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Chargers vs. Titans NFL Week 2: Why underdog Tennessee might be smart play

The Tennessee Titans enter Sunday’s home opener against the Los Angeles Chargers on an eight-game losing streak, their longest since 2014 and tied for the second-longest active in the NFL behind Chicago’s 11 in a row. The Titans are 3-point underdogs and may be without No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins due to injury, yet a few trends point toward a Tennessee cover at a minimum.

This is one of three games in Week 2 featuring winless teams along with Colts-Texans and Giants-Cardinals. Since 2005, when two winless teams play the underdog is 67-37-4 (64%) against the spread.

In addition, #Titans coach Mike Vrabel as an underdog is 24-15-1 ATS, including 23-9-1 when the spread is at least +3. Tennessee is 4-1 SU & ATS in its past five as a home dog and the lone SU/ATS loss was last December when Joshua Dobbs had to start at QB against Dallas with Ryan Tannehill injured.

Derrick Henry could have a big day vs. the Bolts.

This almost surely will be Tannehill’s final season with the Titans, and he might not make it a full year if he plays like he did in the 17-16 Week 1 loss in New Orleans as Tannehill had zero touchdown passes and three picks. It was his first game with zero TDs and at least three picks since his rookie season in 2012, which came against the Titans while Tannehill was with Miami.

Hopkins had seven catches for 65 yards in his Titans debut last Sunday but suffered an ankle injury and is in doubt. Tannehill threw two of his picks targeting Hopkins, the first time the potential future Hall of Famer was targeted on multiple interceptions since 2016.

If no Hopkins that could mean a LOT of Derrick Henry, who was used sparingly in Week 1 for some reason. Since the start of last season, Henry has the most 100-yard rushing games in the NFL (nine), and the Chargers have allowed the most individual 100-yard rushing games allowed (10).

It seems doubtful that the Titans will score at least 28 points on Sunday – they are set at 21.5 points – but the #Chargers have become the fourth team in league history to score at least 28 points in three straight games and lose them all. They lost 31-28 in Denver in Week 18 last year, 31-30 in Jacksonville in the wild card round and then 36-34 last week at home vs. Miami.

#BoltUp likely will be without its second-most important offensive player in running back Austin Ekeler, who is dealing with an ankle injury and hasn’t practiced in full all week. Ekeler has 39 scrimmage TDs since 2021, 13 more than any other NFL player. He is looking to become the first player since Jim Brown in 1957-59 to lead the NFL in touchdowns in three straight seasons.

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