2023 NFL Week 1 Betting Preview: Tennessee Titans at New Orleans Saints

Saints WR Chris Olave

Titans (0-0) at Saints (0-0)

Spread: Saints -3

Total: 41.5

Weather: Dome

The Line Report

The line for this contest opened at Saints -3.5 with some -4s available at some books. That gradually fell to Saints -3, where it has settled for many weeks.

The total for this contest followed a similar pattern, opening between 42 and 42.5 points at most sportsbooks. The total eventually fell to 41.5 and has been settled there for many weeks.

Saints Offense vs. Titans Defense

Last season, Andy Dalton played better than many give him credit for, but Derek Carr raises the ceiling of the New Orleans Saints’ offense. New Orleans has a strong enough offensive line to mitigate the Tennessee Titans’ top-10 pass rush, which is important because the Titans allowed the third-most receiving yards to wide receivers and the most to tight ends last season. That’s wonderful news for everyone involved in the Saints’ passing attack.

Second-year stud Chris Olave was 18th in the league in target share (26.6 percent) and second in air-yards share (43.7 percent). Michael Thomas has played 10 NFL games during the past three seasons; to call him volatile is an understatement, but he’s ready to go on opening day. The last time Thomas played a full season, in 2019, he had 149 receptions on 185 targets for 1,725 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

Carr isn’t Drew Brees, but if Thomas is healthy, he still drew 22 targets over his three active games last season. Olave and Thomas have tremendous upside in this matchup. New Orleans’ third receiver, Rashid Shaheed, has some spike game potential, but he has a much more inconsistent role than Olave or Thomas.

Saints tight end Juwan Johnson, who is a dynamic athlete, also has a great matchup. Johnson’s role, especially when Thomas is active, could be sporadic. But an interesting wrinkle here is that another athletic tight end — Darren Waller — had great success with Carr in Vegas. Johnson is not quite Waller, but he does have enhanced upside in this matchup. 

Alvin Kamara is suspended for three games, and rookie Kendre Miller has been dealing with injuries since he was drafted. Enter Jamaal Williams, who is positioned for bell cow–type usage while Kamara is out. Unfortunately for Williams, the Titans allowed the second-fewest rushing yards to running backs last season. Williams’ role should be fantastic, with Kamara missing, but Williams is in a poor matchup against an excellent run defense. 

Titans Offense vs. Saints Defense

The Saints allowed the ninth-most rushing yards to running backs last season, which is a beautiful thing for Derrick Henry. The Big Dog led the league in rushing attempts last year while finishing second in rushing yards and touchdowns. The Titans’ offense runs through Henry, who draws a solid matchup against the Saints’ aging defense.

New Orleans is a better pass defense than a run-stopping unit, but the Saints’ pass rush is closer to the back of the pack than to the front. That’s a major positive for the Titans’ improved but still shaky offensive line. The addition of DeAndre Hopkins significantly raises the capability of Ryan Tannehill’s passing attack. 

Henry is a unique experience for opposing defenders in the league. The Saints will specifically game plan for him more than they would with most running backs. That could present some opportunities for Tannehill in the passing game. We shouldn’t expect excessive production, but there’s a realistic path to Tannehill exceeding expectations in this contest.

What You’re Betting On

This contest has some borderline shootout potential. Henry is in a plus matchup, and so is the Saints’ passing attack. Strengths are facing vulnerabilities on both sides of this matchup.

For the Saints to win this game, they need to mitigate the Titans’ pass rush so Carr’s passing attack can thrive. In that scenario, New Orleans could approach 30 points. On the other side of the ball, keeping Henry from running wild is the first objective. He is one of the few runners in the league who can genuinely carry an offense. With that in mind, Tannehill has been rock solid in Tennessee and has some weapons in his passing attack. Even if New Orleans exceeds expectations on offense, Tennessee’s offense can hang on the ground and in the air.

For the Titans to win this matchup, they need an efficient game out of Tannehill while Henry simply continues to be himself. That doesn’t necessarily mean Henry needs to have massive production; he just needs to draw extra attention. That will open up opportunities in the passing game for Tannehill, Hopkins and Treylon Burks. Then you need Mike Vrabel to mitigate the Saints’ highly capable passing attack. The Titans’ secondary has been a liability in recent years, but Vrabel is one of the best defensive game planners in the sport.

Score Prediction:

Saints 27, Titans 24

Ryan’s Recent Betting Record

ATS 2021: 49-31

ATS 2022: 48-32

Props 2022: 60-40

Ryan Reynolds is the associate director of fantasy and betting at The 33rd Team. He has watched every snap of every NFL game since 2014 and has been covering NFL betting markets for five years. Follow Ryan @RyanReynoldsNFL on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.  

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