Well, who would have seen this coming several weeks ago? At one point, the Tennessee Titans appeared certain to win the AFC South title, even without Derrick Henry. At the same time, the San Francisco 49ers, a preseason Super Bowl hopeful, faced an uphill climb to just make the NFL playoffs.
Now, they enter their Week 16 matchup at opposite ends of the form table.
The 49ers travel to Nashville with five wins in six games and are closing in on a wild-card spot. With a win in the Music City, the Niners will all but ensure that they will be a part of the playoff field.
The Titans still control their destiny in the AFC South but stand on shaky ground with three losses in four games and the Indianapolis Colts charging hard. There’s a Henry-sized light waiting for them at the end of the tunnel, but they have to make it there first.
Will Ryan Tannehill and the Titans score a big win to calm nerves in Nashville? Or will the Niners keep their second-half surge going with another road win?
San Francisco 49ers vs Tennessee Titans Matchup Info and Betting Odds
- Game Matchup: San Francisco 49ers (8-6) vs Tennessee Titans (9-5)
- Venue & Location: Nissan Stadium (Nashville, Tennessee)
- Date: Thursday, December 23, 2021
- Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
- TV: NFL Network
- Spread: San Francisco 49ers -3 (-120), Tennessee Titans +3 (+100)
- Moneyline: San Francisco 49ers -165, Tennessee Titans +140
- Total: OVER 43.5 (-115), UNDER 43.5 (-105)
Odds are from BetMGM.
San Francisco 49ers vs Tennessee Titans Betting Outlook
When Derrick Henry went down with a foot injury in Week 8, the immediate fear was that the Titans would not be able to cope without their most important player. But Tennessee responded by winning their first two games following the devastating news, including a road win over the Los Angeles Rams.
But you will only go so far when you have to rely on your defense to bail you out every week. They managed a Week 14 win over the absolute mess that was and still is the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the other three games have been shockingly bad. Worse than that, even.
Ryan Tannehill’s success as a starting quarterback has been through being more solid than spectacular, more efficient than excellent. But he is in the midst of an awful stretch. Over his last four games, Tannehill has only two touchdown passes and six interceptions and is averaging only 5.6 yards per pass attempt.
It doesn’t help that in addition to Henry’s absence, injuries have hit the receiving corps. But this all can’t all be blamed on either of those things. The ground game has actually had a couple of productive games, with D’Onta Foreman twice hitting the century mark.
The big issue is turnovers, which have killed numerous promising drives and will doom them against San Francisco.
In their three losses to the Texans, Patriots, and Steelers, the Titans have turned the ball over 13 times in total. Eight of those 13 turnovers have occurred on the other side of the 50. And all five turnovers on their side of the 50 have been turned into points.
On Sunday against the Steelers, the Titans had a 13-3 lead at halftime, sparking hope that they were on track for a big road win. Then the bottom fell out.
Second-Half Drives for the Tennessee Titans vs the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 15
- Punt (followed by a defensive stop)
- Punt (followed by a Steelers touchdown)
- Fumble at own 45 (converted into a field goal)
- Interception when at Pittsburgh’s 42 (converted into a field goal)
- Fumble at own 46 (converted into a field goal)
- Turnover on downs in the red zone (end of game)
If there is some positive news for Tannehill and the offense, it’s that receiver A.J. Brown should be back against the 49ers after missing the last three games. So, Tannehill should have his top target to throw to, but that doesn’t solve the Titans’ issues with being way too generous at the moment.
That generosity does not bode well for this matchup. Prior to forcing only one turnover in Sunday’s win over the Atlanta Falcons, the 49ers had forced multiple turnovers in each of the previous five games.
The Niners have done a great job of doing something with the turnovers they have been forcing as well. Of their 12 takeaways over their last six games, ten have been converted into points (six touchdowns, four field goals).
When the most points Tennessee has scored in their last four games (20) is less than San Francisco’s worst recent output (23), the Titans can ill-afford even one turnover, much less multiple turnovers.
San Francisco 49ers vs Tennessee Titans Prediction
San Francisco 49ers 24, Tennessee Titans 19 (San Francisco 49ers -3)
Defense should keep the Titans in this one most of the way, but a key turnover or two will do them in once again. As mentioned, the 49ers have done a great job of converting takeaways into points. That will be decisive in a securing their sixth win in seven games.
As if things weren’t troublesome enough for the Titans on offense, starting left tackle Taylor Lewan (back) and starting left guard Rodger Saffold (COVID list) are both out for this game. That spells serious trouble for Tannehill, who has fumbled five times over his last four games.
As it is, Tannehill has been sacked more times (41) than any QB other than Joe Burrow (44). Against the Jaguars and Steelers, he was sacked four times in each game. The 49ers have recorded 12 sacks in their last three games. Look for their pressure on Tannehill to pay off and turn the game in their favor.