The frozen tundra of Lambeau Field will live up to its moniker for Thursday Night Football, as temperatures in the 20s and wind chills in the mid-teens await the Tennessee Titans and the Green Bay Packers. Both teams are coming off nice wins, so they’ll hope to keep the momentum rolling on a short week.
Steady money on the Packers has pushed this line out to a field goal and beyond in some places, while the total has stayed put for the most part throughout the week.
Throughout the season, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on every game. Check back for picks for the rest of Week 11 as we get closer to kickoff.
Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: Two bad offensive teams meet on Thursday night with some challenging weather conditions. Chilly temperatures with a little bit of a breeze are nothing new to Aaron Rodgers, but extreme cold is not really up Ryan Tannehill’s alley. Neither passing attack projects to do particularly well here and both defenses have done well against the pass, as Green Bay ranks ninth in Dropback Success Rate and Tennessee ranks 11th. The Packers are also 10th in Dropback EPA; the Titans are 11th.
With two above-average pass defenses and the rough conditions, this should be a ground-and-pound fest. The Packers have actually found their running game recently, rushing for over 200 yards in Week 8 against the Bills and last week against the Cowboys. You may not realize it because Derrick Henry’s name carries a lot of weight, but the Packers are the vastly superior rushing attack, ranking 10th in Rush EPA and fourth in Rushing Success Rate. The Titans are 25th and 23rd, respectively, in those categories.
That’s one of the reasons why we see this line moving towards Green Bay, even though conventional wisdom would suggest that the team with Henry would fare better in a cold, snowy game. That’s especially true because the Titans are actually third in Rushing EPA against and first in Rushing Success Rate against.
Maybe the Packers have found the running game, but this is a much stiffer test against the Titans. I can see why the line moved on Green Bay, but I think the under is the play in this game. Green Bay’s below average rush defense will be helped by being able to fill up the box against a team that has given Henry (202) just 10 fewer carries than the quarterbacks have passing attempts.
Pick: Under 41
Dave Tuley: The Thursday nighter has lost some luster with the slow start by the Packers (4-6), but they are coming off their 31-28 come-from-behind win vs. the Cowboys as 5-point home dogs.
I’ve done very well in Green Bay games whether I’ve been fading them (Week 1 at Vikings, Week 5 vs. Giants, Week 7 vs. Jets and Week 9 at Lions) or backing them (Week 3 at Buccaneers, Week 8 at Bills and Week 10 at Cowboys).
We’re back to fading them here with the Titans, who rebounded from an 0-2 start. They’re 6-1 straight-up since then (7-0 ATS) with the only loss at the Chiefs in Week 9.
Tennessee mostly relies on a strong defense (No. 8 in points allowed at 18.7 PPG) and Henry (second in NFL with 923 rushing yards), thoughTannehill did return to the starting lineup and threw 2 TD passes in Sunday’s 17-10 win vs. the Broncos. That’s the kind of low-scoring game that they’ll try to get into with the Packers here (so I also lean to the Under like my VSiN colleague Adam Burke).
Pick: Titans +3.5
Danny Burke: We have opposite ends of the spectrum featured on Thursday Night Football, as the Packers, who rank 30th in DVOA run defense, are hosting a Titans team that ranks first in DVOA run defense. The good news for the Titans is that they are a team that primarily runs the ball (30.2 times per game to be exact), so you can expect a heavy dose of handoffs against this weak Green Bay run defense. And whether or not it is consistently successful, that strategy should limit any explosive, quick scoring plays. And as for Matt LaFleur’s squad, well, it looks like they finally realized that handing the ball off to your running back, that is averaging over five yards per carry, actually works!
For some reason it took LaFleur this long to realize it, but that strategy paid dividends this past Sunday. Considering it was successful against a top defense in Dallas, perhaps LaFleur goes back to the well with the run game against Tennessee on a short week. Maybe it works for the Cheeseheads, maybe it doesn’t. But, nevertheless, if both these teams stress that strategy early on, then we will have a slower, more methodical game in the beginning stages. Plus, let’s not forget the weather conditions are going to be far from ideal and make throwing the ball all the more painful. This will be a boring first half, and hopefully so much so that we cash our bet.
Play: 1H Total Under 20.5 (-115)