The Tennessee Titans travel to Charlotte to face Christian McCaffrey and the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in a critical game for both teams.
The Tennessee Titans are riding on their two-game win streak when they visit the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday. The Panthers are coming off an embarrassing 51-13 loss against to the San Francisco 49ers last week and are looking to right the ship in Week 9. The game kicks off at 12:00 P.M. CDT on CBS.
Let’s take a look at the odds, injuries and weather for this game.
Betting odds and lines
Despite the Panthers looking abysmal last weekend against the Niners, the oddsmakers set the spread with the Panthers at 4.5-point favorites, courtesy of The Action Network. The Titans’ recent wins, as well as the absence of quarterback Cam Newton, must have swayed bettors, as the line has come down, with Kyle Allen and the Panthers sitting at 3.5-point favorites.
The money line favors the Panthers (-190) against the Titans (+165). Currently, 59 percent of the bets are on the Titans’ moneyline.
The over/under is at 42 points, highlighting the low-scoring affair that the oddsmakers predict. With the Titans posting the fourth-best scoring defense and 24th-ranked scoring offense, it’s not hard to see why the over/under is low. While the Titans are averaging 18.5 points per game this season, points should come a little easier against the Panthers’ 24th-ranked scoring defense.
The injury reports are out and both teams are missing a few key players. Three of the Titans’ starters are out in DT Jurrell Casey, C Ben Jones, and TE Delanie Walker. While G Rodger Saffold exited last week’s game with a concussion, he has cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol and is off the injury list this week.
Jones is missing his first game as a Titan, and had started 88 consecutive games dating back to his time as a Texan. The Titans are thin at the offensive line this season. Backup tight end Jonnu Smith did a good job last week filling in for Walker and should be expected to fill the starting position this week.
Notable for the Panthers on the injury list is QB Cam Newton and T Greg Little, who are both ruled out of the game on Sunday. Panthers’ linebackers Mario Addison and Christian Miller are both questionable for Sunday’s game after Friday’s practice. While Addison did not practice, Miller was able to see limited action in practice on Friday.
The game is expected to be in perfect football conditions with the temperatures in the high 50s. The sunny forecast with light winds should allow both teams to be relatively unaffected on Sunday. It might be a perfect day to take a road trip to see the game in person.
The Heisman rematch: Henry and McCaffrey
Back in 2015, Alabama junior Derrick Henry and Stanford sophomore Christian McCaffrey both were finalists for the Heisman Trophy. Henry edged out McCaffrey for the trophy after breaking Herschel Walker’s SEC record for most rushing yards.
A recent report suggests McCaffrey is not over the 2015 result.
Both Heisman candidates will be on the field on Sunday as key pieces for their teams’ offenses. The two offenses hinge on their ability to run. The Titans rely on Henry to shuttle the offense, but have had a relatively pedestrian season. The Titans are averaging 98.2 rushing yards per game, putting them 20th in the NFL.
Luckily for the Titans, the Panthers enter the game ranked 27th against the run, giving up 135.1 yards per game on the ground. The Titans will want to push Henry into the Panthers’ weak rush defense to help set up play action and keep the clock running.
On the other side of the field, the Panthers’ All-Pro LB Luke Kuechley is a monster anchor for the Panthers’ defense. Kuechley will be focused mostly on Henry, particularly with the absence of a major threat in the middle of the field with Walker out for Sunday’s game. Kuechley is ranked sixth in the NFL in total tackles, with one safety and three tackles for loss. It will be vital for the Titans to keep Kuechley in check.
The Panthers have McCaffrey firing on all cylinders. McCaffrey is fourth in rushing yards with 735 yards, but has scored eight rushing touchdowns already. He’s a real threat as a pass catcher from the backfield. McCaffrey has 343 yards receiving with two touchdowns. The Panthers have capitalized with McCaffrey this year, using him as the focal piece of the Panthers’ offense.
The Titans will need to deploy Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans to take away McCaffrey in the open field. Brown’s coverage skills have been on display all year and can really shut him down on passing downs. With Casey out, DaQuan Jones will be pressured to clog up the interior of the defensive line.
The team that can get the most out of their rushing offenses should be going home happy on Sunday. It will be interesting to see the defensive-minded head coaches in Mike Vrabel and Ron Rivera try to limit each other’s run games.