Two slumping AFC teams will go at it in ‘Smashville’ on Sunday as the Tennessee Titans host the Los Angeles Chargers. The Titans have been something of a mess since opening the season with a shocking (at the time) 43-13 road upset of the Cleveland Browns. They’ve lost 4 of 5 since then and their offense has been the primary reason. After the 43 point outburst against the Browns they’ve scored 17,7,7 and 0 in their four losses with the only game with more than 17 points coming in a 24-10 win over the hapless Atlanta Falcons. The defense has been decent but you can’t win if you can’t score.
The Chargers have been marginally better on defense but not by much. After openng the year with an overtime win over Indianapolis that they probably deserved to lose they’ve also lost 5 of 6. A loss at Detroit doesn’t look as bad as it did after it happened in Week 2 given the Lions’ improvement since then. It’s not possible to put a positive spin on home losses to Houston, Denver and a Roethlesberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers. Their only win since opening day came at Miami.
Of these teams, the Chargers look to have the best chance of reversing their fortunes despite a mounting injury toll. They’ll still have the best quarterback on the field even with Tennessee benching Marcus Mariota and starting veteran Ryan Tannehill. The Titans have averaged a mere 11 points of offense in the five games since their opening win but Tannehill isn’t the kind of quarterback that is going to completely ignite an offense. Los Angeles has Phillip Rivers and that alone makes the Chargers the better team. Much of the Chargers problem has been injury but they’re finally getting players back including tight end Hunter Henry. Melvin Gordon ended his holdout and he’s getting back in game shape. Tennessee might play this game without one of their best defensive players as Jayon Brown suffered a groin injury last week and is listed as ‘questionable’.
LA can take advantage of another one of the Titans’ liabilities that the switch to Tannehill won’t fix–they’ve received miserable play from their offensive line. Throw out their game against the aforementioned hapless Atlanta Falcons and the defensive that will likely cost Dan Quinn his job and Tennessee has allowed 29 sacks in five games. Titans on a 2-7 ATS run in October and are just 8-11 ATS as a dog over the past three seasons. Chargers have cleaned up on the road in recent years going 13-5 ATS away from SoCal including 5-2 SU/5-1-1 ATS as a road underdog of 3 or less. They’ve had no trouble with Tennessee either entering on a 11-2 SU/9-3-1 ATS run against the Titans that includes a 3-2 SU/3-1-1 ATS record in Nashville.