The AFC has become a disaster and is really any team’s conference to win.
Right now, the Tennessee Titans hold the No. 1 seed, but are coming off a home loss to the Houston Texans of all teams. This week, they will be on the road against head coach Mike Vrabel‘s old team from his playing days, the New England Patriots.
The Patriots have been red hot, and are now in first place in the AFC East, pulling ahead of the Buffalo Bills after the Bills loss to the Indianapolis Colts and the Patriots shutout of the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11. If the Patriots win this week and the Baltimore Ravens lose to the Cleveland Browns, they would land as the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Needless to say, this is a “big important game," to quote the kid from Adam Sandler’s movie Big Daddy. Within this game, there are going to be many micro-events, such as a certain number of punts, points scored in the first half and more. We can bet on those thanks to the prop bet options at various sportsbooks.
Let’s look at three you should wager on in this highly-contested AFC matchup.
Please note that all NFL gameday odds and lines are current as of 1:oo p.m. ET on November 24, 2021.
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Titans vs. Patriots Prop Bets: NFL Week 12 Prop Betting Picks
Any Quarter Scoreless (+300) at TwinSpires
Right now, the total on this game is set at 44.5 at TwinSpires, and is right around that throughout the market.
While there have certainly been lower totals this season, 44.5 is not a ton of points. Both offenses are relatively streaky, especially with the Titans being without running back Derrick Henry. We could see Patriots head coach Bill Belichick coach to his patented “take away the No. 1 option" game plan, which could hinder the Titans offense.
The Patriots may throw the ball more often (57%) than run it (43%), but they still average under 70 offensive snaps per game.
We could very well see a scoreless quarter. At +300, I’ll take that bet.
Winning Margin: Patriots by 1-6 Points (+290) at Caesars
We just talked about the possibility of a scoreless quarter. Keeping this in mind, that will definitely limit the upside of a blowout on either side.
While the Titans are without Henry, they still have wide receiver A.J. Brown, who should suit up in this one. Even if Belichick takes him out of the offense, the Titans still have quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has played well this season. Plus, they have enough weapons in the backfield to try to help move the ball.
Defensively, the Titans rank fifth in Pro Football Focus grade, and are a top-two coverage unit.
The Patriots don’t really ask Mac Jones to make a ton of big-time throws to move the ball down the field, as evidenced by his 7.3 yards per attempt and an average depth of target at 7.7.
Expect this game to be a slow burn on offense, likely on both sides, with the Patriots coming out victorious at home due to better coaching and ball control.
It will be a narrow victory, and at +290, the close call will be that much more thrilling.
Total Punts: Over 8.5 (+120) at Caesars
We’ve spoken ad nauseam about a slow-moving offense with limited splash plays. Eventually, these are going to lead to stalled drives. However, the risk you run with this wager are longer times of possession, which could lead to an Under.
At +120, though, we are already taking the “underdog" line. However, it is wholly possible this happens for the myriad reasons and potential game plan schematics we’ve outlined.
Both teams have stellar coverage and overall defensive units. Tannehill may be playing well, but he does have limited options. Jones is a rookie who has played relatively “safe" football this season.
These are all a recipe for a potential Over at 8.5 punts. Getting a plus line provides even more incentive to roll the dice.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Focus (subscription required).