Now we’re over half way through the 2020/21 NFL season. The picture of how the different teams in the league are doing is starting to take shape. Obviously, visitors to the Nissan Field will be most interested in the Titans and this seems like the perfect moment to take a look at where they’ve come from, and where they’re headed in this, their 51st season playing in the NFL and the third under the stewardship of Mike Vrabel. This is especially relevant following their surprise success which saw the team on the verge of the very first Superbowl appearance in the team’s history.
The fact that this is also the very first season that betting is possible on these Tennessee sportsbooks is also making many more people interested in the Titans’ prospects, both match by match and in their eventual end-of-season standing. After all, when there’s money to be won, it always makes sport that little bit more involved.
The end to the last season was one that no-one could possibly have predicted after the decidedly shaky start for the Titans.
Of the first six games played four were lost with the final one in the run being an especially embarrassing defeat 0-16 at the hands of the Denver Broncos. Perhaps fans should have seen this coming from the pre-season games which saw two wins and two losses.
This only served to underline the overall weakness of both the team’s defense and offense too. However, the arrival of Ryan Tennehill from the Miami Dolphins definitely transformed the latter. Throwing a total of over 3,000 yards in the course of the season he was definitely the quarterback that the team had needed. The fact that he started to make a big impression from the moment he was brought on to replace Marcus Mariota in the second half of the Week 6 match of the Broncos pointed the way ahead. In case anyone has forgotten, his season-long efforts even earned him the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award.
By being instrumental in helping the Titans to finish a respectable sixth in the league and then playing a major role in the playoffs, Tannehill can consider himself, and the team, very unlucky to have not made it to the Superbowl. The fact that it was the victorious Kansas City Chiefs who stopped them at the final hurdle can have been of little consolation.
What we’ve seen so far
With no pre-season matches, for obvious reasons, this year it was something of an unknown quantity about how the Titans were shaping up for the 2020-21 contest. However, confidence was high in the squad following last season’s achievements.
This was certainly borne out in the Week One game against the Denver Broncos which was won by the admittedly narrow margin of 16-14 – but enough to banish the memory of the 16-0 defeat by them early last season.
A solid winning streak followed with victories over the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Minnesota Vikings. But, again, the score lines were very close at 33-30 and 31-30 respectively.
Following a bye in Week 4, Week 5 saw a more decisive victory over the Buffalo Bills at 42-16 and this was followed by another very high-scoring match which saw the Titans emerging as 42-36 victors over the Houston Texans.
But then, to many fans’ surprise and horror, the wheels well and truly fell off with defeats by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts. The 24-17 victory over the Chicago Bears did come in the middle of this losing streak but, for many, the warning signs had started to appear.
At this particular stage in the season this is certainly no time for a losing streak to be established. Many observers also noted that it was the defeat by the Indiana Colts that has really seemed to have demoralized the team and has caused some to question whether coach Mike Vrabel’s position might not be under threat. But he has been the first to acknowledge that changes are needed – essentially that there’s a need for him to coach better and the team to play better.
Predictions for the season overall
To look on the optimistic side, there is still time to stop the losses from continuing and to make it into the playoffs yet again, breaking the team’s now traditional 9-7 finish to the season in the process.
While it’s unlikely, at this stage, that Ryan Tannehill will have the same spectacular season as last year he can still be instrumental in turning the team’s fortunes around, especially if he’s supported by Derrick Henry. It will also require AJ Henry to really start to show himself as a star receiver as the season goes on.
Having a strong defense will also be critical and players who could make all the difference here could be D’Andre Walker and Harold Landry, not forgetting Vic Beasley.
One area that will definitely need some improvement is the kicking which really let the team down last season. So plenty of hours spent on the practise field are going to be what’s needed.
While it’s not been the amazing season that may have been hoped for so far, it’s by no means too late to turn things around. And if real Titans can’t manage this kind of transformation, then who can?