Roll with the road teams in this weekend’s NFC South tilts.
Tennessee Titans (-4.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
This is a fairly generous spread in favor of Tennessee. The Titans come into this tilt off back-to-back wins against the Broncos and Chiefs, while the Jaguars have lost nine straight and just fired head coach Gus Bradley following their loss at Houston in which they blew a double-digit lead.
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The Titans have the upper hand in the trenches against Jacksonville. Tennessee’s rushing attack led by DeMarco Murray is third-best in the NFL, and they’ll be matched up against the Jaguars’ 21st-ranked run stoppers. By contrast, Jacksonville will likely struggle to move the ball on the ground, as their 24th-ranked rush attack squares off with the Titans’ seventh-best run prevention unit.
Tennessee should also give Blake Bortles fits when he drops back to pass. The Titans have 34 sacks this year, while Jacksonville’s O-Line has given up an alarming 30 sacks on the season. Look for the Titans to crush the bottom-feeding Jaguars while keeping pace in the AFC South race.
The pick: Titans -4.5
Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) at Carolina Panthers
Atlanta has been overwhelming opponents with their offensive firepower all season, and that should be the case again in Carolina this Saturday.
The Matt Ryan-led Falcons attack gains the second-most YPG in the league and is the runaway leader in PPG at 33.5. The Panthers were able to hold the Redskins to 29 rushing yards on Monday, but they’ll face a much sterner test in the form of backfield tandem Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman in this tilt. And when Ryan needs to go through the air, he’ll face little resistance in the Panthers’ league-worst pass prevention squad.
Expect Atlanta to squash what little chance Carolina has to squeak into the playoffs this week.
The pick: Falcons -2.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-3)
Tampa Bay has turned heads in recent weeks, beating Kansas City, Seattle, San Diego and these New Orleans Saints before dropping a close one to the Cowboys on Sunday night. The way the Bucs went about beating the Saints in Tampa, suffocating Drew Brees and company while allowing just 11 points, was very impressive. The venue changes on Saturday but there’s not much evidence to suggest the Saints can turn the tables on their division rival after losing to them less than two weeks ago. In fact, the Saints are 1-4 ATS in their last five games when playing Tampa Bay and 1-4 ATS in their last five as a home favorite.
If Week 14’s clash was any indication, Brees will have trouble moving the chains and can be baited into making mistakes (he threw 3 INTs in that clash). He also won’t have his running backs to bail him out, as Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower combined for just 46 yards on 13 carries in Week 14. Meanwhile, Jameis Winston can afford to take chances down the field trying to find his favorite target, Mike Evans, as the Saints have tallied just seven INTs all year.
The pick: Buccaneers +3
Best of the rest (picks in bold)
New York Jets @ New England Patriots (-16.5)
Washington Redskins (-3) @ Chicago Bears
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers (-6.5)
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills (-3.5)
San Diego Chargers (-6) @ Cleveland Browns
Indianapolis Colts @ Oakland Raiders (-3.5)
Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks (-7.5)
San Francisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Rams (-3.5)
Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans (-1.5)
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-5)
Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5)
Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys (-7)