Denver (+3.0) @ Tennessee
Power rankings: Denver 16, Tennessee 18
Spread update: The line has moved toward the model. Tennessee is now 2.5 point favorites.
Keys to the game: The Broncos need to beat the Titans through the air. Tennessee has the best run defense in the league by DVOA and are allowing just 4.1 yards per carry. It shouldn't be a surprise: DT Teair Tart, DT Denico Autry, LB David Long, and LB Dylan Cole are all strong against the run. For the Broncos rushing attack -- the offensive line is mediocre (mostly due to injuries -- they've had 8 players play at least 100 snaps this season) and are without Javonte Williams (ACL). The Broncos need Russ Wilson to play up to his contract, but hasn't come even close to that thus far -- completing just 58.8% isn't going to cut it. The Titans pass defense isn't terrible by any means (pass defense is 15th in DVOA), but their corners are a weak spot, which should allow Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy to get open. The Titans do have a strong safety tandem between Kevin Byard and Andrew Adams, but are dead last in DVOA against long passes and 3rd in DVOA against short passes.
The Titans are getting their quarterback back, with Ryan Tannehill (ankle) set to return after missing the last two weeks. Most thought Tannehill was going to return last week and he participated in some form everyday at practice this week, meaning he's likely fairly healthy. Even with Tannehill healthy, their passing attack is lackluster at best (they're 25th in passing offense DVOA). Their offensive line is one of the worst in football and Robert Woods is the only capable receiver -- although rookie Treylon Burks will return for the first time since week 4 (foot). Given how good the Broncos secondary has been -- especially with how well 2021 9th overall selection Patrick Surtain II has been playing -- I don't see the Titans having a ton of success throwing on the Broncos defense that ranks 1st in pass defense DVOA. The source of optimism for the Titans is the Broncos traded away DE Bradley Chubb and DE Baron Browning (hip) is out, leaving them with a brutal defensive line. That should allow Derrick Henry to run wild. Ideally, Denver jumps out to an early lead and Tennessee isn't able to rely as much on Henry. At the very least, Denver can stack the box and trust their corners to win one on one matchups.
LA Chargers (+7.0) @ San Francisco
Power rankings: LA Chargers 17, San Francisco 8
Spread update: This line has moved away from the model. It's up to 7.5.
Keys to the game: The Chargers offense sits at just 20th in offensive DVOA, a disappointment that has been the result of several key injuries. The offensive line has been one of the worst run blocking units in the league, which has directly led to a rushing DVOA that ranks 29th in the league despite having Austin Ekeler at running back. The 49ers defense ranks 4th in rush defense DVOA, making it unlikely that the Chargers will have much success on the ground. The passing game is much more evenly matched, with the Chargers ranking 16th in pass offense DVOA against the 49ers who rank 13th. There's a few areas of concern in this match up, however. The Chargers line has been far better as pass protectors, but RT Trey Pipkins (who also happens to be questionable with a knee injury) represents a major weakness, and the 49ers have Nick Bosa who lines up on both sides of the field. It is worth pointing out that rookie 6th rounder LT Jamaree Salyer is doing an excellent job filling in for Rashawn Slater (biceps) and the 49ers are without DT Arik Armstead (foot/ankle). Even still, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Bosa lives in the Chargers backfield. The 49ers have had injuries to corners, including Emmanuel Moseley (ACL) and Jason Verrett (Achilles), leaving them with one very good corner (Charvarius Ward) and major weaknesses behind him. Even still, given that the 49ers have an above-average safety tandem (Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson Sr.) and that the Chargers are without both Keenan Allen (hamstring) and Mike Williams (ankle), I don't see the Chargers receivers as being able to take advantage of the situation. The way to attack the 49ers defense has been via deep passes -- they rank 4th in DVOA against short passes and 31st against deep passes. Justin Herbert is certainly capable of throwing it deep, but he's been a low-aDOT passer the last couple seasons. The Chargers will need to take advantage of passes down the field to have a shot.
The 49ers offense has dealt with a number of injuries this season, but are finally fully healthy. They have an above-average offensive line and plenty of weapons (Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Ayiuk, and George Kittle). Jimmy Garoppolo is playing at his usual middle of the road level, but the weapons around him are good enough to rank 7th in pass offense DVOA. The Chargers defensive line lost DT Austin Johnson (knee) last week, who would have come in handy as an interior pass rusher. The 49ers offensive line is far stronger at the tackle positions than the interior, and with Joey Bosa (groin) still on IR, Khalil Mack is the one capable player in the front 7. Mack is naturally a premier edge rusher, but ideally you'd like more than one player to attack this offensive line. The Chargers secondary is extremely good, and a big reason why they rank 10th in pass defense DVOA. However, they rank 29th in rush defense DVOA, which could be a major issue defending against McCaffrey -- especially considering how efficient 49ers rushing attacks have been under Kyle Shanahan.