This week in Tennessee sports news: the Titans look to keep their playoff hopes alive against the Saints, the Preds face increased scrutiny, the Grizzlies shop Iguodala, and Memphis jumps to #11 in the AP Poll. Read on for an in-depth assessment of Tennessee sports and visit your favorite free to play sportsbook, Action 247, for a chance to win real cash prizes. Play for free and take our money.
The Titans put themselves in a hole with their 24-21 home loss to the Texans last Sunday. They’re not out of the playoff picture, but Tennessee is going to have to take care of business and get a bit of help over these next two weeks.
To win the AFC South, they’ll need the following:
- Home win against the Saints in Week 16
- Texans loss against the Bucs in Tampa in Week 16
- Road Win against the Texans in Week 17
The above can certainly happen, but Tennessee’s best shot is earning the second AFC wild card spot. It will come down to the wire between the Titans and Steelers, who are both 8-6. Complex tie breakers may have to decide Tennessee’s fate if the two teams end the year with the same record.
The first order of business is taking care of the Saints this Sunday (12 p.m. kickoff). New Orleans, a 2-point favorite, will be visiting Nashville on a short week after their Monday night contest against the Colts. Their injury report is littered with key defensive lineman such as Sheldon Rankins and Marcus Davenport. The key will be establishing the ground game early against a depleted New Orleans defensive front to open up the play action passing game for Ryan Tannehill and AJ Brown. With Drew Brees and Michael Thomas playing their best football of the year, the Titans will have to take this one in a shootout.
The Predators dropped two of three last week, beating the Sharks at home before falling to the Sabres on the road and the Stars in Nashville. It’s no secret that the Preds have been a major disappointment this season. The fans let them hear their displeasure on Saturday night by booing the team off the ice following an embarassing 4-1 loss to the Stars.
At 14-12-5, the Preds are still in the thick of the playoff mix, but things aren’t going to get any easier this week. Nashville begins a four-game road trip that includes visits to two of the top teams in the league, the Bruins and Islanders. Head Coach Peter Laviolette is beginning to feel the pressure. If this road trip gets ugly, his detractors will be heard loud and clear and his seat will get even hotter. With a winning record and a disgruntled fan base, one thing is apparent–gone are the days when the Preds were everyone’s favorite Cinderella team, they’re now expected to win.
The Grizzlies are coming off an impressive 3-1 week which included road wins against the Warriors and Suns and a home win over the Wizards. Memphis’s young core continues to thrive. 2019 #2 overall pick Ja Morant, averaging 19 points and 6 assists per game, is the clear favorite in the Rookie of the Year race and 2018 #4 overall pick Jaren Jackson Jr. (17 PPG, 5 RPG) is making impressive strides in his sophomore campaign. At 9-17, the Grizzlies know this season is all about the development of their budding stars. The schedule this week is manageable, with three of four contests coming against teams with losing records–the Thunder, Cavaliers, and Kings.
As we approach mid-season, keep an eye on what the Grizzlies do with Andre Iguodala. The former Warrior is currently working out on his own, refusing to join a young, developing team that has no playoff aspirations. Memphis is hopeful they can receive a first-round pick in return for Iguodala, but the market has not been kind to them thus far. Look for teams such as the Lakers and Rockets to get aggressive around the deadline as they make their championship push.
College Basketball in Tennessee
Penny Hardaway’s Memphis squad is sniffing the Top 10 after their scrappy 51-47 road win over #19 Tennessee this past Saturday. The victory makes it seven in a row for the Tigers since star freshman center James Wiseman began serving his 12-game suspension. With a relatively easy schedule until Wiseman returns, it’s entirely possible Memphis could go undefeated in his absence. That’s scary news for the rest of the country. The Tigers will look to keep it rolling this weekend against Jackson State.
Tennessee fell two spots to #21 in the AP poll following their loss to Memphis. The defeat has to fall on the shoulders of veteran leaders Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden. The two combined for just 10 points, shooting 3 for 21 from the field and 1 for 11 from beyond the arc. The Volunteers will need to solidify their go-to option down the stretch of close games before they begin SEC play. Tennessee has a chance to right the ship against a quality Cincinnati opponent on Wednesday.
Vanderbilt took a tough 61-56 loss at the hands of undefeated Liberty on Saturday. The Flames, who upset 5-seeded Mississippi State in the NCAA tournament last year, were the toughest Vanderbilt opponent to date. The Commodores have struggled to find offensive contributions outside Aaron Nesmith and Saben Lee, a problem that will need to be resolved before entering conference play. Jerry Stackhouse’s club has looked solid to open the year, bringing a bit of hope back to a program that is coming off a season in which it went 0-18 in the SEC.
Weekly Tennessee Sports Schedule
Titans vs Saints — Sun 12/22 @ 12 p.m.
Grizzlies vs Heat — Mon 12/16 @ 7 p.m
Vanderbilt vs. Loyola (Chicago) — Wed 12/18 @ 5:30 p.m.
#21 Tennessee at Cincinnati — Wed 12/18 @ 6 p.m.
Grizzlies at Thunder — Wed 12/18 @ 7 p.m.
Grizzlies at Cavaliers — Fri 12/20 @ 6 p.m.
#11 Memphis vs Jackson State — Sat 12/21 @ 12 p.m.
#21 Tennessee vs Jacksonville State — Sat 12/21 @ 12 p.m.
Grizzlies vs Kings — Sat 12/21 @ 5 p.m.
Vanderbilt vs. UNC Wilmington — Sat 12/21 @ 7 p.m.
Predators at Rangers — Mon 12/16 @ 6 p.m.
Predators at Islanders — Tue 12/17 @ 6 p.m.
Predators at Senators — Thu 12/19 @ 6:30 p.m.
Predators at Bruins — Sat 12/21 @ 6 p.m.
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