-For the Titans to legitimately contend they need to have a target of 10 wins this year. Now 10 wins definitely doesn’t assure a team of the post season, and it is definitely possible to go the playoffs with 9 wins, but 10 wins is a good benchmark to have before the start of the season. Though it isn’t a certainty with 10 wins you put yourself in a good position to make the postseason. With nine or fewer you will probably need a lot of additional help to make the playoffs.
For the Titans to get to that 10 win plateau, it is very important that they win at least three games in the division. Not only would it ensure at least one loss for one of the Colts or Texans (who are also battling for playoff spots), but if you go 1-5 or 2-4 against the division it becomes very hard to win 10 games. At that point you would only have just 1 or 2 losses left among your remaining 10 games. Games that include match-ups versus the Steelers, Broncos, 49ers and Seahawks.
-The Titans have a fairly favorable bye in the middle of the season (week 8), unfortunately before then the schedule makers didn’t do them any favors. They start off on the road against the Steelers and Texans, before three straight home games versus the Chargers, Jets and Chiefs, before back-to-back NFC West games @49ers and home versus the Seahawks. While their final nine games are more favorable, the Titans can’t get too far behind in those first seven games. Even with three wins in the first seven games, the Titans would have to go 7-2 down the stretch to get to the 10 win mark. That will be tough enough to do, so trying to exceed that with 8 or 9 wins seems extremely unlikely. The most likely wins in the first seven games is by sweeping that three game home stand against the Chargers, Jets, and Chiefs.
-The Titans last year finished 10th in the league in rushing yards per attempt, unfortunately they finished only 21st in total yards, because they were 26th in rushing attempts. This year that can’t happen if the Titans are to contend. Chris Johnson is the most talented player on this offense and they have to utilize him more effectively. There is a lot of talk of using Jake Locker in more of a read-option quarterback, which could help maximize his talent, but also open up things for Johnson. Also with a significant upgrade to the offensive line, the running game should even be more effective making it even more likely to be used. Even if the Titans go down early in games they need to stay with the run and let their offense flow through that.
-The Titans averaged 6.6 penalties a game last season, which was tied for 23rd worst in the league. Those are too many free yards they are giving opposing offenses and too many yards they are setting back their own offense. One of the biggest culprits on the team were the quarterbacks as Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker combined for 11 penalties. That is just simply too many unnecessary penalties and is an easy place to cut back on them.
-The Titans were the 30th worst team at allowing opponents to start on average on 30.6 yard line. That is dramatically reducing the size of the field for the defense to defend, and it is a good reason why they were 32 in points allowed last season. The offense is really to blame here as the Titans had one of the higher touchback percentage and net punting yards. The offense needs to not only cut down on the turnovers, which typically lead to very short fields, but they need to be more productive on offense as well. The Titans were among the worst teams in average plays and yards per drive, and finished dead last in time of possession. Despite having a very good punter and coverage team, the Titans were still giving up great field position, simply because their offense wasn’t moving the ball.