Welcome to the 2020 AFC Championship Game, an NFL bettor’s nightmare thanks to the surprise presence of Tennessee Titans and Derrick Henry, the scariest unstoppable force at RB since Bo Jackson was stomping dudes. Using numbers alone, the visitors should be getting even more points in the line…
Tennessee Titans +7½ at Kansas City Chiefs, over/under 53½ points
I mean, we’re talking the 2019 Kansas City Chiefs here, right? The Chiefs are on a 7-0 SU (6-0-1 ATS) run Including the insanity that was the Chiefs’ 51-31 win over the Texans in the divisional which incidentally has Kansas City on a 51-7 run going into this week.
Characterizing the Chiefs defense as the team’s weak point is well-mentioned enough to have become cliché, but isn’t quite100% accurate. True that in the regular season, the K.C. D surrendered 32.5 points points per game against playoff teams – including the 35-32 loss to the Titans in week 10 – but so what? The Chiefs went 4-2 SU/ATS in those games. A look at Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric should be enough to scare most NFL bettors away from taking the Chiefs minus the points: 14th overall, 6th against the pass and … 29th against the run.
And here comes Derrick “Bad” Henry.
All Bad Henry did in that week 10 matchup in Nashville was go for 2 TDs on 23 carries for 188 yards: about *8.2 yards per carry*. Remove his 68-yard breakaway and Henry was still good for 5.5 ypg against a flummoxed Chiefs front. Geez, the Baltimore Ravens were stacking the box with eight and he still tore ’em up for 195 yards on 30 totes. Henry’s performance in this game is the X-factor, the Y-factor and the rest of the alphabet-factor.
And that’s where the numbers break down. The Titans are rolling on intangibles, willpower and a QB who’s somehow 6-0 SU/ATS when he throws for less than 200 yards in the game – including, yes, the week 10 game. Further, Ryan Tannenhill and Tennessee went for less than 90 total passing yards in playoff wins against the defending champion New England Patriots and no. 1 seed 14-2 Ravens. For the entirety of 2019-20, starting QBs with 90 or fewer passing yards were 4-12 SU (though 7-9 ATS) – and one of those wins was by the Ravens in a week 17 throwaway; the other was by the Arizona Cardinals against the New York Jets. So, yeah.
The truth is, we may have to go off numbers on this one. Rarely has NFLbets enjoyed losing bets on a game as much this season as when watching the Titans handle the Ravens last week. (Whoa, was the Texans-Chiefs game brutal for those crazy enough to cover Houston in any capacity…) Mike Vrabel designed quite frankly kickass game plans and hopefully did not literally have to perform any sort of phallic mutilation to do so. The Titans OL ranks no. 4 in run blocking DVOA, and they’re certain to push around their Kansas City counterparts for Henry again.
Finally, NFLbets could just write off Henry’s recent unprecedented run – in the last three games, 32 carries for 196.0 yards per plus four touchdowns – as an outlier on borrowed time. But frankly, we’re scared of the man. We’re going to take the Tennessee Titans +7½ at Kansas City. And with the weather expected to be in the 20s but no precipitation, we’ll say take the over on an O/U of 53½ points.
(For those of you into betting longshots, NFLbets will likely throw a few moneys at the Titans ML at a nice +255, but we won’t call that a proper “Best Bet.”)
NFLbets’ Picks of the Week last week: 0-6.
NFLbets this season, all recommended bets: 65-50-1.
–written by Os Davis
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