Monday Night Football Preview

Bills at Titans

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Each week, TheLines will provide a betting breakdown and analysis for the upcoming Monday Night Football game. We’ll look at the odds and see why they’re moving a certain way, along with breaking down the matchup and providing the week’s best prop bets.

The Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans will face off at Nissan Stadium for an AFC showdown on Monday, Oct. 18. The game will mark the 49th meeting in a series that the Titans lead by a 29-19 margin. The most recent game between the teams unfolded in Week 5 of the 2020 season, a 42-16 home win for Tennessee. In that contest, the Titans’ Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry combined for five touchdowns, while the Bills’ Josh Allen threw for 263 yards and two scores but was also picked off twice.

MNF odds and betting breakdown

Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans – 8:15 p.m. ET

The spread for this contest between a pair of winning teams still has a lopsided quality to it, although it didn’t start out that way. Buffalo was initially installed as just a 3.5-point favorite and actually saw a dip to 3 points shortly thereafter. Following Week 5 outcomes, however, which included a very high-profile nationally televised road win for the Bills over the Chiefs – the number began to shoot up. It steadily climbed until getting as high as 6 points before dipping down slightly to 5.5 going into the weekend. It is now Buffalo .

Meanwhile, the total has had a lot more of a roller-coaster trajectory thus far. It opened a robust 53.5 points, a figure the public quickly bet up to 54 early in the week. The number has since toggled between 53 and 54 – with some stops at 53.5 – over the subsequent days. It is currently set at points. The combination of the Bills’ powerful offense, which was on prominent display in the aforementioned shootout win over KC, and the Titans’ questionable defense certainly seems to be the driving force behind keeping this number plump.

Each team’s metrics seem to support both the current spread and total. Buffalo boasts a massive 21-point average net margin of victory, along with a net +/- of 15.0 points ATS. In contrast, the Titans carry 0.4 and -1.8 figures in those respective categories.

Additionally, the Titans are allowing 377.4 total yards and 26.0 points per game, while the Allen-led Bills attack is tops in the NFL with 34.4 points per contest and averages 410.4 total yards per game. Buffalo has also impressively scored TDs on 85.7 percent of its red zone trips on the road, and although the Bills defense figures to make life difficult on Tennessee, the Titans are averaging 26.4 points per game and will have Julio Jones back for this contest.

  • The Bills are 4-1 (80.0 percent) against the spread this season, including 2-0 as a road team and 3-1 in conference games. The Over is 2-3 in Buffalo’s games this season, including 1-1 in its away contests and 1-3 in its conference games.
  • The Titans are 3-2 (60.0 percent) against the spread this season, including 1-1 as a home team and 2-1 (66.7 percent) in AFC matchups. The Over is 3-2 (60.0 percent) in Tennessee’s games this season, including 0-2 in its home games and 2-1 (66.7 percent) in its games against conference opponents.

Live betting angles: Buffalo at Tennessee

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MNF prop search tool

Looking to bet on props for Monday Night Football? Use our prop search tool to find the best odds across legal sportsbooks in the US.

Bills vs. Titans matchup

It may be hard to fathom now but the Bills actually opened the season with a 23-16 loss to the Steelers – at home no less. It was a contest in which Buffalo mustered just 4.7 yards per play. That rather shocking defeat seemed to stir the sleeping giant, as Allen and teammates have gone on to score 35, 43, 40 and 38 points in four subsequent contests with help from the team’s stellar defense.

The Titans have allowed 264.6 passing yards per contest, and although they’ve only yielded 229.0 at home specifically, they were still dismantled by the Cardinals in one of those contests and faced a very limited Carson Wentz in the other home contest to date. Tennessee has also yielded the fifth-highest yards per attempt (7.9) and fourth-highest average yards per completion (12.5), while Allen is averaging just under four completions of over 20 yards or more per contest.

The Bills running game usually takes a back seat to an air attack that features the likes of Allen, Stefon Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders, but Buffalo’s ground attack is more well-rounded that last season. The emergence of Zack Moss as a steadier week-to-week contributor and bruising complement to the quicker Devin Singletary has helped keep defenses off balance. Singletary is averaging a career-high 5.2 yards per carry, and with Allen’s help as one of the league’s most mobile quarterbacks, Buffalo is averaging 140.4 rushing yards per game after putting up just 104.2 per contest a season ago.

On the other side, Tannehill will look to work with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones as a duo for a full game for the first time since Week 2 (UPDATE: Brown was added to the injury report Sunday due to what is believed to be a non-COVID illness), the last game before hamstring injuries began impacting the duo. The Bills secondary is perfectly capable of raining on their parade, however, as Buffalo checks in allowing an AFC-low 173.4 passing yards per game and a lowly 57.7 percent completion rate, the second-lowest figure in the league. The minuscule success rate opponents have when dropping back vs. the Bills isn’t a function of a lot of low-percentage downfield throws, either, as they’re also surrendering an NFL-low 5.0 yards per attempt. Tannehill has unsurprisingly had his struggles without his top receivers in a couple of recent games, but this matchup could prove just as difficult despite the pass-catching corps being back to health.

Henry is the other major x-factor in this matchup, as last season’s NFL rushing champion is once again on a torrid pace. The multi-time Pro Bowler checks into Monday night’s game with four consecutive 100-yard tallies and has already racked up seven touchdowns. Nevertheless, he too could face an uphill battle Monday night. The Bills are conceding just 78.4 rushing yards per contest at 3.7 yards per attempt, and they did hold Henry to 57 yards on 19 rushes in their 2020 meeting – despite giving up the pair of scores to him.

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How to watch Monday Night Football

ESPN holds the rights to Monday Night Football and will cover 17 games from Week 1 through Week 17.

Games can be streamed on the go on ESPN’s website or WatchESPN app with a cable or satellite subscription. Streaming services such as Sling TV also carry ESPN in many of their subscription packages.

MNF betting tips

How to bet MNF like a sharp

Monday Night Football can be the most highly-anticipated game of any given week in the NFL throughout the season. The extra day of preparation, media coverage and overall hype brings more attention to every aspect of the game.

The extra day of rest can allow players to return from injury, but they may also be forcing themselves back to the field before they’re truly healthy due to the added attention on the game. Look at injury reports and have an idea of what kind of a role a star player will be able to handle.

The Monday Night spot can also create discrepancies in how much rest the two teams have had. Taking the most rested team (the one with the longest amount of time since its last game) can often be a good place to find some value at the sportsbooks, especially on the spread.

Never bet a game solely because it’s the final matchup of the week and is the best thing to watch on a Monday Night. Be ready to sit it out completely and wait for next week if there’s no value popping out at books.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does Monday Night Football start?

The 2021 Monday Night Football slate started on Monday, Sept. 13 with the Las Vegas Raiders edging the Baltimore Ravens.

ESPN broadcast two Monday Night Football games in Week 1 for many years but that was not the case in 2021 and it looks as though that tradition is dead moving forward.

Every MNF game from Week 2 through Week 17 of the 2021 season will begin at 8:15 p.m. Eastern.

How to stream Monday Night Football?

The ESPN website and WatchESPN app are the easiest options for those with cable or satellite subscriptions. Many streaming services such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and Hulu include ESPN in most of their plans.

What is the highest-scoring Monday Night Football game ever?

The Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Chiefs in Week 11 of the 2018 season was the highest-scoring MNF game of all time. The 105 combined points topped the 95 points scored by the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins in 1983.

Who are the MNF announcers?

The team of Steve Levy, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese return for the second year.

John Parry remains as the rules analyst, and Lisa Salters returns as the sideline reporter.

Who was the original Monday Night Football broadcast crew?

The original MNF broadcast crew on ABC in 1970 was made up of Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith. Many cycled through the crew before Al Michaels took over as play-by-play commentator from 1986 through 2005. His color analysts included Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf, Boomer Esiason, Dan Fouts, Dennis Miller and John Madden. Mike Tirico assumed play-by-play duties with Tony Kornheiser, Joe Theismann, Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya filling out the crew when ESPN took over the rights in 2006. Jon Gruden replaced Kornheiser in 2009 until he returned to the sidelines as head coach of the Raiders.