With about four weeks left until training camp starts, the Titans and their fans are hoping to build off their first winning season since 2011. Let’s take a look at the best and worst-case scenarios for this season. Here are three reasons why the Titans will and won’t make the playoffs:
Why the Tennessee Titans Will Make the Playoffs:
1. Marcus Mariota and the passing game.
Mariota is now a member of the NRA with all of the weapons he has. (Sorry, that was supposed to be funny.) But, seriously, after not having a number one receiver for his first two seasons in the league, Jon Robinson decided to change that. After drafting Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor and Jonnu Smith, Robinson went on to sign Eric Decker to a one-year deal. That’s four targets in one offseason. Along with two-time Pro Bowler Delanie Walker and 2nd-year WR Tajae Sharpe, the Titans still have their leading receiver from a year ago in Rishard Matthews. The Titans had the 25th ranked passing last year, but the 11th best offense. You would think with the wideouts on the roster now, this team has the ability to be Top 10.
The offense will still be run-first, but Mariota has all he needs to improve on the impressive career he’s making for himself and has a chance to have a breakout, MVP type season.
2. Second easiest strength of schedule.
Now, the Titans have been known to win the games they shouldn’t and lose the games they should’ve won. Typical. That could change this season. Having the second easiest schedule in the league along with the Jaguars and only second to the Colts (Yeah, it’s ironic they are both division opponents, right?). This could very well benefit the team this season. It’s obvious that you have beat the teams inside the division in order to win the division. Period. They will have to find ways to finally beat Andrew Luck and the Colts, steal a game in Houston, and sweep the Jaguars. If they can do that, then the Titans should have no problem in winning the AFC South for the first time since 2008.
3. Not getting bit by the injury bug.
The Titans were healthy all year long a season ago until the face of the franchise went down in Week 16 as the playoffs were on the line. That can’t happen again. Mariota has to prove to everyone that he can finish a season as he has had two season-ending injuries in as many years. The offense was healthy all year and the majority of the defense played all 16 games. If the 3rd best roster in the NFL, according to PFF, can stay healthy all season long, you can go ahead and buy your playoff tickets.
Why the Tennessee Titans Will Miss the Playoffs Again:
1. The rookies disappoint.
The expectations for Tennessee’s first two picks are high. Both Corey Davis and Adoree’ Jackson will be day one starters. Davis to catch the ball and score and Jackson to be a solid lockdown cornerback and return kicks. That’s asking a lot from two players who are just now about to enter their first professional training camp, but when you have a team who finally filled their missing holes, starting is the only option. Taywan Taylor and Jonnu Smith will also be used in the game plan as they both have the ability to score from anywhere on the field. Can these guys deliver on the expectations?
If either Davis, Taylor, or Smith all can’t have big rookie seasons, then don’t get your hopes us for the Titans to be playing in January.
2. The secondary. ‘Nuff said.
The Titans ranked 30th in the NFL in passing defense a year ago. Giving up 269 YDS/G. (I could’ve completed a pass on the Titans secondary last season.) Jon Robinson cut Parrish Cox halfway through the season and parted ways with Jason McCourty this offseason. The Titans needed help in the secondary in the worst way so they went out and signed Logan Ryan and drafted the versatile Adoree’ Jackson. LeShaun Sims, Demontre Hurst, and Brice McCain are ideally not who you want in your secondary, but you have to trust Robinson’s judgement. If you want to win in this pass happy league, you have to defend the pass and the Titans have not been able to stop quarterbacks. These are the quarterbacks the Titans will face this season:
Andrew Luck x2, Blake Bortles x2, Tom Savage or Deshaun Watson x2, Derek Carr, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, whoever the Browns quarterback is, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, whoever the 49ers quarterback is and Jared Goff.
If the Titans are going to want to make the playoffs, they will have to have a big year from the secondary.
3. Can you beat big brother?
You know when you were younger and your older brother never let you win? That’s kind of like the Titans recently with the AFC South. Since Andrew Luck has been a Colt, he’s never lost to the Titans. A perfect 9-0. The Jaguars have found ways to beat the Titans in Jacksonville the last three seasons and it’s been impossible to win in Houston. If the Titans want to finally win the AFC South, you have to win the games that matter. Marcus Mariota and company have to take over this division. So, can the Titans beat the big bro’s?