The Titans lost 16-19 in the Divisional Round against the Cincinnati Bengals in what was surely a hurtful loss for our little brothers. With Henry back in the mix and a ferocious pass rush, the Titans looked poised to make a big playoff run, but instead they once again failed to reach the big game.
Unlike all 3 teams mentioned before in this series, the Titans biggest strength is not their passing game, but their running game, led by the second best running back in the NFL: Derrick Henry. Henry’s body finally gave hints of wear after three seasons of an absurd usage rate, missing a considerable amount of time after some trouble with his foot. Before that, he was having yet another All-Pro caliber season, and he still got double-digit touchdowns on just 8 games played during the regular season. Henry is a weapon that can take games over in an instant, and requires opposing defenses to stack the box consistently. The Titans also tried to build a strong passing attack to complement Henry, but other than (now Eagles’) receiver A.J. Brown, they failed to do so.
On the defensive side of the ball, Tennessee also has one of the most formidable pass rushing units in the NFL, led by Jeffery Simmons. Harold Landry and Denico Autry are the perfect sidekicks for one of the most disruptive linemen in the NFL, and I would even argue that Simmons is the most talented d-linemen in the NFL not named Aaron Donald. They also have some talented players in the secondary like Kevin Byard, Kristian Fulton, and Elijah Molden.
Also, after some issues finding a starting kicker, it looks like the Titans finally found their guy in the form of Randy Bullock, who made just short of 90% of his kicks last year, and re-signed on a two-year deal.
The Titans’ biggest weakness right now is how one-dimensional and Henry dependent their offensive game has become, and it might be even worse this season. Tannehill is a mediocre NFL quarterback, and now he will be without his top target from last season. Treylon Burks might prove to be a solid player, but rookie wide receivers tend to struggle out of the gate, and Burks will have some big shoes to fill. The addition of Austin Hooper at tight end will help a bit, but overall the Titans’ passing offense looks in shambles right now.
Other than their passing game, the Titans’ main reason for worry this year has to be whether Derrick Henry can remain healthy or not. History tells us that once running backs suffer that first major injury it tends to go downhill from there, and Henry has amassed almost 1.200 touches over the past 4 seasons. If Henry can’t remain on the field, then the Titans chanches of winning the division fall drastically.
How they matchup with the Colts
The Colts, despite boasting a really solid run defense, where destroyed several times by Derrick Henry over the past couple of seasons. Last year, Indy suffered a heartbreaking loss in overtime at LOS after one of the dumbest interceptions I have ever witnessed in my life by former quarterback Carson Wentz, and in the other matchup Wentz was playing injured after a big hit suffered the week prior. With Matt Ryan now at the helm, the Colts’ offense will probably run much smoother, and the defense has improved drastically, adding a proven pass rusher in Yannick Ngakoue and an All-Pro talent at cornerback in Stephon Gilmore. Overall, and assuming everyone is healthy, the two matchups against the Titans this season are going to be very entertaining. On one hand, watching whether our offensive line is for real or not against one of the most dangerous pass rushing units in the NFL, and on the other getting to see if our defense finally manages to stop Henry or not.