Tennessee Titans 2021-2022 Season Preview, Odds and Win Totals

Mike Vrabel and the Titans are the prohibitive favorites to win the AFC South in 2021.
Mike Vrabel and the Titans are the prohibitive favorites to win the AFC South in 2021. / George Walker IV / Tennessean.com via

The Tennessee Titans took home their third AFC South division championship in 2020 and their first since the 2008 season, finishing 11-5. After a 5-0 start, including a dominant 42-16 win over the Buffalo Bills, conversations of whether Tennessee would be the team to knock off the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC began to slowly creep into the national landscape. They ended up stumbling, losing to both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals in back-to-back weeks before playing solid football the rest of the season, never having more than a two-game losing streak since Week 7.

The Titans' season culminated with a 20-13 loss at home to the Baltimore Ravens, the team they knocked out of the postseason the year before. 

Tennessee Titans 2021 Outlook

Heading into 2021, the Titans remain confident that this is their season to return to a third straight playoff appearance. The Falcons’ leading wide receiver in team history, Julio Jones, is now theirs, making up a lethal downfield combination with third-year stud A.J. Brown. Ryan Tannehill is coming off a terrific year with a career high 33 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions, and by far his highest QBR in eight years at 78.3. And then there’s Derrick Henry, who became just the eighth rusher in NFL history to eclipse 2,000 rushing yards in 2020.

On offense, there are some notable changes, including new offensive coordinator Todd Downing who takes over for Arthur Smith after leaving to become the head coach of the Falcons. Downing was the tight ends coach for Mike Vrabel, and is tasked with executing an offense that maximized the team’s best strengths, predominantly through a heavy dose of play-action. Henry was the only back in the NFL a season ago to average more than 20 carries per game, leading Tannehill to sell the run and find plenty of open receivers downfield. The loss of tight end Jonnu Smith, particularly in the red zone will be difficult to replace with Anthony Firkser moving in, but the addition of Jones as a replacement for Corey Davis should help offset any major receiving issues.

Defensively, the addition of edge rusher Bud Dupree from Pittsburgh should play a prominent role towards improving a key weakness in their defense: pass rush. The Steelers pass rusher signed a five year, $82.5 million dollar deal despite an ACL tear in December of last year. The Titans will need Dupree to recover quickly and efficiently to help a pass rush that finished with just 19 total sacks last year, third-worst in the NFL. Jeffery Simmons enters his third season in the league leading the interior line, and if the Titans can generate pressure, it should help their poor pass defense numbers improve after giving up the second-most touchdowns in the NFL in 2020.

Tennessee Titans 2021 NFL Draft

Tennessee took a mighty swing at pick 22 overall with Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley. Considered to be a top 10 talent in the draft, Farley’s ongoing back issues pushed him down to the final third of the first round. If he’s healthy, he’s perhaps the top corner in the draft, even ahead of players that went in the top 10 like Jaycee Horn of the Panthers, and Patrick Surtain II of the Broncos.

In the second round, the Titans added offensive tackle Dillon Radunz from North Dakota State. They’ll need him to play immediately with both Dennis Kelly and Isaiah Wilson heading elsewhere. In the mid-tier rounds, Tennessee snatched up Georgia linebacker Monty Rice and Washington corner Elijah Molden in the third rounds, a well as Louisville receiver Dez Fitzpatrick in the fourth. The team also selected Pittsburgh linebacker Rashad Weaver, but he’s facing an assault charge from an incident in April. Weaver’s attorney has denied the allegations.

Tennessee Titans: Division (-150), Conference (+1000), Super Bowl (+2000)

The Titans have moved from +100 odds to win the AFC South over at WynnBET Sportsbook, second behind the Colts at -110 to the favorites following the news that Carson Wentz will have surgery on his foot. Tennessee is now the division favorites at odds of -130, with the Colts behind at +160, Jacksonville at +750, and Houston trailing at +2500 for the division.

Tennessee also comes in at +1000 to take home an AFC Conference championship, as well as +2000, or 20/1 odds to win Super Bowl 56.

Tennessee Titans Regular Season Win Total: 9.5 WINS | OVER (-105), UNDER (-115)

Ben Heisler:

The recent news of Carson Wentz’s foot injury surgery may cause Titans’ fans to believe the division is now theirs on a silver platter before the season even begins. Even WynnBET has shifted gears, moving the Titans’ projected odds to win the AFC South from +100 to -130.

I’m here to tell you it’s not going to happen.

The loss of offensive Arthur Smith is not being discussed nearly enough as a primary catalyst for concern. The Titans have been one of the most efficient offensive teams in the NFL over the past few seasons, and Smith’s connection with Tannehill has helped him succeed in a heavy play-action offense that maximizes his skillset while hiding his flaws. His departure to Atlanta could spell trouble.

The defense is also a mess. Tennessee gave up the second most passing touchdowns as well as the fourth-most passing yards, ranking 29th overall in Football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings. I’m big on the Caleb Farley draft pick at cornerback, but who knows what the condition of his back will be throughout the entire season.

Lastly, there’s no denying the greatness of Derrick Henry, but historial trends tell us that not even the best NFL running backs can hold up forever. 

My former SI.com colleague Michael Fabiano shared what happened to the previous seven running backs in NFL history after rushing for over 2,000 the season before. All seven experienced, “no less than a 562-yard decrease in rushing yards” the season after. Henry could still be productive, but elite level rushers have all taken a substantial step backward the following year and I expect the same for Henry.

The Titans, while immensely talented, remain flawed in key areas which catch up to them in 2021.



Donnavan Smoot:

The Titans made the biggest splash of the offseason when they traded for Julio Jones. They added one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the league alongside arguably the best running back and created a pick-your-poison offense. 

Before the Carson Wentz injury, I thought the Colts would win the division. I have switched my pick and believe the Titans will win the AFC South. Even though Ryan Tannehill isn’t an elite quarterback he’s shown that he can make difficult throws. With A.J. Brown and Jones on either side, his job just got a whole lot easier. 

Also, it would be wrong if I didn’t even mention Derrick Henry’s name. He is the most dominant force on the ground in the league and the Titans will be able to be equally as dominant through the air as they are on the ground.

The one reason I’m not all in on Tennessee being Super Bowl contenders is because of their defense. Tennessee gave up the fourth-most yards per game last year (398.4) and were 24th in points allowed per game (27.0). The Titans are just too vulnerable on defense to be taken seriously as Super Bowl contenders. 

I think the addition of Jones makes them a better team. However, with that defense and the extra game, it might not look all that different in the win column. 



Peter Dewey: 

After the Colts lost quarterback Carson Wentz for possibly up to 12 weeks due to a foot injury, the Titans surged into the top spot in the AFC South at -130 odds. 

Wentz’s timetable is officially 5-to-12 weeks, but it’s hard to see him rushing back to hit the earlier side of that timeline and being effective. Luckily for the Titans, they play both of their matchups with the Colts by the end of October, which means there is a chance Wentz isn’t in the lineup for either game.

Tennessee improved in its own right this offseason, as it added a major offensive weapon in Julio Jones on the outside. A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry are back, and while it may be foolish to expect Henry to put up another 2,000-yard season, he’s certainly going to have some more room to run with both Jones and Brown commanding attention on the outside. 

Considering the Titans are playing in one of the worst divisions in football, I like their chances to have a big season in 2021. As long as first-round pick Caleb Farley and the addition of pass rusher Bud Dupree help improve a defense that allowed the fifth-most yards in the NFL last season, I can’t see why the Titans don’t smash their 9.5 win projection on WynnBET. 

Ryan Tannehill is more than just a game manager at quarterback, and if Wentz is out for the longer side of his timetable, I can see the Titans pushing 11 wins, which is a solid value at +750 odds. 



Iain MacMillan:

The Tennessee Titans will look to get back to the NFL postseason for the third consecutive season in 2021. After a 11-5 record in 2020, the Titans lost in the wild card round of the playoffs to the Baltimore Ravens.

Despite the strong record last season, the Titans have a lot of holes they need to fill if they want to continue their success. Tennessee had one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2020, and it did very little to address the issue in the offseason.

The Titans ranked 24th in scoring defense, allowing an average of 27 points per game. They were also 29th in opponent yards, giving up 398.4 yards per game. The list of defensive woes continue, as they ranked dead last in opponent third down conversion percentage (51.98%) and 30th in red zone defense, allowing teams to score on 67.65% of red zone trips.

That level of defense won’t normally lead to an 11-5 record like it did last year. To add insult to injury, Tennessee released cornerback Malcom Butler. There’s no indication that its defense will see any major improvements in 2021.

The Titans also lost offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, who is now the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Finally, the Titans got bad luck with their 17th scheduled game, as the NFL gave them the New Orleans Saints in Week 10.

If there’s one bright spot for the Titans, it’s that the Carson Wentz injury means they may have little competition in the AFC South.

With that being said, I can’t bet on a team with this bad of a defense to find success in 2021.



Will the Tennessee Titans Make the Playoffs? | MISS THE PLAYOFFS (+130), MAKE THE PLAYOFFS (-170)

Ben Heisler: 

Tennessee has too many glaring holes on the defensive side of the ball, as well as a lot of turnover with a new offensive scheme in place. There’s no denying that A.J. Brown, Derrick Henry and the recently acquired Julio Jones are studs, but Arthur Smith was a key quarterback whisperer to Ryan Tannehill in an offensive that was perfectly tailored for his skillset. 

With concerns over Henry’s workload finally piling up, along with a plethora of issues and changes, I still plan to fade the Titans to make the postseason despite being the favorites to win the division.


Donnavan Smoot:

The Titans are going to make the playoffs. I feel it will be by way of winning the division. If the Titans find a way to fumble this season and not win the AFC South, I still trust them more than some of the other fringe playoff teams. 

I don’t think they are set up for a deep run with this defense, but making it and winning it all are two separate conversations. The Titans have made deep runs before and have experienced what it takes to win meaningful games down the stretch of the season. That matters and if things get tough, Tennessee will find a way. 


Peter Dewey: 

Now that Wentz is hurt, the Titans’ path to a playoff spot has gotten much clearer. 

Tennessee’s offense is projected to be the second-highest scoring team in the league (+700) at WynnBET, and a little improvement defensively will go a long way for the Titans after winning 11 games last season. 

I still think taking them to win the AFC South at -130 rather than to make the playoffs at -170 is a better value, but either way expect the Titans to make the postseason again in 2021. 


Iain MacMillan:

The AFC South grabbed two playoff spots last season, but I don’t think that will be the case in 2021. I don’t think that a wild card spot will be secured by an AFC South team, so I think we’ll only see the division winner in the postseason.

If it wasn’t for the Carson Wentz injury, I’d be all over the Titans missing the playoffs, but we don’t exactly know how long Wentz will miss time for the Colts.

With that being said, I’m still going to lean towards Tennessee missing the playoffs. I just can’t bet on a team with this bad of a defense to make the postseason two straight seasons. The Titans will need to use the next offseason to address this issue, because they did almost nothing after the 2020 season to fix it.

Sorry Titans fans, I don’t think you’re going to see playoff football in 2021.



Every day from the start of NFL Training Camp, the BetSided team of Ben Heisler, Donnavan Smoot, Peter Dewey and Iain MacMillan are breaking down the win totals, playoff and Super Bowl odds for every team in the NFL.

Check back Wednesday at 1 p.m. EDT when we preview the betting outlook for the Jacksonville Jaguars and check out our earlier team-by-team betting previews.


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