Recommended Tease: Tennessee and New Orleans

Tease bets: This week we’re recommending a teaser bet, but as always, you should pay close attention to the lines being offered to figure out if it’s better to tease or bet these straight up. We recommended these bets Tuesday, and at the time of writing (Friday afternoon) the lines have shifted greatly. We’re essentially looking to tease:
Favorites between -7.5 and -8.5
Dogs between +1.5 and +2.5
The short answer why is because the teased spread will cross the crucial 3 and 7 point barriers. The longer answer is here.

The two games are:
Pittsburgh @ Tennessee (+2), teased to Tennessee +8
Carolina @ New Orleans (-7.5), teased to New Orleans -1.5

Line watching: Remarkably, the Titans have moved from a 2 point dog from when the model was run Tuesday to a 1 point favorite. The model thinks this game is about a pick em, so I wouldn’t bet anything at this point. The Saints game is still at -7.5, but we’ve since found out that they’ll be without Michael Thomas and Manny Sanders, so I probably wouldn’t bet that straight up either. This is why we recommend betting as soon as we release the picks. Anyway, let’s get into the games.

Pittsburgh @ Tennessee
Recommended Wager: TEN +2
Strength: 2.36

Key Injuries:
Pittsburgh Steelers: (Week 4 bye)
-WR Diontae Johnson (back) was injured week 5 and INACTIVE week 6. He will return week 7.
-RG David DeCastro (abdominal) was injured week 5 and INACTIVE week 6. He will return week 7.
-CB Mike Hilton (shoulder) was injured week 6. He is OUT week 7 after not practicing all week.
IR: RT Zach Banner (season ending – ACL), G Stefen Wisnewski (pectoral), LB Devin Bush (ACL – season ending)

Tennessee Titans: (Week 4 bye)
-WR Corey Davis (COVID-19) is back on the active roster and should play week 7.
-TE Jonnu Smith (ankle) was injured week 6, but will play week 7.
IR: LT Taylor Lewan (ACL – season ending), CB Adoree’ Jackson (knee)

Matchup breakdown:
The Steelers offense is a healthy 9th in both DVOA and EPA/play. Old man/game manager Ben Roethlisberger is averaging just 7.2 yards per target (aDOT), which is 4th lowest in the league, but it freakin works. He’s completing 69.1% of his passes and gaining 7.1 yards per attempt, with a healthy 11:1 TD:INT ratio. WR Diontae Johnson shined in his first two games before dealing with injuries, but he should return in this one. JuJu Smith-Schuster is the slot man/underneath option, while rookie Chase Claypool has been an extremely pleasant surprise — another example of the Steelers just being fucking good at drafting wide receivers. The offensive line is historically dominant, but very banged up and is more of a liability than anything. James Conner will handle the bulk of the carries. The defense is 2nd in DOVA and EPA/play. They’re lead by an insanely talented front 7 that makes up what is easily the best pass rush in football. The back end could use improvement, but Mike Hilton and Steve Nelson are solid corners while Minkah Fitzpatrick is an excellent free safety.

The Titans offense is 3rd in DVOA and 1st in EPA/play. Though I still stand by my take that Tannehill’s statistics under pressure aren’t sustainable, he’s still proving to be every bit worth the $118 million dollar contract the Titans gave him in the offseason. He’s completing 69.9% of his passes, gaining 7.9 yards per attempt, with 13 TDs, just 2 picks, and n overall 89.1 PFF grade. The offensive line took a tough hit after LT Taylor Lewan tore his ACL, and will likely be a weakness of the offense, which isn’t ideal against the Steelers. Even still, they’ll get Corey Davis back from the COVID-19 list, AJ Brown is playing like his normal rookie self, and Derrick Henry is a legit animal. It’s simply not easy to stop this offense no matter how solid your pass rush is.

The Titans defense, on the other hand, is 22nd in DVOA and 24th in EPA/play. Jeffrey Simmons is an extremely talented defensive tackle, both in terms of getting pressure an stopping the run. They’ll also occasionally bring it with Jadaveon Clowney (19 pressures) and Harold Landry (14), but they don’t have enough help to generate consistent pressure. The secondary in particular has struggled — the safety tandem of Kevin Byard and Kenny Vaccaro is supposed to be solid, bot both have struggled.

Carolina @ New Orleans
Recommended bet: NO -7.5
Strength: 2.12

Key Injuries:
Carolina Panthers: (Week 13 bye)
-WR Curtis Samuel (knee) was INACTIVE week 6 after being limited/questionable. He remains limited/questionable for week 7.
-RG John Miller (ankle) is QUESTIONABLE after missing practice Thursday/Friday.
-CB Eli Apple (hamstring) was injured week 4 and INACTIVE weeks 5 and 6. He had previously been out weeks 1-3 with a hamstring injury. He was limited/questionable ahead of week 6. He practiced in full this week and is a fake questionable.
-S Justin Burris (ribs) was injured week 6.
IR: RB Christina McCaffrey (ankle — short term), DE Yetur Gross-Matos (ankle)

New Orleans Saints: (Week 6 bye)
-WR Michael Thomas (ankle/hamstring) was INACATIVE weeks 2 – 4 and SUSPENDED week 5. He was good to return with the ankle injury, but injured his hamstring in practice and is OUT week 7.
-G Nick Eaton (concussion) was injured week 5. He is OUT after missing practice all week.
-CB Janoris Jenkins (shoulder) was INACTIVE weeks 4 and 5. He has not practiced since the injury.
IR: WR Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19), LB Kiko Alonso (knee)

Matchup breakdown:
The Panthers offense is middle of the road, sitting at 15th in DVOA and 17th in EPA/play. Check-down Teddy Bridgewater has an aDOT of 7.2, which is tied with Ben Roethlisberger for 4th lowest in the league. Bridgewater is completing 70.5% of his passes and gaining 8.1 yards per attempt, but his turnover worthy play percentage of 3.66% suggests he’s putting the ball in harms way far too often for his low aDOT. The offensive line is bookended by two solid tackles (Russell Okung and Taylor Mortin), but is very weak at the interior positions. Bridgewater will look to Robby Anderson and DJ Moore, who are a solid 1-2 punch at receiver, while Mike Davis has done a fantastic job filling in for Christian McCaffrey, both as a runner and a receiver. The defense is an odd 20th in DVOA and 14th in EPA/play, but given their roster I’m more apt to trust the DVOA stat. Yetur Gross-Matos is one of their better pass rushers, but he’s on IR with an ankle injury. Brian Burns is up to an impressive 20 pressures, but without Gross-Matos he doesn’t have any help. The secondary should return Eli Apple who will pair up with Donte Jackson. It’s not the worst corner duo in the league, but it’s certainly beatable.

Speaking of check-down, Drew Brees is dead last in the league averaging 6.3 yards per target. When we made this bet, the assumption was that Mike Thomas would return, but after injuring his hamstring in practice that will no longer be the case. To make matters worse, Emmanuel Sanders was placed on the COVID-19 list. The Saints offense has shown some life, ranking 10th in DVOA, but they’ll need to get creative without their top 2 receivers. I’d expect RB Alvin Kamara to be involved heavily with Marquez Callaway, Tre’Quan Smith, and TE Jared Cook. The good news for the offense is the line is fantastic and should man handle the Panthers pass rush. The defensive side is even stranger — they rank 8th in DVOA and 21st in EPA/paly — I’d imagine we should just split the difference, but usually the two stats are fairly aligned. They have a decent enough pass rush between Trey Hendrickson (18 pressures), Cam Jordan (17), Sheldon Rankins (11), and Demario Davis (10) and play well against the run (4th in DVOA), but their secondary has struggled immensely.

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