Carson Wentz’s season debut against the Colts seemed to overshadow anything else that happened, including a 20-16 win that put the Eagles (2-1) back in the win column.
Wentz looked sharp, crisp and especially mobile for someone who underwent major knee surgery just about nine months ago.
He was sacked five times and turned the ball over twice but also threw a touchdown pass on the team’s first possession and completed 67 percent of his passes despite missing several injured skill-position players, including running back Jay Ajayi.
The team is hoping the return of receiver Alshon Jeffery provides a similar boost to an offense that’s still navigating through injuries and averaging a shade under 20 points per game.
Jeffery was cleared for contact this week for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery in February to repair a torn labrum and the team hopes to have him against the Titans.
Jeffery’s ability to create downfield separation will help an offense that’s tied for the fourth-fewest receptions of at least 20 yards. Defense has helped the Eagles compensate. They’ve allowed 16 or fewer points in two of their three games and opponents are averaging just 3.4 yards per rush against them.
Marcus Mariota is laboring through a complex elbow nerve injury that forced him out of a Week 2 game against the Texans and would have kept him sidelined last Sunday against Jaguars if not for Blaine Gabbert’s concussion.
Mariota replaced Gabbert and completed 12 of 18 passes for 100 yards in the 9-6 win, but 5.97 his yards-per-attempt average was ridiculously low. His 6 yards per attempt this season ranks 27th among quarterbacks with at least 34 attempts and his 53.9 passer rating is dead last.
The team signed journeyman backup Austin Davis as insurance. Somehow, the Titans (2-1) have managed to win two straight and held their last two opponents to 23 combined points.
The Titans are leaning on their ground game/offensive line and defense to pick up for injuries. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis have combined for more than 330 total yards. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey is among the league’s sack leaders with three.
The Eagles lost a big piece of their Super Bowl defense this week when safety Rodney McLeod reportedly underwent surgery on a torn MCL in his knee. McLeod will be out indefinitely, leaving the Eagles thin at an important spot.
Jeffery’s return is nice, but the Eagles are still without receivers Mike Wallace and Mack Hollins indefinitely, and it’s uncertain how much Jeffery will play.
Meanwhile, running backs Ajayi and Darren Sproles have missed practice this week and it’s doubtful both will be back, although getting one to return would be a huge boost.
The Titans appear to be improving in the health department. The team is reporting that Mariota’s injury isn’t as prohibitive anymore – what else are they gonna say? – and all signs seem to indicate that All-Pro right tackle Jack Conklin will make his season debut against the Eagles after undergoing left knee ACL surgery in January.
There were also positive reports about corner Adoree Jackson, who suffered a concussion last week.
Here are some things for NFL betting fans to consider in this matchup:
The over/under on the Eagles is 22.5. This is risky because the Eagles haven’t scored more than 21 points yet this year and they’re on the road, but the expected return of Jeffery, and Wentz having one game under his belt, makes an enormous difference.
The Eagles have totaled at least 379 yards in each of the past two games and are leading the NFL in time of possession for the third straight year. They’re moving the ball efficiently, just need more production in the red zone, which Wentz should provide.
The Titans are so depleted on offense, it’s hard to see them moving the ball on the Eagles enough to keep the ball out of Wentz’s hands.
The Titans have been leaning heavily on their running game to carry the offense, but the Eagles bring the NFL’s top-ranked rush defense to Nashville. The Eagles were also the league’s No. 1-ranked rushing defense last year.
Figure the Eagles to have longer possessions and be able to put points on the board. Bet the Eagles to go over 22.5 with 888Sport.
The Eagles usually defer when they win the coin flip, preferring to put their defense on the field first. The Titans can’t really hit the Eagles where it hurts – the deep ball against left cornerback Jalen Mills – because of Mariota’s elbow injury.
It’ll be hard for them to even draw a deep-ball pass interference without being able to drive the ball downfield. The Titans have one pass play this season for more than 40 yards. Also, kicker Ryan Succop missed some practice time this week with knee tendinitis.
The Titans are also battling injuries on the offensive line. Meanwhile, the Eagles scored first in eight of the 14 games Wentz has played since the start of 2017, including Sunday’s win against the Colts.