The Tennessee Titans are 14-4 in Ryan Tannehill’s starts, including the postseason. They are 5-0 this year. In their biggest test this season, they blew out the first-place Buffalo Bills, 42-16. Tennessee is coming off a trip to the AFC championship game last season.
There’s no reason to be skeptical of the Titans. Yet, the line for this week’s game expresses a lot of it.
You don’t see a 5-0 team getting points at home too often. The Pittsburgh Steelers are 5-0 too, and they’re a 2.5-point favorite at Tennessee. Now is a time to look at overreactions and recency bias in NFL point spreads.
A week ago, in some lookahead lines for Week 7, the Titans were 1 or 1.5-point favorites over the Steelers. Pittsburgh, which was under the radar for a 4-0 team, blew out the Cleveland Browns 38-7 in Week 6. The Titans won in overtime over the Houston Texans, getting a game-tying touchdown with four seconds left in overtime.
And those two results changed the line by 3.5 or 4 points.
Outside of a major injury, it’s hard to argue one week’s worth of results should change an NFL point spread that much. The Titans aren’t much worse and the Steelers aren’t much better than they were a week ago. Perceptions changed based on what we saw most recently. The Steelers looked great. The Titans escaped. The nature of the NFL, with its immense popularity and a week between games, gets dissected like no other sport. Every week seems like a seismic shift. Generally, it’s not.
The Steelers are very good. They were a great value at 30-to-1 to win the Super Bowl before the season, and the current line at 9-to-1 at BetMGM reflects that. Maybe they are good enough to go on the road and beat a Titans team that has proven itself to be very good. But I’ll fade the recency bias and overreaction and take the Titans getting those 2.5 points. You won’t find an opportunity to take a 5-0 team as a home underdog too often.
Here are the picks for Week 7 of the NFL season, with lines from BetMGM:
What a bad game. Watching the Giants struggle with Washington and needing to defend a two-point conversion to win finally drove the point home: New York is one of the worst teams in football, and it’s not going to get much better.
The Browns are a good team. The Bengals have been a good bet against the spread this season, but that’s because a lot of their lines have been too high. I’m fine having to lay just a field goal with a strong Browns team.
The Cowboys are bad. But we knew that a week ago when the Cowboys were 3-point favorites on the lookahead line for this game last week. Washington is just not good and I can’t take them as a favorite.
I’m not convinced the Falcons are good just because they changed coaches. I need to see it again.
Maybe Michael Thomas’ presumed return changes the Saints. But to this point, there aren’t many signs they are the elite team we expected this year. The Panthers were on a nice roll before stalling last week against the Bears, and I think they can keep it close.
As the lines go up and up on Jets games — some books have posted a lookahead line of +22 for the Jets’ Week 8 game against the Chiefs — it’ll get harder to auto-fade the Jets. I’m still going to keep doing it.
The Packers’ next step will be proving they can light up a good defense. The Buccaneers were the first good defense the Packers played this season, and they got shut down. The Texans have a horrible defense, so this is a good rebound spot for Green Bay.
The Cardinals are up and down. Maybe we’ll get the good Cards on Sunday. But it’s hard to go against Russell Wilson. At least taking the Seahawks will keep my blood pressure down when Wilson is doing MVP things.
Interesting game. The Patriots typically bounce back well after losses. If they can’t do it this week, we’ll know the Patriots really might be in trouble.
It has not been profitable to pick against the Chiefs, to say the least. But the line seems high. If Drew Lock is less rusty and plays better, maybe this one will be close.
Finally this seems like a line that reflects how bad the Jaguars are. Hope you cashed in on some bad Jags lines the past few weeks because maybe that run is ending and the books have adjusted. Jacksonville is a really bad team.
This is a fun matchup. The Buccaneers don’t have a glaring weakness. But I’ll buy into the Raiders being legit. They have some good wins on their resume and had a chance to recharge on a bye.
I’m skeptical of the Bears’ 5-1 start, and so are oddsmakers. Chicago keeps games close and there’s the nagging thought that the Rams are 4-0 against the NFC East and 0-2 against everyone else.
Last week: 7-7
Season to date: 49-39-2
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