Last year in this space, we predicted that the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars were be the two most improved teams in the AFC. We were half right as the Raiders were a playoff club, but the Jaguars flopped again because they don’t know any different. My pick for the team to rise the most in the conference this year? Although they’re still and young team and a doubt for many, the Tennessee Titans are looking as top NFL betting favorites for the season. Let’s find out why.
2017 Win/Loss NFL Betting Prediction for the Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans Futures Odds
- 2017-18 Regular Season Wins: 9 (under -120 favorite)
- Odds To Win AFC South: +180
- Odds To Win AFC Conference: +1800
- Odds To Win Super Bowl LII: +4000
Mariota Ready For Next Step?As mentioned before, some questioned the Tennessee Titans for choosing Oregon quarterback and former Heisman winner Marcus Mariota with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft. But now that looks like genius. Good luck finding a better quarterback in the red zone.So far in his career in the red zone, Mariota has completed 60 of his 94 pass attempts (64 percent) with 33 touchdowns and zero interceptions. And among all 52 quarterbacks with more than 10 red-zone pass attempts over this stretch, Mariota ranks fourth in completion percentage, first in touchdown percentage and first in interception percentage.As a matter of fact, Mariota completed 26-for-42 (61.9 percent) for 195 yards, 15 TDs and no picks as a rookie. Last year, his numbers were 34-for- 54 (63 percent) for 251 yards and 18 TDs.
The Roster Makes the Difference for MariotaAs of now the Titans have set their roster up for the long run, and it starts with Mariota. Before suffering a season-ending injury in Week 16 last year, Mariota was on a run that stacked up well against any quarterback in the NFL. Mariota’s growth in his first two seasons is impressive.Although he has had fumble issues (11 lost), he has thrown six fewer interceptions than Andrew Luck (25) despite playing in five more games. He has done that despite having only one receiver with more than 70 combined receptions (tight end Delanie Walker had 159). And after 27 starts across his first two NFL seasons, Mariota has an impressive career passer rating of 93.8 with 45 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
How is the Offense for This Season?Offensively, Tennessee is set in the backfield with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. The Titans added No. 5 overall pick Corey Davis and Eric Decker to their receiving corps, and Walker is as solid as they come at tight end.Walker said third-round rookie Jonnu Smith will surpass him “one day.” Smith did not get muchpress ink during the offseason program, but coach Mike Mularkey appears to be happy with his rookie tight end.“It’s really fun to coach him because everything’s important,” the coach said. “He looks you dead in the eye; he takes every word in; and he wants to please you. He wants to do right for his teammates.”
So, Is Jonnu Smith a Safe Pick on the Roster?With a similar skill set, Smith looks like the long-term replacement for Walker, who turns 33 in August, but he could get on the field in the Titans’ two-TE sets as early as this year.Decker, who resides in Nashville with his country singer wife Jessie James, is coming off a 2016 season that saw him land on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. He comes to the Titans as a major red zone threat. Decker is second in red zone touchdown receptions (33) since 2012. Decker also brings Super Bowl experience and a veteran presence to the wide receiver room.
Will Defense Keep Improving?Prior to this season, the Titans were a good rushing team (third) and a good run-stopping team (second). Hand in hand with those marks came a 25th-ranked passing offense and 30th-ranked pass defense. If the Titans can stop the run even better, passing against them would become tougher just as a result of the worse down-and-distance situations for opponents.Titans cornerback LeShaun Sims was thrown into the fire during the second part of the 2016 season. Being a fifth-round pick out of Southern Utah in the 2016 NFL Draft, Sims played in 13 games for the Titans in 2016, with two starts. Sims also saw his playing time increase at the end of last season, after the team parted ways with veteran cornerback Perrish Cox.After struggling late in a game against the Bears in late November, Sims settled down in the final month of the season. Pro Football Focus listed Sims as the team’s highest graded player against Kansas City on December 18. Sims intercepted Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith in the end zone in that contest. In the final five games of last year, Sims tallied 16 tackles and six passes defensed.
2017 Tennessee Titans Schedule & OddsTennessee has the second-easiest schedule in the NFL this year by opponents’ 2016 winning percentage. Their foes finished 111-142- 3 (.439).
- Week 1 – vs. Oakland Raiders. NFL Odds: Raiders at -1
- Week 2 – @ Jacksonville Jaguars. NFL Odds: Titans at -1
- Week 3 – vs. Seattle Seahawks. NFL Odds: Seahawks at -2
- Week 4 – @ Houston Texans. NFL Odds: Texans at -3
- Week 5 – @ Miami Dolphins. NFL Odds: Dolphins at -3
- Week 6 – vs. Indianapolis Colts. NFL Odds: Titans at -3
- Week 7 – @ Cleveland Browns. NFL Odds: Titans at -5
- Week 8 – BYE
- Week 9 – vs. Baltimore Ravens. NFL Odds: Titans at -2.5
- Week 10 – vs. Cincinnati Bengals. NFL Odds: Titans at -3
- Week 11 – @ Pittsburgh Steelers. NFL Odds: Steelers at -6.5
- Week 12 – vs. Tennessee Titans. NFL Odds: Colts at -3
- Week 13 – vs. Houston Texans. NFL Odds: Titans at -2.5
- Week 14 – @ St. Louis Cardinals. NFL Odds: Cardinals at -3
- Week 15 – @ San Francisco 49ers. NFL Odss: Titans at -3
- Week 16 – vs. Los Angeles Rams. NFL Odds: Titans at -7
- Week 17 – vs. Jacksonville Jaguars. NFL Odds: Titans TBA