SportWhy the Titans should be taken seriously as Super Bowl dark horses
Despite reaching the postseason in three of the last four seasons, the Tennessee Titans continue to be underrated.
The Titans are as long as +2800 to win the Super Bowl as noted by www.sidelines.io. That’s a much longer price than the Seahawks, Browns and Rams, which feels harsh given Tennessee’s 11-5 record last season. The division is open for them once again, particularly with the injuries that have hampered the Colts’ preseason preparation.
Led by a fantasy football superstar and MVP candidate in Derrick Henry, Tennessee’s formula for success is different from the Chiefs, Buccaneers or Bills, but that doesn’t mean they should be written off. It’s time to give Ryan Tannehill the respect he deserves.
On the other side of the ball, the Titans have made notable improvements.
Ranking fifth-worst in yards given up, the Titans had to overhaul their defense this offseason. They did just that. Caleb Farley arrived in the first round of the draft, followed by Monty Rice and Elijah Molden in the third.
Kenny Vaccaro, Malcolm Butler and Adoree' Jackson were cut. Janoris Jenkins was picked up in free agency after a good year with the Saints, and the pass rush was bolstered dramatically.
Defensive end Denico Autry and edge-rusher Bud Dupree should make an immediate difference to a pass rush which ranked second-last in QB pressure rate in 2020. Only the Bengals, Jaguars and Rams hurried quarterbacks less often.
With additions to the secondary and the ability to hassle quarterbacks, it’s reasonable to expect the Titans to be at least average on the defensive end.
If the defense is solid, Tennessee is a problem. Tannehill is sneakily among the league’s best quarterbacks, ranking in the top seven in interception rate and yards per attempt last season. He doesn’t need to be spectacular when they’ve got a human wrecking ball like Henry.
Unsurprisingly, the Titans led the NFL in rushing yards after contact. Henry’s threat on the ground opens up passing opportunities for Tannehill and their underrated receiving corps.
An offense around Henry and Tannehill is going to be top 10. The hope in 2021, though, will be that their defense can win them some games too, which can ease the burden on Henry. If they are to go all the way to next year’s Super Bowl, the Titans need their star man fresh come playoff time.
They might be in one of the weaker divisions, but Titans fans will wince when they see the 2021 schedule. Seven of their first nine games are against playoff or Super Bowl contenders.
A poor start to the season could put a lot of pressure on them down the stretch. The schedule gets kinder but playing catch up will make for a tense winter.
The two matchups with the Colts in weeks three and eight are going to be pivotal. Win both of those, and they should cruise the division.
Watch: Jets DE John Franklin-Myers gets emotional discussing new contract .
The New York Jets agreed to terms with John Franklin-Myers on a massive contract extension this week, and the defensive end shared a great moment with the media on Friday while discussing how much the new deal means to him. © Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC John Franklin-Myers of the Jets knocks the ball from Patriots quarterback Mac Jones. Myers, who signed a four-year, $55 million extension, said his son was the first person he called to deliver the big news. He was overcome with emotion when discussing how his son is his motivation for playing football.