Before we get to this article, I just want to say one thing about the Titans finishing the preseason at 0-4: The 2008 Detroit Lions and 2017 Cleveland Browns were both 4-0 in the preseason. Both teams finished 0-16. It doesn’t matter.
With that out of the way, there’s big expectations amongst fans for this team with a new coaching staff and new, talented faces on both sides of the ball (mostly defense). A couple of key matchups, including games at home against both the Eagles and Patriots, stand out. The schedule itself is a little intimidating, but I think the Titans can do just fine as long as Matt LaFleur gives Marcus Mariota a more comfortable environment to work with.
With that in mind, how many games do you think the Titans will win this season?
I think the least they can win is 9, with the most being 11. LaFleur’s presence should greatly help the guard situation in Tennessee, and his zone blocking scheme should do wonders to highlight the athleticism of the unit. Mariota is a top 10 quarterback in my mind, and his ability to quickly progress through his cycles and throw accurately into tight windows and under pressure stands out.
Tennessee’s wide receivers may be unexperienced, but I trust LaFleur to get the most out of them. Delanie Walker is still a high quality tight end, and Jonnu Smith looks like he can be good too. The combination of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis in the backfield could be one of the best in football as well.
Jurrell Casey is the focal point of the Titans offense, and when you add Harold Landry and Rashaan Evans, you suddenly have an insane amount of linebacker depth. Adoree Jackson looks like he can be good, Malcolm Butler is an upgrade over past Titans corners, and Kevin Byard is coming off a terrific 2017 campaign.
If Mike Mularkey were still coaching this team, I don’t think they be close to a shot at competing, and I think they would regress. With LaFleur as offensive coordinator, that changes things greatly. I wasn’t high on the Mike Vrabel hire, but all he has to do is make the defense play at least to a complimentary level. As long as Mariota is given more room to work with, that will greatly improve this team’s chances of winning and allow them to return to the playoffs.
The matchups against all three division rivals (Jaguars with that defense, Colts with Andrew Luck returning, and Texans with Deshaun Watson returning) will all be a little more interesting this time around, but I think the Titans can at least take care of the matchups at home.
The matchup against Miami in week 1 could be tougher than expected considering the upgrade in talent at receiver and the secondary, as well as Ryan Tannehill making his return. I have faith that this team can win at Buffalo considering how bad that team looks on paper, and the game against the Jets should be a win too (though if Sam Darnold starts, that should be a fun game). One game to look out for is the London matchup against the Chargers, expected to win the AFC West this year.
Overall, I don’t see Tennessee winning anymore than 11 games, but also winning at least 9 in the process while winning the AFC South. The offensive line is good, the quarterback is extremely accurate, the backfield is enticing, the receiving corps is put in a much better situation with LaFleur, the linebacker group looks great, and the secondary is quality.
With that said, what record do you think the Titans will finish with in 2018?