One of my favorite, and admittedly most futile, things to do before the regular season begins and at the beginning of every work week is checking NFL power rankings. It gives me a sense of how so-called “experts” feel about our team’s current state. Along with my own feelings towards the Titans, getting a national consensus from a variety of different perspectives is intriguing.
In not-so-shocking news, not a lot of people are expecting the Titans to be very good. After an abysmal 2015, the retainment of Mike Mularkey and not many changes on defense has plenty of rankers down on the Titans in 2016. I compiled a small sample of five power rankings to see where the Titans stack up (ESPN’s ranks are too out-of-date and NFL Network is doing their ranks at 10 p.m. tonight).
- SB Nation: ranked 20th
- Bleacher Report: ranked 23rd
- Fox Sports: ranked 28th
- Yahoo! Sports: ranked 28th
- Our very own FanSided: ranked 30th
A couple of those sites have record predictions for the Titans. Fox Sports predicts a 5-11 record, noting an improved running game will not be able to win us too many more games than last year due to a poor pass defense. FanSided has us ranked the lowest of any power rankings I’ve seen, giving us a 3-13 record just like last season. They note that we didn’t do much in free agency, as well as the lack of short-term talent on the roster.
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My take: we signed Rashad Johnson, Rishard Matthews and Ben Jones. There wasn’t much else out there for us to feel the need to make a splash in free agency. We had already traded for DeMarco Murray, and we picked up key offensive pieces in the draft (Jack Conklin, Derrick Henry, Tajae Sharpe). The defensive talent is a legitimate concern, but I don’t see how we’re a bottom-five team as many of these power rankings suggest.
We went 3-13 last year with Marcus Mariota out for four games and zero talent at running back and wide receiver, leaving the defense on the field for way too long. With a much improved offense under our belt, the defense will get more rest and be better for it. While it isn’t overly optimistic, I believe this team can definitely go 7-9, a huge improvement over last year.