Tennessee’s decision to sign Ryan Tannehill to provide competition for Marcus Mariota last season turned out to be the best decision in free agency. Tennessee eventually gave the reins to Tannehill after six mostly uninspiring performances and the Titans never looked back, ripping off an incredibly efficient offensive performance on their way to the AFC Championship. The Titans finished 11-8 overall with a 10-8-1 against-the-spread mark, which included stunning upsets off the Patriots and the Ravens in the playoffs before their magic ran out against the Chiefs in the AFC title game. The Titans cashed at +200 odds to make the playoffs and Derrick Henry banked at +1200 odds to win the NFL rushing title with 1540 yards.
The Titans started the season 5-1 toward under totals with Mariota at quarterback before finishing 10-3 toward over totals in their 13 games with Tannehill at the helm. Overall, the Titans scored 24.9 points per game (8th-most) while allowing 20.6 PPG (11th-fewest). The Titans finished with a 4-3 mark in one-score games (playoffs included), but they really showed an ability to stick the knife into an opponent and twist. With Henry closing out leads, the Titans finished with a perfect 4-0 record in games decided by three scores or more.
Even with their deep playoff run, Tennessee saw its 2020 season win total climb by just half a game from last season when they were lined to win eight games. The Titans went over their 2019 win total with a victory over the Texans in the season finale to get to nine wins. Tennessee has -148 odds to make the playoffs for the second straight time in Mike Vrabel’s three seasons. Entering training camp, I have the Titans power rated as the 14th-best team in the NFL (+3000 to win Super Bowl LV), as the sixth-best team in the AFC (+1400 to win the conference), and as the second-best team in the AFC South (+180).
|Week||Opponent (spread if available)||Time|
|1||@Denver Broncos (+1.5)||10:10 (Mon)|
|2||Jacksonville Jaguars (-10.5)||1|
|4||Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)||1|
|10||Indianapolis Colts (-2.5)||8:20 (Thurs)|
|12||@Indianapolis Colts (+3)||1|
|16||@Green Bay Packers||8:20 (Sun)|
Key Off-season Moves
Vic Beasley (DE)
Isaiah Wilson (OT)
Kristian Fulton (CB)
Johnathan Joseph (CB)
Darrynton Evans (RB)
Jack Conklin (OT, Cle)
Jurrell Casey (DT, Den)
Marcus Mariota (QB, LV)
Logan Ryan (CB, FA)
Dion Lewis (RB, NYG)
Tajae Sharpe (WR, Min)
Delanie Walker (TE, FA)
Wesley Woodyard (LB, FA)
Cameron Wake (LB, FA)
2020 Season Odds
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
|Season Win Total (O/U)||8.5 (-130/+107)|
Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total
The Titans have finished 9-7 in each of the last four seasons, including the last two seasons under Mike Vrabel. Tennessee is still lined under nine wins once again this season even after the Titans won two playoff games to reach the AFC Championship. Marcus Mariota, who held back the last three editions of the Titans, is gone and double-digit wins are suddenly within reach this season after Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry and Arthur Smith unlocked the ceiling to this stagnant offense.
Smith and Tannehill will get a full off-season to work together to potentially improve upon their already strong chemistry as play-caller and quarterback. Tannehill finished behind only Lamar Jackson in fantasy points per start (22.5) and fantasy points per dropback (.70) after becoming the starter in Week 7. Henry is also likely to see his most consistent usage over 16 games than he has to start his career after the team released Dion Lewis this off-season. He saw 18+ carries and he averaged 149.1 rushing yards per game over his final nine games of last season (playoffs included).
The Titans could have more success in tight games this season after going 4-3 in one-score games last season (playoffs included). They’re a team built to succeed in tight games since they can deploy their best weapon, Henry, more in close games. The Titans will regress in their red-zone efficiency this season after scoring touchdowns on a league-high 75.6% of their trips inside the 20-yard line last season, but they’ll also regress on their league-worst field-goal rate from last season. Tennessee converted an absolutely pathetic 47.4% of their field goals last season, which was well below the league’s 81.6% conversion rate.
Henry has the chance to potentially feast in plenty of positive game scripts this season as the Titans have the second-easiest schedule based on season win totals (per Sharp Football). The Titans even got a break with their first two road games of the season. They have two of the toughest road trips in the league in the first three weeks of the season, but the home-field advantages in Denver and Minnesota will likely be negated some with full crowds unexpected early in the year. The Titans will be fully prepared for the Broncos in the season opener and they’ll play the Vikings in Week 3 after playing the Jaguars, the team that’s the odds-on favorites to be the worst team in the league.
Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total
The markets don’t believe in what they saw from Ryan Tannehill and the Titans at the end of last season. Tennessee’s win total has remained largely untouched from 2019 and the Colts are the favorites to win the division over the Titans and the Texans. Tannehill averaged a ridiculous 9.6 YPA with an 8.14% TD rate and a 4.4 TD-to-INT ratio in his final 10 starts of the regular season. In his previous 90 career games, Tannehill averaged 7.0 YPA with a 4.2% TD rate and a 1.62 TD-to-INT ratio. OC Arthur Smith may have unlocked Tannehill’s upside with his blend of play-action and vertical passing off of Derrick Henry’s power running. The betting public hasn’t bought completely in as they’re expecting the Titans offense to come back to earth this season.
The Titans will have a small transition on the defensive side of the ball after veteran DC Dean Pees retired after two seasons calling defenses in Tennessee. HC Mike Vrabel decided to take over the play-calling duties for this season while they groom 33-year-old LB coach Shane Bowen to eventually take over the role. Vrabel has never run the team and called plays at the same time, and he’ll join Mike Zimmer, Vic Fangio, and Matt Patricia as head coaches who also call defensive plays.
The Titans did lose a few key players this off-season in order to keep both Tannehill and Henry under contract for the upcoming season. RT Jack Conklin bolted for Cleveland in free agency while CB Logan Ryan remains unsigned and they traded DT Jurrell Casey to Denver. Tennessee did a pretty good job replacing those players by drafting RT Isaiah Wilson and CB Kristian Fulton in the first two rounds and by signing CB Johnathan Joseph and EDGE defender Vic Beasley.
The Titans may have one of the easiest schedules in the league, but they do have some tough spots in the back half of the season. They end the season with five road games in the final seven weeks of the year, which includes a pair of back-to-back road slates in Weeks 11-12 (@Bal, @Ind) and in Weeks 16-17 (@GB, @Hou). The Titans could have a tough time getting their season win total over the finishing line if they don’t get the job done by Weeks 13-15 (Cle, @Jax, Det).
Notable Player Props
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Ryan Tannehill: passing yards (3450.5), passing TDs (22.5), MVP (+8000)
Fantasy Points Projection: passing yards (3905), passing TDs (27)
Best-case scenario: The Titans offense keeps humming because Tannehill remains incredibly efficient after averaging 9.6 YPA while completing 70.3% of his passes with a 7.7% TD rate last season.
Worst-case scenario: Tannehill’s inevitable regression hits harder than expected and he reverts back to his pre-Titans form, and Tennessee leans even more into Derrick Henry and the running game.
Derrick Henry: rushing yards (1325.5), most rushing yards (+700), MVP (+5000), OPOY (+1000)
Fantasy Points Projection: rushing yards (1475)
Best-case scenario: The Titans lean heavily into Derrick Henry like they did late last season when he ran off nine straight games with 18+ carries and he averaged 149.1 rushing yards per game in that span.
Worst-case scenario: Henry’s production tails off with the rest of the offense unable to maintain their incredibly high-level of play from the end of last season, and the Titans are playing from behind more than anticipated.
A.J. Brown: receiving yards (975.5), most receiving yards (+3300)
Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (1030)
Best-case scenario: Brown makes a leap to the upper tier of WRs after seeing a major bump in targets to offset a drop in his efficiency after averaging 2.69 yards per route run.
Worst-case scenario: Ryan Tannehill comes back to earth after his 10-start run at the end of last season, and Brown struggles with the extra attention defenses are giving him in his second season.
Corey Davis: receiving yards (600.5)
Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (670)
- Best-case scenario: Davis raises his stock heading into free agency next season by following DeVante Parker’s lead from last season with the rare fifth-year breakout campaign.
- Worst-case scenario: Davis’ Tennessee tenure comes to an incredibly disappointing conclusion with yet another underwhelming season from the former top-five draft pick.
Best Bets and Leans
The Titans stunned the league by winning nine of their 13 games with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, including two postseason victories during their improbable run to the AFC Championship. I would’ve guessed that the Titans would be getting more love this summer leading up to the season, but their season win total has risen by just half a game, which is still a half win lower than their nine-win campaign from last season. The Titans have actually finished 9-7 for four straight seasons even with Marcus Mariota holding back this offense, and this offense suddenly has a ceiling with Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, and Arthur Smith in charge.
The Titans were consistently disrespected in the betting markets at the end of last season when they were 8-4-1 ATS with Tannehill at quarterback, and I still see a ton of value betting on the Titans this summer. I’m willing to lay a little juice (-130) to bet three units on the Titans over eight and a half wins this season. I’m surprised by just how much love the Colts are getting this season, and I’m surprised by just how big of a gap they’ve opened up as the AFC South favorites. I’m wagering one and a half units on the underdog Titans to win the AFC South at +180 odds. I also see plenty of value betting the Titans in the conference and Super Bowl markets so I’m wagering on Tennessee to win the AFC Championship at +2000 odds and to win the Super Bowl at +4000 odds.
I’m also going a little off the beaten path for an MVP candidate by looking at a non-quarterback to win the award. The Titans have a path to 11 or 12 wins this season if the Texans fall off after the DeAndre Hopkins trade and if the Philip Rivers experiment in Indy doesn’t go as planned. The Titans offense is going to run through Derrick Henry this season as it did at the end of 2019 and this could be the year a running back sneaks into the MVP conversation with league-wide scoring potentially down because of a lack of off-season activity for offenses.
The odds are certainly stacked against Henry to win the MVP because he’s a running back, but at least a quarterback or running back has won the award every year since Lawrence Taylor won the award in 1986. It’s certainly not impossible for a running back to win the award as four RBs have done it since 2000 (Adrian Peterson, Shaun Alexander, LaDainian Tomlinson, Marshall Faulk). Henry was the MVP through the first two rounds of the playoffs last year when they let him dominate in the second half of last season so I’ll put a small wager on the long-shot Henry at +7500 odds to win the MVP.
Best Bets: Titans over eight and a half wins (-130, DraftKings). Risk three units to win 2.31 units…Titans to win the AFC South (+180, DraftKings). Risk one and a half units to win 2.7 units…Titans to win the AFC Championship (+2000, BetMGM). Risk .25 units to win five units…Titans to win the Super Bowl (+4000,BetMGM). Risk .25 units to win 10 units…Derrick Henry to win MVP (+7500, sportsbook.ag). Risk .25 units to win 17.5 units.