Are you a casual and not diehard NFL fan? If so, name me one Tennessee Titan other than rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota, the No. 2 pick in this year's draft. Yeah, didn't think so. It's certainly the most nondescript franchise in the NFL -- my current comparisons in the NBA would be the Utah Jazz and in MLB the Arizona Diamondbacks. I'd feel pretty confident wagering that you don't even know who the Titans' head coach is. That would be Ken Whisenhunt.
But I'm not here to quiz you, just give my take on this franchise, and to me it looks like the least-talented in the NFL right now. I hope Mariota is good because I did like him at Oregon, but he's really raw and probably going to need a few years. I still think Zach Mettenberger has a chance to start to begin the season. I fully expect the Titans to be picking No. 1 overall in the 2016 draft, and if any team is going 0-16 this year (none will) it's this one. I'm not sure Whisenhunt will be back next year, either.
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The Titans were 1-7 at home last season, 1-6-1 against the spread and 3-5 "over/under." Their 2015 home schedule ranks as the seventh-easiest in the NFL with an opponents' combined 2014 winning percentage of .441. That's actually the second-hardest in the AFC South.
Here's the schedule with very early (opponent) odds.
Sept. 27 -- Colts (-5): Tennessee opens with winnable games at Tampa Bay and at Cleveland. Indianapolis is on a short week here, hosting the Jets on Monday night in Week 2. Maybe Andrew Luck vs. Mariota will become a big rivalry. The Titans lost 27-10 at home to the Colts in Week 17 last season to end the year on a 10-game skid and finish at 2-14, the franchise's worst season since 1994. Charlie Whitehurst started that game for Tennessee and was predictably terrible, going 12-for-28 for 72 yards with a touchdown. Shonn Greene, recently waived, rushed for 94 yards. Key trend: Titans 1-7 all-time vs. Colts as home dog (3-5 ATS).
Oct. 11 -- Bills (-3): This comes off a way-too-early bye week for Tennessee; if Mariota didn't open the year as the starter, here might be the time. Buffalo is off a Week 4 home game vs. the Giants. The Titans have won five straight in this series, last in 2012. Mettenberger probably could start for Buffalo -- maybe the Bills should look into a trade. Key trend: Titans 5-5 ATS in past 10 following a bye (any location).
Oct. 18 -- Dolphins (-3): This is off Miami's bye week yet I can still see the Fins totally overlooking the Titans and toward a tougher Week 7 home game vs. Houston (then really tough three-game trip after that). First meeting since a Titans 37-3 blowout in south Florida in November 2012. Key trend: Titans 3-7 ATS in past 10 at home vs. AFC East.
Oct. 25 -- Falcons (-1): I haven't compared every single NFL home schedule next to each other, but I'd be willing to bet that Tennessee is the only team in the league with four straight home games. I can't remember that happening. Sure, the bye breaks it up, but not having to leave Nashville for six weeks is nice. Atlanta will have extra time to prepare as it is in New Orleans on Thursday in Week 6. First meeting since 2011. Key trend: Titans 4-2 ATS in six all-time home games vs. NFC South.
Nov. 15 -- Panthers (-2.5): Tennessee is off road games in Houston and New Orleans. Carolina is home to Green Bay in Week 9. So would the Titans right now take a career ceiling for Mariota of the Panthers' fellow former Heisman winner Cam Newton? I'm guessing so. Titans won last meeting in 2011 in blowout fashion when Newton was a rookie. Key trend: Titans 3-6-1 ATS in past 10 at home as a dog of 3 points or fewer.
Nov. 29 -- Raiders (+2): Tennessee will have extra time here as it is in Jacksonville on Thursday night in Week 11. Oakland is in Detroit the previous Sunday. The Titans have won three straight in this series, last 23-19 in Oakland in 2013. Key trend: Titans 4-5-1 ATS in past 10 at home as a favorite of 3 points of fewer.
Dec. 6 -- Jaguars (+3): Interesting that Titans and Jags play for second time in three weeks. This might be the only chance for Tennessee to have a winning streak in 2015. Jacksonville is home to San Diego in Week 12. Titans got their final win of 2014 in Week 6 at home vs. the Jags, 16-14. Sammie Hill blocked a 55-yard field-goal attempt in the final seconds. With Jake Locker hurt and Mettenberger not ready yet, Whitehurst started and was 17-for-28 for 233 yards with no turnovers. Key trend: Titans 3-7 ATS in past 10 as home favorite in series.
Dec. 27 -- Texans (-2.5): Tennessee is off trips to the Jets and Patriots. Houston is at Indianapolis in a potentially big one in Week 15. The Titans lost 30-16 home to the Texans in Week 8 last season. Mettenberger made his first NFL start and threw for 299 yards and two scores but had two turnovers. Tennessee rushed for only 36 yards. Key trend: Titans have failed to cover past four at home in series.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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