Madden MAYhem is back! Hopefully you tuned in last week as the action was intense.
Hopefully you also read my previews for the games last Thursday and Saturday as I’m 4-0 ATS and 2-2 on O/Us. Not a bad opening weekend and I hope to carry that momentum into this week’s games which start on Thursday with the AFC South teams squaring off against each other. Get your bets in exclusively at MyBookie !
Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans
Line: Titans -2.5
Thursday 5pm PST
The new look Indianapolis Colts will have Phillip Rivers starting at Quarterback when they take the field against the Titans. After 16 seasons on the Chargers, Rivers was contemplating retirement before the Colts made him an offer. I believe he still has some gas in the tank and will be an upgrade over Jacoby Brissett. He’ll also now have the luxury of playing behind an offensive line ranked 3rd best in the league last year compared to the Chargers line that ranked 4th to last.
The Colts has some weapons as well. RB’s Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines return as does star wide receiver TY Hilton and dependable tight end Jack Doyle. Additionally, Indy went skill position players with both of their second-round draft picks, adding (RB) Jonathan Taylor and (WR) Michael Pittman. Although they lost (TE) Eric Ebron to free agency, the signing of Trey Burton hopefully softens the blow. This should be a top 10 offense is the league.
On the other side of the ball, the Colts brought in (DL) DeForest Buckner and (DB) Xavier Rhodes to bolster a middle-of-the-road defense from a year ago. With a healthy (LB) Darius Leonard in 2020, we should see this unit improve and offer a nice compliment to an offense that has high expectations.
The Titans had a heckuva year in 2019. Coming out of obscurity, they advanced all the way to the AFC Championship and had the Chiefs on the ropes for a good portion of the game. Tennessee’s season turned around after Ryan Tannehill got the nod at QB but the real star of this team is the offensive line and bruising (RB) Derrick Henry. If Tannehill can improve from being a “game-manager” to a legitimate threat to beat teams through the air, the Titans will be extremely hard to stop.
Gone from last year’s defense is (DL) Jurrell Casey, (LB’s) Wesley Woodyard, Cameron Wake and (DB) Logan Ryan. I expect the unit to take a step back and I believe the Colts have an opportunity to put up some points in this game.
These two teams split in 2019 so we should have a tight game on our hands. While the Colts have improved their roster from a year ago, I think Tennessee is still a slightly better team. Expect Derrick Henry to have a big game and go over 100 yards on the ground with a couple TD’s. Tannehill has a solid game as well and takes advantage of a budding connection with him and AJ Brown on the outside. Give me the Titans and give me the Over.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans
Line: Texans -7
Thursday 7pm PST
The night cap of AFC South Thursday sees the rebuilding Jacksonville Jaguars visit DeShaun Watson and the Houston Texans. As perplexing as it was to trade away DeAndre Hopkins, Watson is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and still has weapons around him. Those weapons now include (RB) David Johnson and while it seems like he’s been in the league forever, he’s only entering his 6th season. If he can revert back to the player he was in 2016, maybe the Hopkins trade wasn’t so crazy.
New to the wide receiver corps, and joining Will Fuller, is Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb. Cooks is solid but Cobb is way past his prime. Fuller is a dangerous threat, but consistency and injury issues have riddled his career. It will be interesting to see just how much Hopkins opened up the offense and just how much Watson and the Texans will miss him.
As usual JJ Watt leads the D but Houston lost quite a few of his teammates in free agency. In the secondary alone, Johnathan Joseph, Jahleel Addae, and Tashaun Gipson all departed while (DL) DJ Reader and (LB) Barkavious Mingo also left for greener pastures. It should be expected that a defense ranked 26th in DVOA last year might actually be worse this year.
Although Houston’ defense was in the bottom quarter of the league, Jacksonville’s was actually worse, finishing 29th. Plus, they lost Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, and AJ Bouye via free agency. The Jags still have Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue returning but the supporting cast just isn’t there. I’d expect DeShaun Watson to light them up Thursday night.
On offense, while Minshew Mania was fun to follow, he’ll need to make a giant leap in productivity if Jacksonville is going to score enough points to win shootouts. The wide receiver core with DJ Chark, Dede Westbrook, and others should put up some big #’s this year with the team plays from behind often. Lastly, it will be interesting to see what the front office does with Leonard Fournette as trade rumors have been swirling. Overall, it appears the Jaguars are in rebuild mode and I’d expect an early exit from Madden MAYhem.
I’m all over the Texans here. The Jag defense will have no answer for DeShaun Watson and gang. I’d expect a double digit win that could get ugly. Jacksonville will be able to score some points but not enough for a cover. Give me the Texans and give me the Over.