STAR PREVIEW Sun: Tennessee Titans v New Orleans Saints

ANDY RICHMOND is a lifelong punter and sports enthusiast who now writes extensively on horse racing and the NFL. His CV includes long spells on Timeform Radio and Racing UK having previously held several positions at the then-fledgling Betfair Exchange where he worked for six years. He has a particular love for the statistical and analytical side of sports which fits in well with the NFL. He writes all the NFL content on Paul Jones subscription service as well as having his own betting advisory service.

No Derrick Henry, no problem for the Titans who kept their winning momentum going with another massive victory last week over the Rams. That meant that without their talismanic running back they had beaten another of the NFL elite having already defeated Buffalo, Kansas City and Indianapolis in what now amounts to a five-game winning streak.

Now they face the Saints at home looking to keep their impetus at full throttle against a side that have problems of their own having lost quarterback Jameis Winston two weeks ago to an ACL injury and are now without Alvin Kamara at running back; a vital loss. New Orleans come into this of the back of a defeat also going down 27-25 to the Falcons at home last week in a game where they were never as close to winning as the score line makes out. They trailed late in the 4th quarter and it was only the porous and fragile nature of the Atlanta defence in prevent mode that saw them get so close.

The Saints finished 3 for 11 on third and fourth downs with Trevor Siemian at quarterback and are now without Kamara due to a knee injury. I don’t expect to see Siemian take every snap though and Swiss Army knife quarterback Taysom Hill is sure to be on the field for plenty of snaps although he only threw two passes last week Hill is a dangerous part of the Saints offence and you never quite know what you are going to get when he’s on the field.

With no Kamara to rely on in their backfield it looks as though Mark Ingram will be in for a full slate of snaps at running back and with Siemian in at quarterback for the most part it will be the ground game that the Saints will be looking to. To be honest the Saints are rather “thin” at wide receiver in the Week 9 loss to Atlanta it was almost receiving by committee and none of their component parts at that position stand out at all.

The Titans for their part are just about the hottest ticket in town on defence keeping the free-scoring Rams out of the end zone for 60 minutes until a garbage-time score was added. They certainly played havoc with Matthew Stafford the Rams quarterback last week forcing him into two interceptions and sacking him five times after he came into the game with the lowest sack rate in the league.

They are playing an aggressive style of defence and could well be in Siemian’s face often especially if the Saints don’t get the run game going via Ingram. The Saints have struggled to manufacture offence on the road this season and historically do much worse compared to being at home in the Superdome.

Offensively Tennessee only managed 194 yards last week and without Henry their focus on offence has to change as he’s impossible to replace and here they come up against a Saints run defence that is only allowing 73.8 yards per game. It looks as though offensive coordinator Todd Downing wants to maintain the same run-heavy approach they’ve had this season but will he be able to given those Saints run defence numbers.

Trying to replace Henry is no easy job and the Titans answer looks to be let’s do it by committee with Jeremy McNichols, Adrian Peterson, and D’Onta Foreman forming a three-headed running back combination. Veteran Peterson actually needs one TD to pass Walter Payton (125) and tie Jim Brown (126) for 10th on the all-time list. The Titans need to maintain patience with the running game as it sets up so much that they do in the passing game via play-action.

The Saints defence will be looking to rebound here having conceded 27 points for the second straight week against the Falcons and if the Titans get near that total they should be close to winning the game. Given their problems in the run game and who they come up against here the Titans will be looking to move the ball through the air and when they are fit Tennessee have two excellent wide receivers in Julio Jones and A.J. Brown.

Brown has had his injury problems this year and he’s sure to draw the coverage of the Saints top cornerback Marshon Lattimore whilst Jones came out of the last game healthy but he was limited in Thursday’s practice, then sat out Friday’s session entirely. The Saints have allowed some deep shots into their secondary of late but will the Titans be able to take advantage. Given the “limitations” of Brown and Jones it may be worth taking a look at any props you can find on the Titans third receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, he’s already scored a couple of TD’s this year and the 9-2 on offer for him to add a third makes some appeal.

Trust is very much a key word in this match up and as we saw last week with some of the crazy results around the NFL it really is at times a case of Any Given Sunday. It’s generally been the case that the team that looks hot in the AFC immediately blows cold the minute that they are fancied and believe it or not, Sunday will be the first time Tennessee plays as a favourite in over a month. Further clouding the picture are the facts that the Titans are 5-0 ATS in their last five games but the Saints have already won three times as an underdog this year and 7-1 ATS as a road underdog since 2018.

The Saints have been an enigma wrapped up in a riddle this year and if it’s trust we are talking then the Titans win that battle nine times out of ten and it’s best to trust them to win this one. They are playing as a team (even without Henry) have the better quarterback in Ryan Tannehill and a defence that appears to have discovered it’s mean streak.

BACK Tennessee Titans -3.5 handicap 2pts at 11/10 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Nick Westbrook Ikhine to score a TD 1pt at 9/2 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Ryan Tannehill to score a TD 1pt at 4/1 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

PROFIT/LOSS (NOVEMBER 2021): LOSS -10.16 points
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