The Tennessee Titans begin life without Derrick Henry when they visit the Los Angeles Rams as part of NFL Week 9 action.
Titans to Focus More on Passing Game Moving Forward
The Rams are in a battle with the Cardinals for the NFC West, with both teams coming into Week 9 with a 7-1 record. Los Angeles gets a break on Sunday when they face a Titans team that is without NFL leading rusher Derrick Henry due to a foot injury.
L.A. has rattled off four wins in a row since their 30-27 loss to the Cardinals in NFL Week 4. Tennessee is also on a four-game win streak, but the degree of difficulty ramps up a bit without Henry. The Titans have potential in their passing game, but can it be enough to beat a really good Rams squad?
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Henry had rushing games of 182, 157, 130, and 143 this season, so obviously, he’s a dominant asset that will be missed. Jeremy McNichols will get the first crack at the starting job, but he has just seven carries on the season. The team also signed Adrian Peterson this week as the veteran turned down “Dancing with the Stars” for a shot to fill Henry’s shoes.
Regardless of who is running the ball, the pressure falls on QB Ryan Tannehill to preserve a pretty lofty lead in the AFC South. The 6-2 Titans have a nice cushion over 4-5 Indianapolis (who they’ve beaten twice), so a loss to the Rams on Sunday isn’t the worst thing in the world.
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It should be another big outing for Rams QB Matthew Stafford against a Titans defense that ranks 24th in the league giving up 267.4 ypg through the air. Tennessee did a good job of holding Carson Wentz to 27/51 passing last week with 3 TD and 2 INT, but Stafford is playing on another level with 10 TDs to 1 INT the last three games.
The L.A. defense also gets a break not having to face the battering ram that is Derrick Henry. Los Angeles hasn’t put up their usual dominant numbers on that side of the ball, ranking 21st giving up 367.5 ypg, but they also got way more intimidating in trading for edge rusher Von Miller this week.
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The Titans have covered the number in four straight games, but that’s going to be tough to continue against a Rams squad that is 3-1 at home this season. Tennessee is 4-1 ATS their last five as a road underdog, though, and the over has also hit in 10 of their last 11 road tilts.
The Rams just missed covering the whopping -17 point spread in last week’s 38-22 win over the Texans, but they’ve also gone 13-3 ATS in their last 16 following an ATS loss. The under is 13-3 in L.A’s last 16 as a home favorite.
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BetUS has the Rams as -7 point underdogs, and BetOnline has the hook with Los Angeles at -7.5. It’s hard to tell if that’s a solid number or not for the simple fact that we don’t know what the Titans will look like without Derrick Henry.
McNichols is an unproven RB, but Peterson could give the Titans a legitimate boost running behind a very good Tennessee offensive line. Von Miller (ankle) is questionable to make his Rams debut as well, which only helps the Titans.
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The Titans had their big game last week in securing the season sweep over Indianapolis to go up four games in the loss column in the AFC South, thanks to the tiebreaker. Therefore the Titans could easily have a letdown game here, especially as they revamp their game plan without Henry.
The Rams could also be on cruise control here, as their opponents in the last three games have been the Giants, Lions, and Texans, who have a combined 3-21 record.
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The loss of Henry hurts, but this is still a Titans offense that has A.J. Brown and Julio Jones in the passing game. The public will be hammering the Rams as they give Tennessee no credit without their top weapon. In a nationally televised game, it’s best to fade and take Tennessee +7.
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