The Tennessee Titans will look to build on their success from a surprising run to the AFC Championship in 2019. The clear offseason priority was retaining the key cogs of this offense, both quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry. Even though both players return, the Titans win total sits at just 8.5, they are not favored to win the AFC South, and they have just the 15th best odds to win the Super Bowl. With the betting market not buying the Titans newfound success under Tannehill, I dive into which bets present the most value in this 2020 Tennessee Titans season-long betting preview.[sv slug=mocksim]
Tennessee Titans 2020 season-long betting preview
What changes have the Titans made on offense?
The Titans liked what they saw from their offense under Tannehill, as they averaged over 7 yards per play after starting in Week 10. The team then signed Tannehill to a four-year contract extension over the offseason. However, it was Henry consistently setting the tone at running back on early downs, punishing anyone who dared stand in his way.
This past season, Henry took a step up to elite-level RB status, a class that contains just a handful of other guys. He makes plays with his size and athleticism that I don’t believe any other human on this planet is capable of making, and therefore, earning his place amongst the elite.
What changed for Henry this past season?
It was about this time last year when I began to take notice of the insane workout videos coming out of the Henry camp. It appeared to me that Henry had stepped up his offseason training regimen and the production followed. Judging by this video posted just last week, Henry has continued to train relentlessly. It’s a scary thought, but expect to see an even bigger, stronger, and faster Henry in 2020.
King Henry putting in some uphill work 💪 @Titans
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) June 27, 2020
The only factors going against Henry have nothing to do with him but are rather other factors of the offense. First, the Titans lost right tackle Jack Conklin in free agency to the Cleveland Browns. While Conklin was a very solid tackle, I believe his price tag was a bit steep compared to his production.
Rather, the Titans will look to fill the void with the first-round pick Isaiah Wilson. Wilson flashes elite run blocking skills, and I expect him to fill the right tackle spot as good, if not better than Conklin did.
Can Tannehill do enough for Henry to continue to succeed?
Another concern for Henry is whether or not Tannehill can play up to the level he showcased before earning his long-term deal with the Titans? Tannehill flashed this great potential during his time with the Miami Dolphins, but the lack of consistency and injury history led to his trade to the Titans for just a fourth and seventh-round pick. Tannehill soon proved his value after taking over a 2-4 Titans team from Marcus Mariota and leading them to an AFC Championship.
During this period, Tannehill also led the league in passer rating at 117.5 and had a completion percentage of over 70%. The question is, was this improbable season by Tannehill some sort of phenomena that cannot be repeated, or is this new and improved Tannehill here to stay?
Tannehill is not short on critics who don’t believe he can be as good or better than he showcased in 2019. One media outlet even went as far as to snub Tannehill from the top 10 AFC quarterbacks, behind less proven names like Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and Drew Lock.
Where Tannehill has struggled
Perhaps critics are anticipating that Tannehill’s consistency issues will find him after now that the adrenaline from stepping in mid-season has worn off and he has his cushy new long-term deal. However, when I watch Tannehill last season, I see a player who is a perfect fit for this offensive game-plan with the understanding and the capability to make the right throw every play.
This year, Tannehill gets to spend his entire offseason preparing as the starter, getting another year of work in with a very underrated and talented receiving core in A.J. Brown, Corey Davis, and Adam Humphries.
With not much changing on the offensive side of the ball for the Titans, there is no reason Tannehill can’t build on his success in the upcoming season. Couple that with the extremely positive outlook of the running game led by Henry, and I expect this Titans offense to put up lots of points.
While I think a lot of these points will be due to Henry, expectations are already high on the betting market for “Tractorcito”. Rather, I am looking at Tannehill over 22.5 TDs as my play for the 2020 Titans season-long betting preview. He had 27 TDs in 13 regular and postseason games this past year and has every reason to be better in year two. If we can avoid serious injuries, we win this bet easily.
Official Play: Ryan Tannehill over 22.5 TDs (-110) DraftKings – 3 units
What about the Titans’ defense?
Because the Titans’ spent the money to retain offensive stars Tannehill and Henry, they were forced to let go of some of their veteran leaders on defense. They traded five-time pro bowler Jurrell Casey in what was essentially a salary dump to the Broncos for just a seventh-round pick. While Casey was beloved in Nashville and a leader in the locker room, his $15.1 million a year salary became unjustifiable for a team looking to make a run at a Super Bowl.
The defensive veteran that the Titans will miss the most is cornerback Logan Ryan. Ryan was nothing short of special filling the nickel cornerback role in Dean Pees scheme, racking up 113 tackles, four INTs, four forced fumbles, and 4.5 sacks. I wrote in April that the Titans would be wise to bring Ryan back, however, with that no longer an option following his signing with the New York Jets, we will have to wait and see if anyone can step up and fill that role.
Perhaps the player to fill that cornerback role is second-round pick, Kristian Fulton, out of LSU. Fulton is an incredibly talented athlete that should be able to make a significant impact Week 1, but I think he fits better on the outside.
Instead, I see veteran Malcolm Butler moving inside and filling the slot corner role nicely. No matter what roles the cornerbacks end up playing, it is hard to not be excited about this unit with Fulton, Butler, and the grossly underrated Adoree Jackson.
The only other notable addition is outside linebacker Vic Beasley Jr. Beasley has had an up and down six years in the league, to say the least, racking up 15.5 sacks in 2016, but only five in 2017, five in 2018, and eight in 2019. I think Beasley received a lot of unfair criticism because of his high draft status and ceiling he showcased in 2016. He is not an elite pass-rusher but he is a very solid one, and I am excited to see if he and Harold Landry can get some pressure from the edge this year.
Can Tannehill and the Titans go over their win total?
With the Titans being able to retain their offensive stars from last year, what are realistic expectations for this team in 2020? Considering the continuity in players and teammates, I think the Titans have an extremely optimistic outlook. The team filled every hole on the roster that they needed to fill in the offseason, and if everyone can play up to their potential, there is no reason to think this team cannot achieve greatness.
I am also excited about the coaching staff that is coming back. I will admit that I was not high on the offensive coordinator hire of Arthur Smith last year, but it is undeniable that he and Tannehill work together. I am excited to see what year two holds for Smith and the rest of the offense. In a year where OTAs and preseason games will be limited, this continuity of coaching staff and skill players will be especially paramount.
What does their 2020 schedule look like?
Lastly, I do not believe the Titan’s schedule, particularly their AFC South rivals, will be very tough in 2020. The Texans, who have won the AFC South four of the past five years, traded away their best player in DeAndre Hopkins and appear to be in the midst of an identity crisis under Bill O’Brien. The Jags appear to be in a full rebuild and shouldn’t factor into the division this year at all.
The Colts present the greatest challenge to the Titans in 2020 and are the betting favorite to win the AFC South in 2020. The Colts have some incredibly talented players and do not showcase a lot of weaknesses, but I am just not a believer in Philip Rivers’ arm at age 38. With the rest of the talent on the Colts roster, they may not need anything more than a game manager.
The Titans have an equally talented roster and a better QB, so I am more than willing to take them to win the AFC South at plus money. Below is the full summation of Titans season-long bets I have placed for the 2020 NFL season.
Official play: Tannehill over 22.5 passing TDs (-110) 3 units Draftkings
Official play: Titans over 8.5 wins (-120) 2 units William Hill
Official play: Titans win AFC south .5 units (+185) DraftKings