The Tennessee Titans hope that a trip out of the country will help them solve some of their recent problems as they face the Los Angeles Chargers in London. Game time is set for 9:30 EST on Sunday morning, October 21, at Wembley Stadium. The game can be seen in all markets on CBS.
According to the Week 7 NFL odds, the Chargers are 6.5-point favorites. However, that line has come down slightly after the week began with Los Angeles as a 7-point favorite. The over/under for the game is set at 45 points.
After such a promising 3-1 start to the season, the Titans now see their season starting to spiral out of control. Tennessee has lost back-to-back games to the Bills and Ravens. The offense has completely disappeared for Marcus Mariota and company, who were shutout last week and haven’t found the end zone since the 4th quarter of Week 4.
With the consecutive losses, the Titans are now in a three-way tie atop the AFC South with the Texans and Jaguars, who like the Titans are 3-3. After their trip to London this week, the Titans have a bye, so they certainly don’t want to head into their week off on the heels of three straight losses. When they return from London, the Titans play three of their next four games on the road, so it’s vital that they win this week or their season could really start to nosedive.
The Chargers, meanwhile, are feeling good with three straight wins on the trot. The last two weeks, Los Angeles has won quite comfortably, beating the Raiders 26-10 and then blowing out the Browns on the road 38-14. The Chargers are now 4-2 on the season, with those two losses coming against the Chiefs and Rams, so they’ve only been beaten by the best.
Of course, the Chargers still lag a game behind the Chiefs for the top spot in the AFC West. Needless to say, they can’t afford to lose too many games if they want to keep up the pressure on Kansas City. They also don’t want to see their winning streak end ahead of next week’s bye, so they should be motivated to leave London with a win.
The Tennessee offense might as well be in the witness protection program after the last two weeks. Unless the Titans can land in London with a new identity, this looks like another long day for them. There should be no more doubts about how good the Chargers are after the last few weeks. They’re good enough to make me swallow the 6.5 points and lean toward Los Angeles to cover.
The Titans were historically bad on offense last week. To be fair, Baltimore’s defense is good. But the Titans only managed 106 total yards in the game, and that was at home to boot. Mariota was sacked 11 times, which nearly set an NFL record. The Ravens are good, but they’re not that good. There is something seriously wrong with the Tennessee offense, which is now ranked 30th in the league in points.
It starts with the running game, which is not getting it done on 1st and 2nd down. Both Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry are averaging well below four yards per carry. That duo is also gaining just 71 yards per game, with the Titans relying on Mariota’s legs to supplement a dreadful rushing attack. It’s that lack of success in the running game that is inviting the pressure on Mariota and the biggest reason why he was sacked so many times last week.
The Titans will get a little break this week because the Los Angeles defense probably isn’t quite as good as the Baltimore defense they faced last week. However, the Chargers have done a good job of containing the running game during their winning streak. They also have an excellent pass rush that has 16 sacks in six games. That makes me think that Tennessee’s offensive problems are likely to continue this week.
If the Titans are going to have any chance in this game, their defense is going to have to be at their best. The Titans are actually 3rd in the NFL, giving up less than 18 points per game. But they’ll face a stiff challenge this week. The Chargers are one of the best running teams in the NFL behind Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler, who are both averaging better than five yards per carry. At times, the Tennessee defense has been vulnerable against the run, so they could have their hands full this week.
With the Chargers running the ball with ease, Philip Rivers is thriving. He’s not forcing the ball, which is allowing him to limit his turnovers. Rivers also has Gordon and Ekeler as useful targets in the short passing game with Tyrell Williams being an occasional deep threat. That’s an offense with good balance, which is a big reason why the Chargers have scored no less than 23 points in every game this season.
In the end, I don’t see the Titans turning things around offensively or being able to do enough on defense to keep this game close. Unless Tennessee can do a 180-degree turnaround from last week, this game could get ugly. I like my chances with the Chargers covering the 6.5-point spread.