Titans have tall chimney to climb

(AP) — A mulligan is a golf term, of course. Pro Picks would like to apply it to the NFL.

We’d like the opportunity for a do-over on any of the choices this week — made before any games have been played — that get messed up because of more pandemic-related issues. Some of our selections in Week 15 fell into that category, with rosters severely depleted by COVID-19 after the picks were in.

We have a deal?

Anyway, while the 49ers are surging, the Titans are stumbling.

With three weeks remaining in the regular season, the final Thursday night game — barring more COVID-19 rescheduling — has all sorts of playoff implications. The key in Nashville could be Tennessee’s defense against the Niners’ rushing game. Tennessee has allowed a total of 43 yards rushing combined over the past two games. San Francisco ranks fourth in the NFL averaging 142.3 yards per game and has a special playmaker in receiver Deebo Samuel.

Samuel has rushed, yes rushed, for seven touchdowns, at least one in five straight games while being used out of the backfield at times, on jet sweeps and in other manners. He’s the first receiver in the Super Bowl era to do that and the third 49ers player since the 1970 merger to have a TD run in at least five straight games.

The 49ers (8-6) have won five of six games and are 5-2 on the road. They could solidify their standing as a wild-card team with a victory.

Tennessee is 9-5 and remains in first place in the AFC South. But the Titans have struggled recently.

No. 12 San Francisco is a 3 1/2-point favorite at No. 9 Tennessee.

49ERS, 23-17

KNOCKOUT POOL: The Dolphins came through against the Jets, who we actually considered picking this week. Then we woke up and chose PHILADELPHIA.

No. 11 Los Angeles Chargers (minus 9 1/2) at No. 31 Houston

The Chargers are in the midst of a playoff push that likely will succeed.


No. 8 Indianapolis (plus 1 1/2) at No. 7 Arizona, Saturday

Indy is playing well and has balance. The Cardinals haven’t displayed much lately.


No. 19 Cleveland (plus 7) at No. 1 Green Bay, Saturday

We also considered this for Best Bet but weather in December at Lambeau Field is tricky.

PACKERS, 27-16

No. 10 Buffalo (plus 2 1/2) at No. 6 New England

The Bills could creep back into the AFC East race and bring Miami with them. But …


No. 17 Miami (plus 3 1/2) at No. 18 New Orleans, Monday night

Whoever wins this one will be in nice shape for a wild-card challenge.


No. 22 Denver (plus 1 1/2) at No. 21 Las Vegas

Whoever wins this one will be in nice shape for a wild-card challenge.

RAIDERS, 23-20

No. 14 Baltimore (plus 2 1/2) at No. 13 Cincinnati

Pro Picks can’t believe it has come to this in the AFC North.

BENGALS, 21-20

No. 15 Pittsburgh (plus 7 1/2) at No. 2 Kansas City

Of course, the Steelers could have a say in the AFC North. Or maybe not.

CHIEFS, 27-16

No. 4 Los Angeles Rams (minus 3) at No. 16 Minnesota

The Vikings probably need to win this to remain viable for a wild-card berth. Nope.

RAMS, 31-26

No. 3 Tampa Bay (minus 11) at No. 26 Carolina

Considering how undermanned the Bucs are heading into this, betting line might be too high.


No. 20 New York Giants (plus 10) at No. 28 Philadelphia

Considering how undermanned the Giants are heading into this, betting line might be too low.

EAGLES, 30-13

No. 23 Washington (plus 10 1/2) at No. 5 Dallas

This line seems about right, particularly if Washington can get back some pieces.

COWBOYS, 20-10

No. 27 Chicago (plus 6) at No. 25 Seattle

Rookie Justin Fields would like to someday be compared to vintage Russell Wilson.


No. 29 Detroit (plus 6) at No. 24 Atlanta

The Lions already have blown the first overall draft spot.

FALCONS, 22-17

No. 32 Jacksonville (plus 1) at No. 30 New York Jets

Even with their lack of talent and COVID-19 concerns, the Jets are better.

J-E-T-S, 21-15



Last Week: Straight up: 11-5. Against spread: 8-8.

Season: Straight up: 145-78-1. Against spread: 125-96-2.

Best Bet: Straight up: 9-5-1. Against spread: 10-5.

Upset Special: Straight up: 12-2. Against spread: 12-2.


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