Titans Offense, Derrick Henry Make Tennessee A Solid Road Underdog Option

The Panthers defense has been gashed by opposing running backs this season

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  • The Tennessee Titans (4-4) are 3.5-point road underdogs against the Carolina Panthers (4-3) in Week 9.

  • Titans running back Derrick Henry draws the sixth-worst rush defense and should be able to impose his in-your-face running style.

  • The over has hit 71.4 percent of the time in Carolina’s games this season.

The Tennessee Titans (4-4) are riding a two-game winning streak after churning out a 27-23 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a 23-20 victory against the Los Angeles Chargers. After generating a measly seven points over their previous two games, the Titans elected to bench Marcus Mariota for Ryan Tannehill. They are now 2-0 under Tannehill after starting 2-4 under Mariota and the move has clearly paid off so far.

Tannehill has done a fine job in his two starts at home this season, completing 45-of-63 passes for 480 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception. This week, he will face a Carolina Panthers (4-3) defense that ranks fifth-best against the pass. With a secondary this challenging, Tennessee’s rushing offense should be heavily featured, which fits right into what the Titans love to do offensively.

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Henry’s Edge

The Panthers could struggle mightily in this contest due to the fact that their defense has allowed 135.1 rushing yards per game (27th out of 32 teams), 7.7 rushing first downs per game (28th), and 1.7 rushing touchdowns per game this year. While those numbers are skewed by San Francisco’s domination of them last week, expect Derrick Henry to be fed the ball early and often, which is exactly how Tennessee likes to control the game. 

The Panthers just took a beating by the San Francisco 49ers (51-13) and allowed 232 rushing yards, including 105 for Tevin Coleman, who scored three touchdowns on just 11 carries. It was an embarrassing effort and showed Carolina’s vulnerability against the run.

The Titans would prefer to pound the rock all game and they’re equipped to do so. Tennessee’s offensive line ranks fifth-best in power success rate, converting runs of two yards or less on third or fourth down 75% of the time. Henry is one of the few remaining bellcow backs and should lead the Titans to plenty of scoring opportunities in this one.

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Carolina’s Lone Weapon

With four 100-yard rushing performances over seven chances, Christian McCaffrey is the backbone in Carolina. His average of 5.2 yards per carry and 154 combined rushing and receiving yards per game puts him in elite company. He has accounted for eight rushing touchdowns and two receiving scores and is a threat in the running and passing attacks. It doesn’t seem to matter what defense this all-around star goes against. He just produces.

But, Henry's path towards dominating the game on the ground is much clearer. The Titans impressively rank fourth in the NFL in scoring defense (16.9 points per game) and are best suited to play a ball-control, in-your-face, ground-and-pound style of football.

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What BetQL’s Model Says

Even if McCaffrey has a big day individually, the Titans should be able to keep this game close and should be able to put Carolina on upset alert. BetQL’s NFL Model lists the Titans (+3.5) as the best bet in this matchup.

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