Game time: 1 p.m. ET, September 12, 2021
Venue: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
Where to watch: CBS
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Titans -3; O/U 52.5; Titans -155, Cardinals +135
BetMGM: Titans -3; O/U 51.5; Titans -143, Cardinals +120
Caesars: Titans -3; O/U 52; Titans -160, Cardinals +140
2020 season record
Cardinals: 8-8 (3rd place, NFC West)
Titans: 11-5 (1st place, AFC South)
Ben Burns WON BIG in the preseason, as per usual. His two biggest plays involved the Patriots and the Dolphins. His #1 SIDE was on the Giants when they covered against the Patriots. His #1 total was on the Dolphins/Falcons 'over' the total. Those teams hook up for Week 1 in an important divisional matchup. Catch Ben’s and other plays available right now at the Shop Picks page, where you can find all of the Best Bets from our champion sports handicappers.
Cardinals - Titans preview and analysis
It’s a lot easier to gameplan for Derrick Henry when the Tennessee Titans don’t have their quarterback.
Ryan Tannehill is back, and things just got harder for the Arizona Cardinals’ defense heading into Week 1.
Tannehill, who was placed in COVID protocol on Aug. 26, was activated Saturday and should be available for the Titans when they open the season at Nissan Stadium against Kyler Murray and co.
Think of how good the Titans were last year; going 11-5, winning the AFC South for the first time since 2008; Derrick Henry ran through defenses like he was a hot knife going through room-temperature butter, and Tannehill had a career year of almost 4,000 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Now they’ve added Julio Jones to that offense as a complement to A.J. Brown.
Jones, who was a two-time All-Pro with the Atlanta Falcons during his 10-year career, joins the fourth-best scoring offense in the league last year (30.7 points per game) and could be the last piece needed to vault the Titans to Super Bowl contention. It’s certainly an upgrade of Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith.
Not a bad first test for this new-look Cardinals defense, which now has a familiar face to Tennessee in J.J. Watt. The longtime Houston Texans star pass rusher is now in Arizona with Chandler Jones and Budda Baker.
Arizona’s secondary is in rebuild mode now that Patrick Peterson is with the Minnesota Vikings. Like, it’s very young
The Cardinals’ offense should be able to carry the load against a Titans defense that is a question mark up front. QB Kyler Murray totaled for 37 touchdowns last season (26 passing, 11 rushing) as Arizona just missed out on the playoffs. He’ll have another year to throw to DeAndre Hopkins, who tied for second in the league with 115 catches.
You know who could use him? The Texans.
And you know what the Cardinals could also use? Another dominant receiver in need of a fresh start. So they got A.J. Green in the offseason after a 10-year run with the Cincinnati Bengals. After missing most of 2020 due to injury, that air-raid offense from Kliff Kingsbury is about to reach maximum altitude.
One thing we can say for sure is the over is likely. When in doubt, take the home favorite by a slim margin. For a 1 p.m. kickoff on the east coast, this is going to be one of the games of the day. Titans 35-32.
The Cardinals are 8-11 in their last 19 straight up as an underdog.
The Titans are 57-33 against the spread in their last 90 non-conference games and 60-37 straight up.
Players to watch
Cardinals: With Hopkins and Green in the fold, Christian Kirk could be due for a huge year in the slot. The former burner from Texas A&M caught a career-high six touchdowns last year, but only needed 48 catches for 621 yards. If he gets more targets, this could be a career year for Kirk.
Titans: With Jonnu Smith gone, Anthony Firkser becomes the No. 1 tight end this season. He caught 39 passes for 387 yards and one touchdown. If the defense focuses solely on the outside, Firkser could be called upon for some big catches.
Statistical leaders from 2020
Passing: Kyler Murray -- 3,971 yards, 26 TD, 12 INT
Rushing: Kenyan Drake -- 955 yards, 6 TD; Kyler Murray -- 819 yards, 7 TD
Receiving: DeAndre Hopkins -- 1,407 yards -- 6 TD
Defense: Budda Baker -- 118 tackles; Haason Reddick -- 12.5 sacks
Passing: Ryan Tannehill -- 3,819 yards, 33 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Derrick Henry -- 2,027 yards, 17 TD
Receiving: A.J. Brown -- 1,075 yards, 11 TD
Defense: Kevin Byard -- 111 tackles
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