Why Vegas is down on the Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When it comes to analysts, or  “analysts,” not thinking much of the Titans, I consistently tell you to pay them no heed.

TitansChipI have a hard time understanding why so many Titans' fans get so worked up when a no-name fantasy analyst they’ve never heard of before who’s a league employee says the Titans will win three games. (I mentioned in my recent mailbag.)

Even if you’re an overly optimistic homer, you know more about the team than he does, unless you consider having a great degree of fantasy-ranking knowledge counting as in-depth knowledge of a team.

But I do wonder why Vegas, which typically knows what is what, is down on the Titans.

According to Sascha Paruk from SBD, oddsmakers consider the AFC South one of the most wide-open divisions in the NFL.

Five of the eight divisions have an odds-on favorite, but no team in the South is shorter than even-money to win the division title when you average out the odds from online sportsbooks. The Colts at +110 are the favorites – bet $100 to win $110. But the Texans at +260 are considered serious contenders, and the Jaguars at +400 are being given a reasonable shot. Only Titans at +620 are seen as true longshots to win the division.

Bookmakers are down on the Titans’ pass rush and receivers.

The pass-rush-by-committee ranked 22nd in adjusted sack rate and the people who set these numbers are not expecting the addition of 37-year-old Cam Wake and the growth of Harold Landry and others to make a dramatic difference. That is not a path to beating Andrew Luck and the Colts, who are 11-0 against Tennessee when he quarterbacks them.

The Titans clearly know their pass rush is insufficient personnel-wise. They drafted Jeffery Simmons 19th overall and he will provide interior push along with Jurrell Casey. But he will continue to recover from a torn ACL well into the season.

I shared some evidence in May that Vrabel’s been around a lot of teams without a premier sack guy that have rushed the passer well enough to win.

apple icon 144x144 precomposedVrabel and Dean Pees believe they can scheme up a pass rush that can provide what their players cannot provide straight up. But that’s not the sort of thing that is going to influence bookmakers.

The addition of a much better slot-option in Adam Humphries and a potentially dynamic player in rookie A.J. Brown should upgrade Marcus Mariota’s weaponry. He’s also getting Delanie Walker back. If their passing game, which finished 22nd in efficiency last year, should take steps.

Uncertainty scares bettors, but if the number is big enough against them it can prompt some action. Nothing in what looks like a good offseason to those of us who follow the team closely was big enough to move the needle dramatically for an average bettor looking for a deal at a window or with their account.

Vegas doesn’t necessarily think the Titans are the fourth best team in the AFC South right now. It knows few people are betting on the Titans to win the division so the number grew to make it more tempting.

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