Football is back. Let me type that again for dramatic effect: Football is back, baby! After a long and wild offseason, Week 1 of the NFL’s regular season is upon us. This includes the Denver Broncos putting a bow on the first collection of games this season as they will host the Tennessee Titans in the second and final game of Monday Night Football in the season’s first week. 

The last time we saw these two clubs face off against one another came back in 2019, but they were in wildly different positions from where they are now. In that game — a 16-0 win by Denver — Tennessee was in the process of making the switch from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, a move that proved extremely productive as Tannehill was able to light it up the rest of the way and lead the Titans to an AFC Championship appearance. Meanwhile for the Broncos, Drew Lock, who would finish the year as the starter, was still holding a clipboard watching Joe Flacco sling it. 

Looking at this matchup on Monday night, the oddsmakers don’t see this as a high-scoring affair as it’s been given the second-lowest over/under total on the Week 1 slate. The line, however, has swung dramatically in recent days in light of some news coming down on game week. 

Here, we’re going to dive into everything there is to know about this matchup from a gambling perspective to have you betting sharp before kickoff. All odds via William Hill Sportsbook.

How to watch

Date: Monday, September 14 | Time: 10:20 p.m. ET
Location: Empower Field at Mile High (Denver, Colorado)
TV: 
ESPN | Stream: fuboTV (try for free) 
Follow: CBS Sports App

Titans (-2.5) at Broncos 

The line originally opened up with Tennessee as a 2.5-point road ‘dog back in May. That remained the case for the bulk of the summer before September saw the line flip. Following the news coming out this week that star Broncos pass-rusher Von Miller suffered a tendon injury in practice that is likely to sideline him for the rest of the season, Denver is now getting points in this matchup. That’s also not mentioning that fellow Broncos defensive end Bardley Chubb may not be 100% for this game as he continues to recover from a torn ACL from last year and the Titans inking Jadeveon Clowney to add to its pass rush. 

The pick: Titans -2.5. While most clubs will not have the full benefit of a traditional home-field advantage that includes fans in attendance for these games, the Broncos still have the altitude as a key factor for opposing clubs coming into Mile High. When first looking at this contest, that was an attractive play, especially after a summer with no preseason games and limited practice sessions due to the pandemic. That said, the loss of Miller for this contest has me rolling back to laying the points and going with Tennessee to open up the year with a win. Ryan Tannehill (who went 8-4-1 ATS as a starter last season) should now have a clean pocket to work from, and once the Titans jump out to a lead, they can lean on Derrick Henry to ride them the rest of the way. 

Over/Under 41 points 

Outside of Jets vs. Bills coming in at an O/U of 39.5, this is the lowest point total on the Week 1 slate. It dipped a point this week in the aftermath of Clowney signing with Tennessee and hasn’t budged since, which is an indicator by the oddsmakers that the pass rusher should have an immediate impact in the Titans front seven. Because the Broncos averaged 21.4 points a game during Lock’s five-game stretch at the starter to end last season along with the additions of Melvin Gordon and first-round receiver Jerry Jeudy, the Over might be a popular pick with the public. If you like Tennessee here (which I do), it’s not that conducive to roll with the Titans and the Over. If they get up, they’ll just grind it out with Henry, kill clock and grind out a defensive battle.  

The pick: Under 41 points. Because of the altitude, I doubt this will be a track meet that lights up the scoreboard. Not only is Clowney now added to the equation, but Tennessee boasts second-year defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, who is entering 2020 completely healthy. No. 1 corner Malcolm Butler is also back after missing the second half of last year due to a broken wrist. That defense coupled with Henry screams the Under for me. It also should be noted that the Under went 7-2 on Monday Night Football through Week 8 last season.

First Half: Titans -1, O/U 20.5

The pick: Under 20.5. Again, this is going to be a low-scoring game for a number of reasons and I expect the first half in a lot of these games to be a bit choppy as this is the first live action clubs are seeing all year. 

Player props 

Philip Lindsay total rushing yards: Over 37.5. Even with the arrival of Melvin Gordon, Lindsay was named the co-starter in Denver’s backfield, which would suggest that he’ll still have a sizable role in their backfield. I expect Lindsay will have a bigger role to start the season to help Gordon ease into the Broncos offense, which should help him hit this Over.  

Melvin Gordon total rushing yards: Over 40.5. While the carries will likely be more of a split in the opener, I do think Denver will want to see what they have in Gordon and will give him plenty of opportunities to pile up yards. Gordon averaged 51 rushing yards a game for the Chargers last season and should continue to hover around that number in Denver.  

Ryan Tannehill total passing yards: Over 218.5. Tannehill averaged 228.5 yards for Tennessee during his first season as the starter and I expect him to continue his success from a year ago. A.J. Brown should be better in Year 2 and Jonnu Smith is an intriguing receiving tight end. With no Von Miller terrorizing him every time he drops back, Tannehill should have an easy time throwing the ball.  

Ryan Tannehill total passing touchdowns: Over 1.5. Similar to the passing yards Over, Tannehill will be working with a clean pocket and should find the end zone at least twice. 

Derrick Henry total rushing yards: Under 91.5. I do think Tennessee will ride him if they get a substantial lead, but the altitude could slow him down here and the Titans could limit Henry to keep him fresh. 

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