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Pro Handicapper Previews Titans/Bills: Under the Helmet Week 5

Dave Michaels of SportsInformationTraders analyzes surging Tennessee traveling to Buffalo.

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Coming off victories over defending Super Bowl champions and the best team in the AFC – the Eagles and Jaguars – the Tennessee Titans are traveling to Upstate New York to take on the scuffling Buffalo Bills.

Following a shocking upset of the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3, the Bills crashed back to earth against the Packers and were shut out in Green Bay by a defense that has had its issues this season.

The teams seem to be heading in opposite directions, but Vegas still sees Sunday’s matchup between the 3-1 Titans and the 1-3 Bills as a fairly close one and has installed Buffalo as a 4.5-point underdog at home.

That number is somewhat surprising how inept the Bills have been this year, especially on offense.

Averaging just 12.5 points scored per game, Buffalo’s offense is last in the league in yards gained per play on first down (3.1 yards) and last in the league in third-down conversion rate (27.6 percent).

GREEN BAY, WI – SEPTEMBER 30: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills is sacked by Nick Perry #53 and Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers during a game at Lambeau Field on September 30, 2018 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Some of the blame likely falls on the shoulders of rookie quarterback Josh Allen but just as much, if not more, falls on his offensive line. They have allowed 21 sacks through the team’s first four games, the most since 1998, when Buffalo gave up 25 over a four-game span.

On paper, all of those issues project to get even worse this week as the Titans are tied for seventh in the league with 12 sacks and have the sixth-ranked defense in terms of points allowed per game (18.2).

If they are going to have a shot, Buffalo’s defense is going to have shut down Tennessee – and they might actually be able to do it.

NASHVILLE, TN – SEPTEMBER 30: Quarterback Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans plays against the Philadelphia Eagles at Nissan Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Averaging a measly 18.8 points per game (28th in the NFL), the Titans’ offense has struggled to move the ball down the field and quarterback Marcus Mariota, partially because of injury, has really been scuffling and has more turnovers (four) than he does touchdowns (two).

The team’s running game hasn’t really been much help as bell-cow back Derrick Henry has been a huge disappointment, while change-of-pace back Dion Lewis has been a non-factor outside of the passing game.

The combination of two bad offenses – that have already combined for three single-digit scoring performances – and two halfway decent defenses means this game has a good chance of falling short of its over/under number of 39.

At least that’s how handicapper Dave Michaels of SportsInformationTraders sees it.

“The Titans offense is certainly still a work in progress,” Michaels told RealClearLife. “Their defensive line, however, will be the reason they cover the points here. They have gotten better every game since Week 1. And the Bills will, once again this week, have no answer.”

It won’t be a high-scoring affair, but Tennessee will prevail by more than 4.5 points.

“Having been shut out last week in Green Bay, rookie quarterback Josh Allen is going to have to get running back LeSean McCoy going early in order to have a chance,” Michaels said. “I feel this game is a couple of points off, with the Titans primed for an easy cover this weekend.”

After taking the Seahawks at -3 last week, Michaels is now 2-1-1 with his picks as Seattle pushed by beating the Arizona Cardinals 20-17.