A month can make a world of difference, the Tennessee Titans have learned. After a six-game winning streak with notable victories over the Bills, Chiefs, Colts, Rams, and Saints, the Titans were considered by some to be a dark-horse Super Bowl threat.
That’s not quite the case now that Tennessee (9-5) has dropped three of its last four games, failing to score more than 20 points in any of the four contests. Not only are the Titans on a bit of a slide, they’re not yet guaranteed the AFC South title.
Tennessee is still -800 to win the division at DraftKings, with Indianapolis at +550, thanks in large part to the Titans’ two wins over the Colts (8-6). The Titans hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Colts, but if the Titans go 1-2 and the Colts win their final three games, Indianapolis will wear the divisional crown. An 0-3 finish by Tennessee while the Colts go 2-1 would also flip the division in favor of Indianapolis.
A win over a surging San Francisco team Thursday night — kickoff is at 7:20 p.m. CT — would buttress Tennessee’s playoff hopes, and the Titans would clinch the AFC South this week with a win and Colts loss.
IF Titans win Thursday night…
THEN Cowboys clinch an NFC playoff spot…
AND then Titans win the AFC South IF…
Cardinals beat the Colts Saturday…
Which would clinch an NFC playoff spot for Cardinals.
Got all that?
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) December 22, 2021
49ers enter matchup scorching hot
After a four-game losing streak dropped San Francisco to 2-4, the 49ers turned their season around for the better. Behind a productive offensive attack, San Francisco has won five of its last six games to leap back into the playoff conversation.
Offensive weapon Deebo Samuel, who is listed as a wide receiver, has a rushing touchdown in each of his last five games. He’s proven to be a matchup nightmare as both a wide receiver and running back. Samuel is listed at -110 to score a touchdown on DraftKings. If you want to bet on him scoring, it’s worth shopping around for a better line, as TwinSpires had Samuel to score a touchdown at +107.
Among all players to catch at least 25 passes, Deebo Samuel leads the NFL in yards per reception (17.8).
Among all players to rush at least 25 times, Deebo Samuel leads the NFL in rushing average (6.9).
The most unique talent in the league.
— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) December 21, 2021
The Titans were widely considered 3-point underdogs as of Thursday morning, although FanDuel listed Tennessee as a 3.5-point underdog. There was more variation with the moneyline. TwinSpires and BetMGM had the Titans as +135 underdogs, WynnBET had the Titans at +140, Caesars had +145, DraftKings listed +150, and FanDuel had +156.
Tennessee is 5-2 outright as an underdog this season, although the Titans have lost two in a row as an underdog. San Francisco is 4-1 ATS in its last five games as a favorite.
Titans still banged up
Injuries represent one of the major causes of Tennessee’s recent offensive woes, as running back Derrick Henry remains unavailable and wide receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones continue to deal with injuries. Jones recently returned to action from injury, but failed to make it through last week’s loss to the Steelers without incident.
Jones attended practice Tuesday without going through drills, then went through a full practice Wednesday and is expected to try to play.
As for Brown, his chest injury appears to be healing, as he returned to practice early this week, and his playing status is likely a game-day decision. Having both of those two receivers available could certainly help the Titans’ offense keep up with the 49ers, who have scored at least 23 points in each of their last six games.
The points total sits at 44 at just about every Tennessee sportsbook, although DraftKings lists the over/under at 44.5 points.
Photo: George Walker IV/USA TODAY