No player in NFL history has had a pair of 2,000-yard rushing seasons and no player this century has won three straight league rushing crowns. Tennessee's Derrick Henry can accomplish both this year and begins his quest Week 1 against the visiting Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 12. The Titans opened as 2-point favorites on the William Hill Sportsbook NFL odds. Under Coach Mike Vrabel, the Titans are 7-5 against the spread vs. NFC teams but also just 6-8-1 ATS as home favorites overall.
Henry lapped the field with career-high 2,027 yards on the ground last season to win his second straight rushing title; he topped the league with 1,540 yards in 15 games the year before. The last player to win three straight rushing titles was Dallas Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith from 1991-93. No sportsbooks have put out odds to lead the league in 2021 but Henry will be clear favorite, probably somewhere around +400 (he was +600 to open 2020).
Meanwhile, Henry's 2,027 yards were a franchise record, the fifth-most all-time (record is 2,105) and eighth 2,000-yard season in league history. Obviously, adding the 17th game will improve Henry's odds of reaching 2,000 again, but it's still going to be a major betting long shot because of the potential for injury, sitting out a late meaningless game, etc.
Teams may stack the box more than ever this season against Henry considering quarterback Ryan Tannehill lost three of his top pass-catchers in wideouts Corey Davis and Adam Humphries and tight end Jonnu Smith. Tennessee did sign former Rams wideout Josh Reynolds in free agency, and he should be the team's starting "X" receiver opposite A.J. Brown. Dez Fitzpatrick, a rookie fourth-round pick out of Louisville, also could start from Day 1. He averaged 19.4 yards per catch last season.
Defensively, the two big additions were Steelers free-agent linebacker Bud Dupree and first-round rookie cornerback Caleb Farley from Virginia Tech. Dupree had eight sacks in 11 games last season and 11.5 the year before. Some scouts had Farley as the top-ranked corner in the class, but he slid to No. 22 overall because of major injury red flags and opting out of the 2020 season. The Titans took another high-risk, high-reward player in the first round of the 2019 draft in Jeffery Simmons and that turned out to be a great pick.
One has to wonder if the Titans are somewhat stuck in purgatory because they are locked in the same conference as Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes. Peyton Manning won just two Super Bowls because he was stuck in the AFC with Tom Brady. Think of how many good AFC QBs/teams in Brady's 20 Patriots seasons that never even reached a Super Bowl. Mahomes could have a similar impact in the AFC over the next decade-plus.
As for repeating as AFC South champion, Tennessee is the lone team in the division without a new head coach and/or a projected new starting quarterback. It's probably fair to say the other three teams will all have new starting QBs because it's very unlikely Deshaun Watson plays for Houston this year or ever again. Tyrod Taylor will be the Week 1 guy for the Texans, while the Jaguars have Trevor Lawrence and the Colts traded for Carson Wentz.
Schedule-wise, the Titans have eight total games against playoff teams from last season, a franchise record since the team moved to Tennessee, including five consecutive games from Weeks 6-10. The Chiefs' visit in Week 7 is probably must win if Tennessee has any hopes of getting the AFC's top seed and lone first-round bye in the playoffs. Alas, it will be short week for Tennessee off a Monday night Week 6 game vs. Buffalo. That has to be one of the toughest doubles for any team in 2021 but at least both are in Nashville.
The Titans did upset the visiting Chiefs 35-32 in Week 10 of the 2019 season but lost in K.C. in that year's AFC title game. Tennessee avoids Baltimore in 2021 after losing at home to the Ravens in last season's wild-card round.
The Titans' 2021 schedule is ranked as the 13th-toughest in the league as their 17 opponents – hosting the Saints is the 17th game -- were a combined 138-134-0 last season.
Tennessee Titans trends/William Hill Sportsbook odds
- 2020 record: 11-5 (7-9 against the spread, 12-3-1 Over/Under)
- 2021 strength of schedule rank: 13th (opponents' combined winning percentage of .507)
- 2021 Over/Under win total: 9.5
- SportsLine Projection Model forecasted wins: 9.8
- Odds to win Super Bowl 56: +3500
- To win AFC: +1800
- To win AFC South: +120
- To make playoffs: Yes -135, no +115
- NFL MVP odds: Ryan Tannehill +3000, Derrick Henry +3000 (shortest RB odds)
Tennessee Titans Schedule
Week 1 vs. Arizona Cardinals: Titans 4-5-1 ATS past 10 September home games as favorites of 3 points or fewer
Week 2 at Seattle Seahawks: Tennessee 5-0 ATS in past five September road games as underdog
Week 3 vs. Indianapolis Colts: Indy 3-0 SU & ATS past three games in Nashville; Titans scored 17 in each
Week 4 at New York Jets: New York has covered three straight in series with last meeting in 2018
Week 5 at Jacksonville Jaguars: Under 3-0 past three meetings in Jacksonville (Titans 2-1 ATS)
Week 6 vs. Buffalo Bills (MNF): Titans were +3 at home last year vs. Bills and won 42-16
Week 7 vs. Kansas City Chiefs: KC is 1-4 SU & ATS in past five meetings but one win was AFC title game
Week 8 at Indianapolis Colts: Titans 2-0 SU & ATS in past two at Colts following 45-26 upset last year
Week 9 at Los Angeles Rams (SNF): Teams have split past four SU but Titans are 4-0 ATS
Week 10 vs. New Orleans Saints: New Orleans won 38-28 in Nashville two years ago
Week 11 vs. Houston Texans: Houston's lone SU & ATS road win in past five was in 2019
Week 12 at New England Patriots: First meeting since Titans ended Tom Brady's Pats career
Week 13 BYE
Week 14 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jags' lone win past 10 at Titans in 2013; Jacksonville covered in 2020
Week 15 at Pittsburgh Steelers: Pittsburgh was 1-point road dog last year and won 27-24
Week 16 vs. San Francisco 49ers (TNF): Clubs don't play often but Over has hit in five straight meetings
Week 17 vs. Miami Dolphins: Dolphins are 2-0 SU & ATS in past two but those were in South Florida
Week 18 at Houston Texans: Titans have followed seven-game skid in Houston with B2B wins
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