Two teams desperate to get things moving in the right direction will meet up in Week 7 when the Tennessee Titans play host to the Los Angeles Chargers. The game will get underway at 4:05 EST on Sunday, October 20 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Fans in select markets will be able to watch the game on CBS.
At home, the Titans are listed as 2-point favorites. The over/under for the game is set at 40 points. Click here to check out all of this week’s NFL betting odds.
The Titans have all but hit rock bottom after getting shut out in last week’s 16-0 loss to the Broncos. After their surprising Week 1 blowout of the Browns, Tennessee has lost four of five games to fall to 2-4 overall. In fact, last week might have been the last straw for quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill, who has been named the starter for Sunday’s game against the Chargers.
If Tannehill can prove to be the spark the Titans need, there might be time to turn their season around. They are only two games off the pace in the AFC South. This week also kicks off a stretch of four home games in the next five weeks for the Titans, giving them a glimmer of hope.
The Chargers find themselves in a similar situation, except without the change at quarterback. Los Angeles started out with a Week 1 win but has lost four of five games since then. The team’s only win during that stretch came against the lowly Dolphins. Perhaps more distressing is the fact that the Chargers have lost their last three home games. Perhaps going back on the road will be what they need.
Of course, home or road, the Chargers are running out of time. After this week’s trip to Tennessee, the Chargers will play four straight games against teams that currently have a winning record. In other words, this isn’t a game that Los Angeles can afford to lose if they expect to salvage their season and give themselves a fighting chance to make the playoffs.
It seems like there’s never a good choice in these kinds of games between two bad teams that can’t seem to buy a win. But I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt to the home team. The Titans have problems that might be fixable while the Chargers have some systemic issues that are likely to keep popping up. That’s enough to make me lean toward Tennessee being able to win by at least a field goal.
If nothing else, the Titans have a top-10 defense, which isn’t something you can usually say for a 2-4 team. Tennessee is yet to yield more than 20 points in a game. That at least gives them a chance to win every week. On the contrary, the Chargers have been outscored 38-0 in the first half the last two weeks. They’re digging themselves a hole and making it almost impossible to win.
The return of Melvin Gordon from his holdout has done little to help the Chargers. Gordon has rushed for 49 yards total over two games while Austin Ekeler has just 21 yards on eight carries in those two games. Of course, much of the blame for that can fall on the offensive line, which has been dreadful. Not only are they failing to open up any running lanes, but Philip Rivers is being put under pressure, leading him to throw four interceptions over the last two games. Those problems aren’t likely to be fixed against a strong Tennessee defense that has a chance to dominate this game.
Obviously, the Titans are going to need to score a few points if they hope to win and cover. While he wasn’t able to prevent the team from getting shut out, Tannehill wasn’t half bad last week. He completed 13 of his 16 passes for 144 yards and led the offense into the red zone twice. Considering he was sacked four times and entered a game cold in a hostile road environment with his team behind, Tannehill did fine.
More importantly, the Los Angeles defense has been terrible against the run, which is a weakness the Titans should be able to expose. Derrick Henry has rushed for at least 75 yards in four of six games this season. He’s capable of carrying the Tennessee offense and taking a lot of the burden off the quarterback. The caveat is that the Titans need to get him enough touches, meaning they can’t afford to fall behind.
With the Chargers struggling early in games and the Titans having a strong defense, this figures to be a low-scoring game. That should give Henry and the Tennessee rushing attack plenty of time to grow into the game against a weak Los Angeles run defense. If the Titans can run the ball and continue to play good defense, they may not need much from Tannehill. Meanwhile, the Chargers are asking way too much of Rivers, who isn’t getting much help around him. That gives me a fair amount of confidence in the Titans to win and cover.