Two teams fighting for their playoff lives will get Week 16 underway when the Tennessee Titans face the Washington Redskins. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 EST on Saturday, December 22, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Fans can watch the game on the NFL Network.
The Titans have opened the week as 10-point favorites at home. The over/under is set at 37 points. Click here for a full list of the Week 16 betting odds.
Against all odds, the Redskins remain in the playoff hunt. After losing games four in a row, losing two quarterbacks to season-ending injuries along the way, Washington scored a massive road win against the Jaguars last week to get to 7-7. That win kept the Redskins alive in both the NFC East race and the wild-card picture.
As it stands, Washington is tied with the Eagles, one game behind the Cowboys for the top spot in the NFC East and half a game behind the Vikings for the last wild-card spot. After playing the Titans this week, the Redskins end the season by hosting the Eagles next week. They will still need a little outside help, but winning both games will give the Redskins a great chance to make the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Titans have won three games in a row to keep their playoff hopes alive. Last week’s shutout win over the Giants was arguably their most impressive win of the season. However, Tennessee remains in a three-way tie with the Ravens and Colts for the one remaining wild-card spot in the AFC. As it stands, Baltimore owns the tiebreaker, giving the Titans plenty of work to do.
As luck would have it, the Titans host the Colts to close out the season in Week 17. That will give Tennessee a chance to knock their division rivals out of the picture. However, the Titans still need to win their final two games and hope that Baltimore loses one of their two remaining games in order to return to the playoffs.
Admittedly, the Titans are coming on strong and have won their last two games by wide margins. But I’m still not sure if I trust them to cover a 10-point spread. The Redskins will no doubt be energized by last week’s win. Washington’s path to victory in this game will be a little narrow. However, I like the Redskins to fight enough to keep this game close and beat the spread.
It should be noted that the Titans have beaten three bad teams during their current winning streak. The Jets, Jaguars, and Giants are all flawed teams, so it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that the Titans have won three straight and looked good doing so. Obviously, Tennessee has quality wins from earlier in the year, but I still remain a little skeptical of their recent success.
What concerns me is the Tennessee offense. Scoring 17 points against the Giants last week was nice but not all that convincing. They’ve also become largely reliant on running back Derrick Henry. Over the last two weeks, Henry has rushed for an astounding 408 yards and six touchdowns, with 99 of those yards coming on that one amazing run against Jacksonville. However, that productivity has come out of nowhere. Prior to the last two games, Henry and the Tennessee rushing attack had done nothing spectacular this season, so I’m not convinced it will continue the rest of the season.
Without Henry carrying the Titans the way he’s done the past two weeks, they’re a below-averaging offensive team. On the season, they are only averaging 19 points per game. Marcus Mariota hasn’t been reliable without a strong running game to support him. If the Washington defense is able to focus on stopping Henry and the running game, there’s no guarantee that Mariota will be able to step up and carry the Tennessee offense.
To be fair, the Redskins have plenty of concerns as well. Josh Johnson has taken over at quarterback and only got his first career win last week. However, Johnson played well against the Jaguars. He only threw for 151 yards but he didn’t turn the ball over, which isn’t always easy against the Jacksonville defense. He also used his legs to pick up 49 yards on the ground, something the Redskins didn’t get out of Alex Smith and Colt McCoy.
Obviously, the Tennessee defense won’t be easy to face. The Titans have completely shut down Leonard Fournette and Saquon Barkley the last two weeks, so the Redskins can’t rely on getting much from Adrian Peterson. But the Tennessee defense also struggled against the lowly Jets back in Week 13, so they’ve had their fair share of poor performances. The Titans are also a little banged up in the secondary, which could help open up things for Johnson and the passing game to make some surprising contributions.
Ultimately, I don’t feel comfortable eating 10 points in favor of the Titans. They just haven’t been reliable enough for me to put that much faith in them. After last week’s win, I think the Redskins will come out with renewed confidence and fight, enabling them to at least keep this game close and beat the spread.