Three bold predictions for the Titans in 2021: Re-energized passing attack sparks another deep postseason run

The Tennessee Titans are coming off of a huge campaign, as they won the AFC South for the first time since 2008 and Derrick Henry repeated as the league’s leading rusher — becoming just the eighth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. While the Titans were ousted from the postseason by the Baltimore Ravens in the wild-card round, there’s reason to be excited about the future. Tennessee might have scored a steal in the 2021 NFL Draft with their first-round pick and also made a deal to acquire star receiver Julio Jones this offseason.

Are the Titans the easy favorites to win the division again in 2021? Could they be a Super Bowl sleeper? Let’s examine three bold predictions for Tennessee as the Titans gear up for the 2021 season. 

Ryan Tannehill will finish top five in TD passes

Revisiting the story of Tannehill doesn’t get old — whether you’re a Titans fan or not. Two years ago, Tennessee gave the Miami Dolphins a seventh-round pick and a fourth-round pick in exchange for Tannehill on a restructured contract and a sixth-round pick. The former first-round bust went on to turn the Titans into a legitimate playoff contender and won the 2019 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award after being inserted into the starting lineup midseason. 

The Titans gave Tannehill a new deal after his impressive 2019 campaign, and he didn’t disappoint in 2020. Tannehill went 11-5 as the starter and threw for 3,819 yards, 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions as the Titans won the division. Tannehill’s career-high 33 passing scores tied for seventh in the league last year, but he will break into the top five in 2021. Everyone knows the offense runs through Henry, but this passing attack should be improved. Adding superstar Julio Jones should open up things, and then the addition of Josh Reynolds is an underrated one as well. Those in Nashville tried to keep him a secret, but there’s some hype around new TE1 Anthony Firkser too. With the offensive line back fully healthy and A.J. Brown and Jones on the outside, this will be the best situation Tannehill has had in his career. 

Tennessee discovers a young dynamic duo at cornerback

This is a double bold prediction! If you had to identify a weak spot on the Titans’ roster, it’s definitely the secondary. Tennessee released starting strong safety Kenny Vaccaro this offseason and Kevin Byard had a forgettable campaign, but the real worry is cornerback. Tennessee no longer has both of last year’s starters in Adoree’ Jackson and Malcolm Butler. The Titans picked up speedy veteran Janoris Jenkins in free agency, but have a lot riding on Kristian Fulton and first-round pick Caleb Farley. Our bold prediction is that Fulton and Farley make huge strides in 2021, and become a bit of a young dynamic duo at corner.

Fulton was selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of LSU, although many viewed him as a first-round talent. He played in just six games in his rookie season due to a knee injury, recording 16 combined tackles, one pass defensed and one interception. Fulton has made some impressive plays in training camp and even “dominated” a session earlier this month according to Luke Worsham of AtoZ Sports. He’s a player many NFL fans have probably forgotten about, but Fulton was listed as a starter on the Titans’ first unofficial depth chart and possesses enough talent to retain that spot for years to come.

As for Farley, you can take one look at him on the practice field and see he has legitimate star potential in the NFL. The only thing that could hold him back is his health, which is a legitimate concern. He even fell in the draft this offseason due to what was described as a “minor” back procedure. It took months for him to recover and he just recently hit the practice field for the first time. Not many cornerbacks come in and immediately dominate all-world receivers on the outside, but Farley does appear to have that kind of talent. Our bold prediction is that he stays healthy and makes a major impact in Year 1, and Fulton establishes himself as a legitimate starter with upside. Tennessee’s glaring weakness might not be as bad as some may anticipate. 

Titans make it back to the AFC title game

After a miraculous postseason run a couple of years ago, the Titans could pull off another in 2021. The dynamic offensive attack is a big reason for optimism, but the passing game in particular is why I’m optimistic. Tannehill has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL since he took over as the full-time starter, but Tennessee struggled to put up points when it mattered most in its last two postseason losses — when Henry wasn’t himself. Against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game, Henry rushed for just 69 yards, and Tannehill threw for 209 yards and two scores. The Titans scored just seven points in the second half of the 35-24 loss. Against the Ravens last year, when Henry rushed for just 40 yards, Tannehill threw for only 165 yards, one touchdown and one interception as the Titans scored just three points in the second half. With the additions of Jones and Reynolds, Tennessee’s passing attack should improve in those big moments. Which is why the Titans will find themselves on the doorstep of the Super Bowl once again. Am I bold enough to predict that the Titans will get to the Super Bowl? Not quite. But they have that potential. 

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