The NFL is currently in that weird gray-area of the calendar year where there isn’t much going on but everyone is craving something of substance – myself included. The Tennessee Titans gave their fans a lot of hope closing out the 2016 season with a “W” and finishing up with a winning record of 9-7.
The Titans exceeded, I think, everybody’s expectations. There’s always the should’ve, could’ve, would’ve, but a six game improvement is definitely something to be proud of going into next season. I’ve read many different articles since the close of the season and quite a few people think that the Titans have a chance at being 2017’s Atlanta Falcons; meaning the team that gets hot at the right time and takes that huge leap.
As the title says, the main purpose of this article is for my “way too early” bold predictions for 2017.
*Disclosure – I do not have ESP*
1. Titans sign S Eric Berry
This is my biggest wish for the Titans albeit the longest of long shots. Eric Berry will be the most coveted potential free agent this year. He played under the franchise tag in 2016 with the Kansas City Chiefs and has made it clear that he will not play under it again. I understand that he wants the security of a long term deal, but he would be in line for a 20% increase from last year’s franchise tag, making this year’s worth almost $13 million to stay with the Chiefs. The Titans are currently in the top five for the most salary cap space and if Berry does hit the market… I see the Titans being a top landing spot for the Volunteer alumnus. One of the biggest weaknesses for the Titans would instantly be addressed with the acquisition of Berry.
2. GM Jon Robinson pulls off two trades for the 2017 NFL Draft
The Titans GM showed early last year, in his first year, that he isn’t shy of making moves. He landed quite the haul with last year’s trade of the #1 overall pick to the Rams, which landed the Titans more picks for this year’s draft. The new era Titans are all about getting the right player with the right mindset at the right price (pick). Only the Titans brass knows what their big board currently looks like so if Robinson thinks he can move back and still land the player he wants… he’s going to make the trade. The only thing we do truly know is that WRs, CBs, and safeties are at the top of the list.
3. Titans will win 11 games and the AFC South crown
You’re probably thinking, “that’s not a bold prediction, that’s only a two game improvement”. Let’s agree to disagree. Winning 11 games in the NFL is not an easy task. The Titans managed to win 9 in 2016 and could’ve easily hit 11 wins had they minimized a couple of key mistakes in certain games. The Titans are tied for the 2nd easiest strength of schedule which should help the Titans make the 2 win improvement. The Titans are also in arguably the weakest division in football. Andrew Luck and the Colts had a down year and I can’t imagine it’ll be that kind of year again, but I don’t see them making the improvements that the Titans are making. The biggest thing the Titans have to overcome leads me to #4…
4. The Titans will go 2-0 vs. the Colts in 2017
For some reason… the Titans have let Andrew Luck own them. Luck is 9-0 versus the Titans. I thought 2016 was going to be the year that changed, but it wasn’t. The Titans suffered a loss in both games by a single possession (lost by 8 at home and lost by 7 on the road) in 2016. The Titans are going to break that streak for good in 2017. The Titans beating the Colts will be a huge morale boost. Letting your rival “own” you is deflating and I am confident that the Titans are tired of it and going to fix it in a big way this year. The Titans will best the Colts in both matchups in 2017.
5. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry will end up with 10 Total TDs each
The Titans finished third in the league for the most rushing yards as a team with nearly 2,200 yards. Derrick Henry was grossly underused, but did show a lot to be excited about. He’s a bruising down hill runner with great size and speed but is also agile for his size. He’s best when running north and south, but isn’t afraid to break to the outside. DeMarco Murray was in the discussion for Comeback Player of the Year, reverting back to the highlight reel version of himself when he donned a Dallas Cowboys jersey. The Titans will continue to grow with Coach Mike Mularkey’s exotic-smashmouth football system and I think the Titans will use a more balanced approach with Murray and Henry in 2017.
Well there you have it… my five way too early bold predictions for 2017. What do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Which ones do you think are most likely to happen?
It will be fun to revisit a year from now to see how these play out.