Back in 2017, the Tennessee Titans record of 9-7 was good enough for a playoff berth. They proceeded to stun the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round before falling to the New England Patriots in the divisional playoffs. It was undoubtedly a successful season, but the club still parted ways with head coach Mike Mularkey.
Mike Vrabel was hired as his replacement, and there were naturally big expectations on his shoulders. After all, this was a club that had made it to the divisional playoffs before he came on board. Vrabel was viewed as the person who could help the team get over the hump.
Going by that metric, the 2018 campaign was a failure. The team went 9-7 again, but that wasn’t good enough for a playoff spot this time around. While no playoffs was certainly a disappointment, the team did show a lot under Vrabel’s leadership.
Tennessee was a gritty team that showed a lot of character, but they simply didn’t have enough firepower on offense to make any serious noise. For the season to come, oddsmakers aren’t too optimistic that there will be an improvement for the Titans.
Current odds have the team bringing up the rear in the AFC South, well behind the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars. Granted, a case can be made for all three of those squads to take the division down.
But is it really a fair expectation for this year’s Titans team to come in the last place? Let’s dig into the details and find out, starting with a look back at the 2018 season that was in Tennessee.
Tennessee Titans 2018 Season Recap
Record: 9-7 | Standings: 3-AFC South | Playoffs: N/A
The tenure of Vrabel didn’t start off with a bang. The Titans were on the road to face the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, falling by a score of 27-20. The club would bounce back to win its next three in a row, all of which were decided by field goal margins.
The good times came to a close the following week with a one-point loss at the Buffalo Bills. Tennessee would lose its next two after that to enter the Week 8 bye with a mark of 3-4. The time off did some good.
Right out of the bye, the Titans would pick up double-digit victories over both the Cowboys and Patriots. Two straight losses would follow, but the club heated up once again down the stretch. Tennessee won its next four in a row to set up a road showdown with the Indianapolis Colts in Week 17.
The Colts controlled the game from the outset and walked away with a 33-17 win. Indianapolis headed to the playoffs, while the Titans would begin the offseason. Tennessee finished up 2018 ranked 27th in the league in points for per game, and 3rd for fewest points allowed per contest.
Tennessee Titans Offseason Moves
The Titans lost offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, as he accepted the head coaching gig with the Green Bay Packers. Tight ends coach Arthur Smith was bumped up to fill the void. Vrabel remains the man in charge, while Dean Pees returns as defensive coordinator.
In free agency, the team was quite active. QB Ryan Tannehill was signed via a trade with the Miami Dolphins. Other additions include DE Cameron Wake, WR Adam Humphries, and OG Roger Saffold. On the way out of Tennessee were players including DT Darius Kilgo and OG Quinton Spain.
Tennessee used its first-round pick on Mississippi State DT Jeffrey Simmons. He’s working back from an ACL injury, but the timetable isn’t clear cut. Round two would bring Ole Miss wideout A.J. Brown, while UNC-Charlotte OL Nate Davis joined the team in the third round.
Later round selections include Iowa S Amani Hooker and LB D’Andre Walker out of Georgia. The Titans defense was solid, and the club took a number of steps to improve it in the offseason. That’s bad news for opponents on the 2019 schedule.
Marcus Mariota will be behind center once again, but the clock is ticking on his answering the franchise quarterback question. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis lead the way out of the backfield. Humphries, Brown, and Corey Davis are penciled in as the top wideouts, while Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith will both see targets at tight end.
Tennessee Titans 2019 Schedule
|1||Sun. Sept.8||at Cleveland Browns||1:00 PM||CBS|
|2||Sun. Sept.15||vs. Indianapolis Colts||1:00 PM||CBS|
|3||Thu. Sept.19||at Jacksonville Jaguars||8:20 PM||NFL|
|4||Sun. Sept.29||at Atlanta Falcons||1:00 PM||CBS|
|5||Sun. Oct.6||vs. Buffalo Bills||1:00 PM||CBS|
|6||Sun. Oct.13||at Denver Broncos||4:25 PM||CBS|
|7||Sun. Oct.20||vs. Los Angeles Chargers||1:00 PM||CBS|
|8||Sun. Oct.27||vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1:00 PM||FOX|
|9||Sun. Nov.3||at Carolina Panthers||1:00 PM||CBS|
|10||Sun. Nov.10||vs. Kansas City Chiefs||1:00 PM||CBS|
|12||Sun. Nov.24||vs. Jacksonville Jaguars||4:05 PM||CBS|
|13||Sun. Dec.1||at Indianapolis Colts||1:00 PM||CBS|
|14||Sun. Dec.8||at Oakland Raiders||4:25 PM||CBS|
|15||Sun. Dec.15||vs. Houston Texans||1:00 PM||CBS|
|16||Sun. Dec.22||vs. New Orleans Saints||1:00 PM||FOX|
|17||Sun. Dec.29||at Houston Texans||1:00 PM||CBS|
It’s a tough opener for the Titans, as the Browns are expected to be much improved this year. That’s followed by a pair of games versus divisional foes, so we’ll get a good sense of the pecking order in the AFC South before the month comes to a close.
The team has a late bye in Week 11 this year, and the path to get there is a tough one. Highlights after the first week of the season include home dates with the Chargers and Chiefs. It’ll be put up or shut up time out of the break, as Tennessee will have four divisional games over the final six weeks of the season.
For the final three games, the Titans have a pair with the Texans wrapped around a home game with the Saints. Add it all up, and it’s a tough schedule for Tennessee to navigate, but they do have the benefit of facing several of their tougher opponents at home.
Tennessee Titans 2019 Outlook
The AFC South is going to be challenging this year. Improvement is expected out of both the Colts and Jaguars, while the Texans aren’t about to roll over as defending division champs. We can expect a number of gritty and hard-fought contests over this six-game stretch. A split is doable, while four wins isn’t unreasonable.
For the rest of the AFC schedule, the Titans will be on the road to face the Browns, Broncos, and Raiders. They’ll be home for games with the Bills, Chargers, and Chiefs. It’s another challenging stretch, but a record of 3-3 is within reason.
The interconference portion of the schedule brings dates with the NFC South. The Titans will be on the road for games with the Falcons and Panthers. They’ll be home for tilts with the Buccaneers and Saints. Another split is certainly within the capabilities of the Titans, while a record of 3-1 for these four games wouldn’t be stunning.
Tennessee Titans 2019 Win Total Odds and Pick
Here is the lay of the land for the Titans in 2019 according to the NFL betting sites. It’s a step backwards from the club’s nine-win season in 2018. As we mentioned up above, current odds also only have the team pegged as the fourth-best team in the division.
Total Regular Season Wins:
Betting odds provided by: MyBookie.ag
Once again, oddsmakers have done a solid job setting the benchmark. Tennessee is a team which could easily go anywhere from 7-9 to 9-7. As you would expect, the divisional portion of the schedule will go a long way towards determining how the season shakes out.
Despite the disparity in odds to win the AFC South, the four clubs aren’t too far apart. The Titans and Jaguars are solid defensive teams which need to show life on offense, while the Colts and Texans have better overall balance.
A team that can take the Patriots to the woodshed – as the Titans did last year – is obviously a dangerous squad. We’ll look for Tennessee to win some games that it probably shouldn’t, but they may also drop some which they should win.
Another 9-7 record may be the final result, which places us on the Over for the Titans.