Even though the Tennessee Titans didn’t end up making the playoffs in 2016, they did take some huge strides in the right direction and were playing meaningful football late in December. Furthermore, trading out of the top pick of the 2016 NFL Draft earned Tennessee the Los Angeles Rams’ fifth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, which they used to take Western Michigan wideout Corey Davis. If Davis lives up to his expectations and quarterback Marcus Mariota continues his upward trajectory, this Titans outfit could be one of the scariest in the NFL in 2017.
Why The Titans Will Overachieve In 2017
Davis isn’t quite Odell Beckham Jr., but his ability to catch anything anywhere near him and his game-breaking speed end up being a huge asset for the Titans. Rishard Matthews evolves into one of the best statistical No. 2 wide receivers in the league now that he can play a complementary role, and the end result for Mariota is a career-high 32 touchdowns.
With Davis attracting a lot of attention on the outside, DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry both average over five yards per carry and combine to score 20 total touchdowns. Though neither one ultimately gets there, they both come close to 1,000 rushing yards and make the most formidable tandem of rushers in the league.
The schedule ultimately plays out well early on in the campaign, as the Titans surprise with home wins over the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks in September. Once they get into their bye week in Week 8 with a 5-2 record, they’re home free. Tennessee ends up being favored in 10 of its final 11 games and wins nine of the 11 to claim the AFC South for the first time since 2008.
Why The Titans Will Underachieve In 2017
Injuries from the end of 2016 end up really haunting the team’s offense early in the new campaign. Other teams end up laughing at the Titans after spending a top 5 pick on Davis having never seen him work out due to offseason surgeries. Mariota never turns out to be the same as a runner following his broken leg suffered in Week 16 last year. Without that mobility to use as a lethal weapon, the Oregon product devolves into a marginal passer. He won’t be a complete disaster and won’t be bad enough to be benched, but the end results aren’t good. Mariota not only throws his first career interception in the red zone, but he goes on to throw five of the sort in 2017.
Tennessee’s home-field advantage isn’t as good as that of some of the other teams in the NFL, and the team starts the season at 0-4 in Nashville by losing close games to the Raiders, Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts.
The Titans do rally down the stretch with wins in their final three games over the San Francisco 49ers, Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars, but finishing 6-10 isn’t what the doctor ordered for a team that really thought it would make the playoffs in 2017.
2017 Tennessee Titans Schedule
Week 1: vs. Raiders
Week 2: at Jaguars
Week 3: vs. Seahawks
Week 4: at Texans
Week 5: at Dolphins
Week 6: vs. Colts
Week 7: at Browns
Week 8: Bye
Week 9: vs. Ravens
Week 10: vs. Bengals
Week 11: at Steelers
Week 12: at Colts
Week 13: vs. Texans
Week 14: at Cardinals
Week 15: at 49ers
Week 16: vs. Rams
Week 17: vs. Jaguars
Titans Pick ‘Em Contest Best Bet: Week 16 at Rams
There’s a little bit of karma that could be in the works here. It’s entirely possible this game will mean nothing to either team, and that will make it an overlooked battle. Still, with Mariota now a full year removed from his broken leg and the Rams struggling to find any sense of offensive continuity, this could be a good spot to back the Titans in our NFL Pick ‘Em Contests. It would only be poetic if Davis went off against the team that could have drafted him. LA badly needs an offensive playmaker like Davis to help out quarterback Jared Goff, the man who the Rams traded a treasure trove of draft picks to Tennessee to select in 2016.
Titans Pick ‘Em Contest Top Fade: Week 9 vs. Ravens
The bye week usually serves teams well in the NFL, but the Titans are just 2-5 off of their bye since 2010, including losing 21-7 to this same Baltimore team in 2014 in a nearly identical scheduling spot. No matter how much the Titans have invested in their passing game, they’re still going to be run-first for as long as Mike Mularkey is in charge of the team. Running against the Ravens was really tough last year; opponents averaged just 89.4 yards per contest versus Baltimore, fifth fewest in the NFL.