It’s a battle of hot and cold teams fighting for postseason placement tonight as the 49ers head to Tennessee for the final Thursday night football match of the year. The 49ers have averaged over 28 points per game in their last four. Meanwhile, the Titans average less than 15. The Titans currently sit one game over the Indianapolis Colts for first place in the AFC South, while the Niners sit two games behind both the LA Rams and the Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West. Both of these teams probably feel like it’s a game to win tonight.
With what I just said, you’re probably thinking 8-6 The 49ers should be able to handle the Titans (9-5) easily. Also, while the Niners are facing some injury issues, between straight linebacker Dre Greenlaw out and his questionable backup Azeez Al-Shaair – as well as starting halfback Elijah Mitchell out for this match – the Titans are arguably in a worse position. . Tennessee will play without two of their OKendall Lamm holders. Both Taylor Lewan and Roger Saffold will be on the sidelines watching backups and Aaron Brewer will be looking to limit Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead. It’s scary if you’re a Titans fan.
Not to mention, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill appeared mediocre at best without Derrick Henry in the backfield. Since Henry injured his foot in Week 8, Tannehill has only scored four touchdowns in the next six games. To put that into perspective, he launched as many wiretaps in week 11 against the Texans. He launched four interceptions against the Texans! Yes, I understand that they are not a bad team when it comes to creating turnovers. They have a net zero turnover margin on the season all in all, but FOUR wiretaps? That’s more than the Texans have had all season.
However, the Titans have something for them to do. The Niners must travel in the central time zone for this game. Historically, the 49ers have not been a good team in this area. Between 1966 and 2015, the 49ers held a record of 68-72-2 in the time zone. This is their worst winning percentage of any time zone during that interval.
West Coast teams in general tend to struggle a lot when flying east. Since 2003, West Coast teams have only one 40.8 payout percentage away against east coast teams. Even though Tennessee isn’t right on the east coast, the point remains. West Coast teams don’t fare well when their clocks are moved a few hours ahead.
While the 49ers are healthier, hotter and have a better comprehensive roster right now, the Titans are a tough team to diagnose. Sure, they lost to Texans and Jets, but they also nearly ruled out the Kansas City Chiefs and dominated the Rams on Sunday night football two weeks later. Yes, the Titans are in the midst of a cool series series, but you know the series thing, right? Eventually they snap. The Titans are struggling to stay on top of their division, so if there was ever a time to show the world that you intend to go to the playoffs, it would be now. Sure, they could wait until Derrick Henry returns (seems less likely by the day) to get back to the beat, but by then it may be too late.