2008 regular season record: 13-3
2009 projected record: 8-8
Finally escaping the shadow of the Indianapolis Colts in a tough AFC South division, the Tennessee Titans exploded onto the NFL scene, utilizing Smash and Dash members, lightning-fast rookie Chris Johnson and bulldozing LenDale White, to power their way into the upper crust of the AFC's elite teams. Despite this, an earlier-than-expected exit in the 2008 playoffs soon followed.
What they need to prove: that they can pass when they need to and survive defensively without Albert Haynesworth.
With geriatric Kerry Collins and severely-underwhelming Vince Young at quarterback, the Titans are limited in the amount of versatility they can provide the offense. Rookie wideout Kenny Britt was drafted to help Justin Gage and the former #3 receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Nate Washington, spread the field. They will probably improve from the 27th ranked YPG passing team in the league as more and more teams stack the box against them, but they'll have to prove to me, many others, and the rest of the league that they aren't completely one-dimensional, offensively.
LenDale White also bulked down this season... in order to gain more playing time, I guess. Did he not realized how he excelled at pounding rival defensive lines into submission? I guess he knows what he's doing. Can Chris Johnson be the savior Tennessee has been looking for? As his role on the offensivee increases, can he become a workhouse back, or will his body not be able to handle the load season after season?
The presence of Albert Haynesworth led the Titans to have the 6th ranked rushing defense in the NFL. How will they respond, now that the face of the defense has moved to D.C.? Tennessee had a great year defending against the pass, as Cortland Finnegan proved to be a dominant force in a secondary loaded with talent.
Above all... can they live up to the expectations that everybody has stacked upon them? The Indianapolis Colts and the Jacksonville Jaguars will be playing like they have something to prove, as both clubs find themselves severely underrated going into the 2009 NFL season. And the Houston Texans finally look to break away from the mediocrity that has plagued them throughout the franchise's short history and into the playoffs with an explosive offense and an improving defense.
In conclusion, I firmly believe that the 2009 Tennessee Titans will be this year's version of the 2008 Cleveland Browns.
Until next time... so long, B/R nation!