The Tennessee Titans were 2-4 and going nowhere last season. That’s when coach Mike Vrabel benched quarterback Marcus Mariota, the second pick of the 2015 draft, in favor of retread Ryan Tannehill.
That move changed everything. With Tannehill leading the NFL in passer rating and Derrick Henry running over anyone in his path, the Titans won seven of their final 10 regular-season games. In the playoffs, they extinguished the last embers of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick Patriots dynasty and upset the best team in the league, Baltimore. Finally, they were overwhelmed by Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game.
No different than Green Bay, which was a surprise entrant in the NFC Championship Game, but got smoked with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, the expectations are relatively low for a team that accomplished so much. The Titans’ Super Bowl championship odds range from +2,800 at DraftKings to +4,000 at Westgate SuperBook.
Over/Under: 8.5 Wins
Last season, the Titans finished 9-7 and second to Houston in the AFC South. For this season, the Titans are predicted to finish second to Indianapolis.
The Titans became popular during their run last year and are seeing some money to win the AFC and Super Bowl this year,” said Ed Salmons, the vice president of risk management and oddsmaking at SuperBook, to Casino.org.
“I really like Mike Vrabel as a coach. He’s forward-thinking and not afraid of going for it on fourth down. I do think the Colts will win that division and the Titans will be a wild-card team.”
The sportsbooks’ viewpoints are generally the same, with Tennessee running a close second to Indianapolis in the AFC South. The Titans are +160 to win the division at most of the books, but +180 at SuperBook. The consensus over/under win total is 8.5, though PointsBet has it at 9.0 (+120 on the over, -145 on the under).
The menacing, 247-pound Henry led the NFL in rushing and rushing touchdowns last season. Including playoffs, the Titans went 9-0 when he had 90-plus rushing yards. Down the stretch, he simply was unstoppable. In the final six regular-season games and first two playoff games, he had seven games of 100-plus rushing yards, including six of at least 149 yards and four with at least 182.
Naturally, Henry is the favorite to lead the NFL in rushing. He’s +600 at MGM, with a considerable gap over No. 2 on the list, Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott. The over/under on rushing yards is 1,509.5 at FanDuel, but only 1,325.5 at DraftKings.
Because the NFL is so quarterback-driven, Henry is considered a long shot to win MVP honors. In fact, he and Tannehill are +5,000 at FanDuel.
The Titans lost four key players in free agency: Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, standout right tackle Jack Conklin, cornerback Logan Ryan, and backup running back Dion Lewis in free agency. Mostly, they tried to draft their replacements, with offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson in the first round, cornerback Kristian Fulton in the second round, and running back Darrynton Evans in the third round. Plus, they signed veteran corner Johnathan Joseph and pass rusher Vic Beasley.
At SuperBook, Vrabel is +2,500 to win Coach of the Year, well behind co-favorites Mike McCarthy and Bruce Arians, who are +1,000.
Editor’s Note: This is the 22nd of 32 NFL team previews and the second of four on the AFC South.