Picks and a prediction for Nov. 4-5

pickers vodka 847x63NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Whenever I’m asked about a fantasy football lineup choice or a game prediction, I say I don’t want to be on the hook for your loss.

Nevertheless, I do have some thoughts beyond the predictions and proclamations we make on football Fridays on The Midday 180.pickerswebimage

As part of my new relationship with Pickers Vodka, the official spirit of PaulKuharsky.com, I offer these picks:

Tampa Bay +7 at New Orleans

I’m not buying that the 5-2 Saints are this good or that the 2-5 Bucs are this bad. New Orleans isn’t beating Tampa Bay by more than a touchdown, even at their dome. There is Jon Gruden talk in Tampa. Players rally for Dirk Koetter (who I know and like).

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Anatomy of a red-zone play that didn't find Rishard Matthews or Eric Decker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Why can’t the Titans draw up something in the red zone to find Eric Decker?

In seven seasons with the Broncos and Jets, Decker was an outstanding red-zone target. Inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, he caught 57 passes for 418 yards and 27 touchdowns.Decker2OAK

Underutilized in Tennessee through seven games, he has two catches in that area, for 10 yards.

Offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie pointed to a play in Cleveland to illustrate how an intention to get the ball to certain people can fail to pan out.

On a second-and-goal from the Cleveland 11 with 1:55 left in the first half, the Titans put three receivers on the field.

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Eric Decker appreciates Jessie James Decker's support, but wants to ensure no social-media distraction

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Increased Eric Decker involvement, particularly in the red zone, could help boost the Titans offense.

We know his wife, country music artist Jessie James Decker, wants him to get the ball more.JessieJamesDecker

She tweeted a bunch during the Titans close call in Cleveland on Oct. 22.

She wasn’t wrong, though after her complaints, her husband dropped one of two passes thrown his direction.

The Titans haven’t found enough ways to get him the ball, and even if they don’t draw things up for specific people or get stuff taken away, he should have been more of a red-zone factor through seven games, particularly with Corey Davis missing for five of them.

“Of course I appreciate it, she’s obviously my biggest fan,” Decker said in the locker room Thursday. “It’s not the first time it’s happened. She watches the game, she gets passionate about it. We obviously have discussions about it.

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Titans haven't forced defenses to 'survive the script'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An NFL offensive script is rarely called in order.script

Things don’t go exactly according to the plan. But a team’s got, say, three first-and-10 plays it wants to run against certain looks early, and other calls for certain situations that are bound to arise in the game’s first 10 to 15 plays.

“The first 15 plays, offenses generally have some success because they are scripted plays where they have all week to prepare for your defense,” Logan Ryan recently told us on The Midday 180. “They’re going to run their best stuff. So you’ve got to survive what we call the script.”

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The easy plan for altering tough coverage of Delanie Walker: More plays elsewhere

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For starters, the Titans need Delanie Walker in the lineup.

The tight end is recovering from a significant bone bruise suffered near the end of the Oct. 22 win at Cleveland and he did not practice Wednesday.

But it’s a pain tolerance issue and he sounds optimistic about playing, even if he may not look that way.

When he’s back out there, the Titans really have to find a way to get him going. He hasn’t scored a TD and is averaging 4.6 catches and 46 yards and has yet to score a TD.

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Titans' Wednesday menu includes more than many offenses around the NFL

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As the Titans’ offense begins to install the game plan for the Ravens today, it will do something that’s not done my most teams on a Wednesday.

Everything.

While the team certainly won’t run through each play that’s part of the plan, it will venture further than many teams do.Murray2OAK 1

Traditional game-planning weeks feature work out of base personnel for first- and second-down stuff on Wednesdays; a focus third-down on Thursdays; and situational elements like red-zone, short-yardage and goal line on Friday.

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Mobile again, Marcus Mariota now needs to get on a run

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans offense should have adapted better to a mobile quarterback turned immobile.

That said, the Titans endured a loss in Miami without Marcus Mariota after he strained a hamstring and managed wins over Indianapolis and at Cleveland with him limited.

As they return to action on Sunday against Baltimore, they should be back to doing everything they do with him healthy, and they are counting on that opening things us.MariotaRunSEA

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Titans shouldn't count on Corey Davis as a cure-all

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Fresh-legged Corey Davis is set to re-emerge Sunday against Baltimore at Nissan Stadium, and he could have a bearing on things whether he puts up significant numbers or not.

Davis is a downfield threat, and the Ravens will need to be wary of him.IMG 3428

That should mean fewer loaded boxes for the run game, fewer double- and even triple-teams for Delanie Walker and more space in general for other targets in the passing game.

“We’ve all seen that he is an elite threat,” tight end Phillip Supernaw said. “I think he will add something. Our receivers have been doing a great job all year. I think Corey just adds another elite threat that we need to maybe do more stuff with 11 personnel and stuff like that. He just adds another weapon."

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