The defending AFC South Champions head into the 2022 season as underdogs to repeat after winning twelve games, clinching the top seed in the AFC playoffs, and ultimately falling to the Cincinnati Bengals at home in the Divisional round. The Titans are +170 to repeat as division champions, while the Indianapolis Colts sit at -125.
Both teams have win totals currently being offered at 9.5, and this race is expected to be close. In terms of Super Bowl odds, the Titans are listed at 35-1 in Action Network’s consensus, trailing significantly behind the Colts at 22-1. It’s clear that bookmakers are bullish on the Colts after a disappointing season, and worth digging into why they are devaluing a Titans team that was two games away from the Super Bowl in 2021.
Playing in the AFC South affords the Titans the luxury of being tied for the 8th-easiest schedule in the NFL this season according to 2021’s win-loss records. Two games each against the Texans and Jaguars will help, and the AFC South plays the NFC East this season as well. Despite playing a first-place schedule, the Titans have an edge in that department over the other 2021 division winners.
Tannehill Looks to Put Awful Playoff Game Behind Him
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill had his worst season statistically for Tennessee in 2021, throwing 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Despite that, his 55.9 QBR was still good enough for 8th-best in the NFL. Running back Derrick Henry was on pace for a historic season until a Jones fracture in his right foot caused him to miss the final 9 games.
He finished 9th in the league in rushing yards regardless and will sit out the preseason this year in anticipation of a Week 1 debut this season. Tennessee will rely on Henry to be the heartbeat of their offense once again, and it remains to be seen how recovered from that injury he’ll be.
The Titans’ wide receiver room looks a bit different this year without AJ Brown. They traded Brown to Philadelphia for a first-round pick that became Treylon Burks and picked up Robert Woods from Los Angeles for a 6th-round pick next year.
Both will start at wideout to begin the 2022 season to give Tannehill more targets. Tennessee signed Austin Hooper to a one-year deal this offseason, and they expect him to start at tight end in Week 1 as well.
Tennessee’s Defense Looks to be Coming into Its Own
The Titans return three 2021 Pro Bowlers on defense, starting with leading tackler Kevin Byard at safety. Byard also snagged five interceptions and scored touchdowns on interception and fumble returns last season to be named a first-team All-Pro. Linebacker Harold Landry III and defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons Jr. became first-time Pro Bowlers in 2021.
Landry signed a 5-year, $87.5 million contract on the heels of his great season, and Simmons is entering the fourth year of his rookie deal. Tennessee did not do much in free agency on defense after a year in which their unit ranked 6th in points against and twelfth in yards allowed.
In what will be a tightly-contested division race and AFC in 2022, the Titans will be a factor. The health of Derrick Henry and the consistent play of Ryan Tannehill is vital to their chances, and both will be put to the test early this season in two October matchups with the Indianapolis Colts.