-in-the-mouth rushing attack, and the Titans know they’ll have to get the ball to Henry early and often to try to control the clock and keep Mahomes off the field.
What is your favorite bet for Sunday night?
Fulghum: Win, lose or draw, I’ll play the Chiefs team total over 29.5 points. They’re at home. Andy Reid is coming off a bye. Last time we saw this team, they went to Santa Clara and hung 44 on a 49ers defense that rates as the best in the NFL by many metrics. Mahomes is inevitable and the Titans stand little chance at changing that.