Titans Season Win Total Prediction
Many of the Tennessee faithful lamented the talent – or lack thereof – around Marcus Mariota during the quarterback’s rookie season. This fall, no such excuses exist.
With the arrival of former 2,000-yard rusher Demarco Murray, the Titans hope to assert themselves as a force with which to be reckoned in 2016. Oddsmakers, however, aren’t taking the bait just yet. Online sports book Bovada.lv sets the squad’s win total at 4.5.
Last year produced a 3-13 record and nary a triumph after Dec. 6. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt actually paid the biggest price well before the organization’s season-ending loss to Indianapolis, getting axed on the heels of a 20-6 misstep against Houston. Mariota will now work with Mike Mularkey and general manager John Robinson to reinvigorate a group whose most recent playoff appearance came in 2008.
Aside from the ex-Oregon star, the offense’s most important player assumes the form of someone who gained a grand total of 702 yards on the ground a season ago. Yet, Murray hardly had a chance of flourishing in Chip Kelly’s unconventional Philadelphia system. Tennessee OC Terry Robiskie promises to let Murray return to the north-south style that made him a star in Dallas. In order to keep No. 29 fresh, Robinson & Co. also drafted reigning Heisman victor Derrick Henry. If Russ Grimm’s O-line can hold up its end of the bargain, look for the Titans to pound the rock as well as any squad in the AFC.
Mariota boasts several vertical threats, too, specifically Dorial Green-Beckham and Delanie Walker. Green-Beckham could well lead the receiving corps in yards as a sophomore. His 6-foot-5 frame draws plenty of attention in the red zone, and good wheels allow him to sprint past undersized corners with decent regularity. As for Walker, few tight ends match his reliability on an annual basis. Coming off a career-high 94 catches, the California native’s an absolute lock for 100 targets and six-plus touchdowns.
Defensively, Jurrell Casey functions as the anchor up front. DaQuan Jones and Al Woods offer solid complements along the line. Things get interesting at the second level, where second-round selection Kevin Dodd figures to challenge incumbent starters Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo. Jason McCourty, having recovered from groin surgery, leads a fairly deep secondary. All in all, ageless wonder Dick LeBeau possesses some nice toys at his disposal.
Chief among the luxury items, of course, is Mariota. He completed a stunning 62 percent of his attempts in his initial campaign, racking up 2,818 yards and 19 TDs in the process. The coaching staff loves the dual threat’s ability to protect the pigskin as well. Mariota threw just 10 interceptions, and it’s downright tantalizing to consider what the heights he’s capable of scaling if healthy for 16 games.
Here’s the problem: Tennessee simply doesn’t carry enough depth at assorted positions right now. If injuries ravage the wideouts or front four, how do the Titans compete? Being in the largely feeble AFC South certainly helps expedite the rebuilding process, but you’re still looking at a below-.500 team. Nonetheless, we’ll pencil the Music City crowd in for six triumphs.
TUESDAY NFL FREE PICK: TENNESSEE TITANS OVER 5.5 WINS (-155)