NFL futures: We're expecting a step backward from the Tennessee Titans

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It was a banner regular season for the Tennessee Titans in 2021. They went 12-5, and in the process won the AFC South and earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC overall. They earned a bye in the playoffs, but that bye didn't help them as they were upset in the divisional round by the eventual AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals.

The continuity is there for the Titans, as head coach Mike Vrabel and starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill both return for 2022. However, the playoff loss to the Bengals certainly soured any optimism surrounding Tannehill's ability to lead a team deep into the postseason. The offseason featured some questionable moves, most notably trading away star receiver A.J. Brown to Philadelphia. Overall, the vibes around the Titans this offseason aren't great.

However, from a preseason big-picture point of view, things aren't drastically different. Entering this past season, the Titans were a part of a two-team race to win the AFC South, with the loser projected to compete for a wild card spot. That same situation basically applies this season as well. The only real difference is that last season, the Titans were slight favorites to get it done. This time around, they're slight underdogs.

For a deeper look at the Titans heading into the season from a pure football perspective, make sure to check out Yahoo's Frank Schwab's season preview on Tennessee. He ranked them 16th in his preseason power rankings. However, in this article, we're taking a deeper look at the betting market's thoughts on Tennessee and how they're expected to stack up this season.

Tennessee expected to compete for division, playoffs

Entering last season, the Titans had a preseason projected win total of nine wins. This year, they are -145 favorites to go under 9.5 wins. Their win total entering this season is higher than their win total entering last season, which is a reflection of the good season they had. It's worth noting that 79% of the money is backing Tennessee to go under 9.5 wins.

At this time last year, the Titans were -110 favorites to win the AFC South. Currently, they are +150 to win the division. Those are the second-best odds behind the Indianapolis Colts, who are -120 to win the division crown.

Currently, Tennessee is a slight -115 favorite to make the playoffs in 2022. They entered last season as a -160 favorite to do so. While it might seem like a big shift, if you convert those odds into probability, it's only a difference of eight percentage points.

Tennessee entered last season projected to compete with Indianapolis to win the AFC South. The team that lost out would compete for a wild-card spot. That's exactly what happened, with Tennessee finishing ahead of the Colts for the division and Indianapolis blowing a chance to clinch a wild card on the final weekend of the season.

Oddsmakers are expecting the same kind of situation this year. The acquisition of Matt Ryan to replace Carson Wentz upgrades the Colts, while the loss of A.J. Brown and others slightly downgrades the Titans. However, these teams are still close and the odds tell us as much. The Colts have assumed the role of favorites, but the Titans are right on their tails.

Titans enter as mid-range Super Bowl pick

Currently at BetMGM, the Tennessee Titans are 30-to-1 to win the Super Bowl. Those are tied for the 14th-best odds in the league. The Titans have the same odds to win it all as the Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals. They're right behind the Colts and Philadelphia Eagles (both 25-to-1), while slightly ahead of the Miami Dolphins, who are 35-to-1.

That's not a bad number for Tennessee. I'd much rather play Tennessee at 30-to-1 than Cleveland for example, who will probably be without their starting quarterback for an extended part of the season. Tennessee had 12 wins last season, only Tampa Bay and Green Bay had 13. They were the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC.

Of course, the issue for Tennessee isn't so much making the playoffs, but rather what happens when it gets there. In the AFC, you're likely to see someone like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson or Russell Wilson in the playoffs. It's hard to see a team led by Ryan Tannehill being able to keep up with those guys. That's why Tennessee is tied for the eighth-best odds to win the AFC at 16-to-1.

Titans awards and prop bets

The Tennessee Titans have certainly produced some award winners over the last few seasons. In 2021, Mike Vrabel won coach of the year. In 2020, Derrick Henry won offensive player of the year and led the league in rushing yards. In 2019, Ryan Tannehill won comeback player of the year while Henry captured his first rushing title. What do the odds look like for key Titans players entering this season?

Mike Vrabel

Last season, Mike Vrabel captured coach of the year honors, finishing ahead of Zac Taylor of the Bengals and Matt LaFleur of the Packers. However, he enters as a 30-to-1 long shot to win the award this upcoming season. No coach has won the award in back-to-back years since Joe Gibbs did so with Washington in 1982 and 1983. Twenty coaches have better odds than Vrabel entering this season.

Derrick Henry

Derrick Henry won back-to-back rushing titles in 2019 and 2020, and he was on pace to do it again last season before a foot injury took him out. We were robbed of a fascinating battle between him and Jonathan Taylor last season. However, oddsmakers are projecting that battle to take place this year. Henry is a +500 co-favorite to lead the league in rushing yards, tied for the best odds with Taylor. Henry led the league in rushing touchdowns in 2019 and 2020 as well. He's +600 to do that this year, second-best odds behind the aforementioned Taylor.

After missing the second half of last season with an injury before returning for the playoffs, Henry is the +350 betting favorite to win comeback player of the year. Henry is 11-to-1 to win AP Offensive Player of the Year. Those are the second-best odds behind Jonathan Taylor. Henry won the award in 2020. Henry is 50-to-1 to win league MVP, tied for the best odds amongst non-quarterbacks with Taylor.

Henry's over/under for rushing yards is set at 1349.5 yards. His over/under for touchdowns is set at 13.5 scores. If Henry is healthy and returns to his previous form, he'll likely blow past those numbers. However, that's the gamble. Henry is reaching that age where running backs tend to fall off. We've seen far too many elite running backs just crash and burn once they reach their late 20s. However, it's clear the betting odds don't expect that to happen this year with King Henry.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - OCTOBER 18: Derrick Henry #22 of the Tennessee Titans runs during to an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Nissan Stadium on October 18, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Derrick Henry is projected to have another monster season and be near the top of the NFL in most rushing categories. (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Treylon Burks

The Titans traded A.J. Brown to the Eagles and used the pick they received in return to select standout wide receiver Treylon Burks from Arkansas. Burks is expected to immediately make an impact for Tennessee, as he and Robert Woods are replacing Brown and Julio Jones. Burks is one of the favorites to win Offensive Rookie of the Year at BetMGM. At +750, Burks has the third-best odds behind Kenny Pickett and Drake London. Rare is it that a rookie has so little competition for targets, but Burks enters with large expectations and an easy path to relevancy. His season-long props are set at over/under 61.5 receptions, 799.5 receiving yards and 4.5 receiving touchdowns.

Ryan Tannehill

Since he's a quarterback, we'll throw out the fact that Tannehill is 100-to-1 to win NFL MVP. Those are the same odds as Daniel Jones, Zach Wilson and Jimmy Garoppolo. Those odds are below the likes of Baker Mayfield, Mitch Trubisky and Carson Wentz.

Tannehill's over/under for passing yards is set at 3599.5 yards and his passing touchdowns mark is set at 21.5 touchdowns. He threw for 3734 yards and 21 touchdowns last season, so these numbers are pretty spot on.

Titans are sizable favorites in Week 1

Tennessee is in good position to get off to a good start when the regular season kicks off on September 11th.

In Week 1, Tennessee plays host to the New York Giants. Tennessee is currently a 6.5-point home favorite.

The Giants figure to be better than they were last season, with Daniel Jones presumed to be healthy and ready to go. Brian Daboll enters his first season as their coach, and he's received a lot of praise for the work he did to aid in the development of Josh Allen as offensive coordinator of the Bills.

However, it's still a Giants team that projects to be average at best. Tennessee should get the victory at home to open the season. With the number less than a touchdown, it's tempting to lay the points with Tennessee. However, one can understand why some would be leery of this Tennessee passing offense being capable of scoring enough points to cover the big number.

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