NFL Week 1 Picks: Tennessee Titans vs Denver Broncos Predictions

Ben Gretch previews the Titans vs the Broncos on MNF and provides his best bets and betting picks
Ben Gretch
Mon, September 14, 11:49 AM

Tennessee Titans vs Denver Broncos Predictions

Tennessee Titans -3 @ -110

Under 41 Points @ -110

Just a few short days ago, the Broncos were opening the season as slight home favorites against 2019’s breakout team. Then defensive star Von Miller suffered an ankle injury that will cost him at least Week 1 and potentially the season.

That flipped this game on its head, pushing the Titans all the way to three-point favorites. Prior to the injury, the Broncos were a sleeper team to overperform expectations for many, in part because of the depth of playmakers they put in place around second-year quarterback Drew Lock. But Lock himself hasn’t shown much yet, and Denver didn’t address the backup quarterback position in what was the most quarterback-friendly free agent market in recent memory, settling for journeyman Jeff Driskel as his backup.

That says the Broncos are willing to bank on Lock being good enough to carry their offense, though I’m not sure that’s a smart decision, at least not yet. Denver did go 4-1 in Lock’s five starts to close 2019, but there were some fluky circumstances in a couple of those games. And the Broncos largely protected Lock with a conservative offensive gameplan that limited his responsibility and allowed him to make quick reads and get the ball out underneath. Lock threw 30 passes just twice in those five games, and his average throw depth of just 6.9 yards downfield was very low — 37th highest out of 42 passers with at least 100 dropbacks last season.

On top of that, Lock figures to be without No. 1 receiver Courtland Sutton, who suffered an AC joint injury in practice this week and is questionable for the game. That came after free agent running back Melvin Gordon dealt with a rib issue and reportedly had a poor camp, and rookie second-round pick KJ Hamler has had hamstring injuries limit him. Gordon appears fine, and Phillip Lindsay is a plenty capable backfield alternative if Gordon is limited. But if both Sutton and Hamler miss this game, a presumed deep skill position group will instead be very reliant on rookie first-round pick Jerry Jeudy in a prominent role in his first career game, alongside last year’s first-round pick, tight end Noah Fant.

That’s before we get to line play. With the Titans bringing in Jadeveon Clowney just about a week before the season, they suddenly have an imposing front seven, very capable of generating pressure on the Broncos’ subpar offensive line. Suddenly, Lock isn’t in a position where the team can protect him; he’ll have to really step up if the Broncos are to win.

The Titans closed 2019 with a monster end-of-season run, averaging 7.3 yards per play after A.J. Brown became their clear No. 1 wide receiver in Week 10, with Derrick Henry running roughshod on the league down the stretch. That yards per play figure over a full season would have broken the NFL record, so expecting Tennessee to pick up where they left off is probably a faulty expectation.

Of course, the Titans did continue that impressive run through two postseason road wins before falling in the AFC Championship. And then over the offseason, they brought back Derrick Henry and quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who helped jumpstart the offense after taking over midseason from Marcus Mariota. They didn’t bring back their entire core, however — starting tackle Jack Conklin left for the Cleveland Browns in free agency

But without Miller along the Broncos’ defensive line, Denver’s plus defense now looks a lot more average. Much of the discussion about the Titans all offseason has been around expected regression, but despite that expectation, this should be a lower-scoring contest where their formula may work. The biggest concern I have for the Titans is the altitude, and it’s hard to factor that in here. The shortened offseason and lack of preseason has likely limited player conditioning, and Tennessee gets a tough draw starting the season in Denver, where opposing players sometimes struggle to adjust to the thin air.

This feels like a low-scoring, grind-it-out game, where both teams are content playing slow. The game total is low, but I’m still taking the under, and I’m leaning on the Titans as the superior team on paper to overcome the road circumstances and get the Week 1 win.

Tennessee Titans vs Denver Broncos Latest Odds

Titans @ Broncos Spread: Titans -3

Titans @ Broncos Moneyline: Titants -160, Broncos +150

Titans @ Broncos Over/Under: 41 Points

Titans @ Broncos Key Stats (Powered by StatsChecker)

- Eight of the Bronco's last nine Week 1 home games have gone over the total points line

- The Broncos have lost their last four Monday night games

- The Titans have covered the spread in seven of their last eight Monday night games

Ben Gretch
@YardsPerGretch
Ben knows his football. A fantasy football expert who was most recently seen at CBS Sports, he'll be helping bettors find value ahead in the NFL with OddsChecker.
Jan 2021
Record
Wins
4
Losses
4
Push
0
ROI
28.72%
0Betslip

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