Odds from 5dimes.com
The Tennessee Titans were a poor team last year, but they have $105 million reasons why they won’t be this year. Simply put, the team spent. They doled out 12 contracts in the first month of free agency, signaling to a waning fan base that they were not going to be a small market wasteland franchise. In addition to adding the players, they beefed up their coaching staff, hiring defensive genius Gregg Williams and a number of other coveted assistants. Lastly, the team made moves on draft night and brought in some youth.
There’s a whole lot of reasons for Titans fans to be excited. Coach Mike Munchak was not reticent about expressing his high hopes, saying that “We all want to win it.” While winning “it” stands unlikely according to NFL Oddsmakers at 5dimes, the Titans could very well be on their way to a double-digit win season, if their chemistry is right. While making an argument for a greater than .500 record is somewhat difficult, Dowell Loggains improved the offense when he took over, and he should be able to get the most out of Jake Locker. Locker is now entering his third season, so he has ample experience to make more than incremental improvements in 2013.
Locker had a poor 2012, but the Titans maintain that he is a franchise quarterback. His composure was often in question last year, but a lot of that can be due to the offensive line, which was not up to par for the entire season. If Locker flops, the Titans have an insurance plan this year in Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will be seeing some snaps considering he is getting $3.25 per season over the next two years to presumably backup Locker…The presumably hinges mostly on Locker’s health, as the Titans will probably give him some good rope.
Locker (and Fitzpatrick’s, I suppose)’s fate mostly relies on what his receiving corps can do. Kenny Britt is too talented to cause so many problems and needs to be healthy and playing. Kendall Wright needs to improve immensely, though he did catch 64 passes last season as a rookie. Even vets like Nate Washington and Damian Williams will need to perform to peak abilities, because the Titans lack any standout receivers that are going to make Locker’s job extremely easy. Britt should be that type of talent, and Wright may be eventually; but as of right now there is too much uncertainty to feel good about Locker’s corp of receivers.
Fortunately, the team did revamp the OL. The big signing was Andy Levitre to a $46 million deal, which will set the team up nicely at left guard. In the draft, the Titans were fortunate enough to snag Chance Warmack of Alabama, and the nation is well aware of what Warmack and the Crimson Tide were last year as a force in the NCAA. Warmack will fill the right guard spot. Those are the two big names in the defense, but they have a host of solid players including tackles Michael Roos and David Stewart and Fernando Velasco. The new line will make Locker’s job much more doable.
Defensively, that is where the big work really must be done. The Titans gave up a franchise record for points in 2012 and they gave up big play after big play. That is why Williams was brought in to right the ship. He’s going to seek to make the defense more unpredictable and also more aggressive with QB blitzes. The team will line up a lot in the 4-3, but will also use the 3-4 on occasion.
The Titans are not contenders to win the AFC or the Superbowl, but it could be reasonable to see the team contend for a Wild Card spot. And that is the ultimate high upside. Locker’s receivers are too questionable, as is Locker himself, for that matter. He’s a stud, but as to whether that translate to NFL success remains to be seen. Outfitting him with a good offensive line was the first start, and Williams should be able to form a winning defense, but that still may not translate to more than eight or nine wins.
Be sure to check out Maddux’s picks for this NFL season, as we line our bettors pockets once again in big fashion.