2. Tennessee Titans
Last year’s Cinderella story isn’t going to sneak up on anyone in 2020 — especially not the Patriots.
Mike Vrabel’s Tennessee Titans were the darling of the NFL last season, going 7-3 down the stretch after tabbing Ryan Tannehill as the team’s full-time starter in Week 7. Though they ultimately finished 9-7 for the fourth straight season (and the second under Vrabel), they upset the Patriots in the Wild Card round, 20-13, before doing the same to the Ravens in the Divisional round by a score of 28-12.
Tennesse even managed to run up a 10-0 lead on the road over the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs before Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City came back to win the AFC Championship, 35-24.
Many speculated that Tannehill would leave the team in free agency — perhaps even switching places with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Instead, Tannehill and the Titans linked up on a new four-year deal worth $118 million.
Similarly, Derrick Henry — the engine of the Titans offense all last season and the reigning rushing yards leader of the NFL — was expected to sign elsewhere last month. Instead, Tennessee elected to place the franchise tag on Henry, and the former Alabama running back signed it.
The Titans have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, they’re loaded with impressive young talent at receiver and tight end, and their defense is arguably one of the most elite units in the entire league.
In short, this team is the opposite of a flash in the pan or one-year-wonder. Especially in a weak AFC South, the Titans should be able to maintain pace with the Chiefs, Ravens, and Patriots atop their respective division standings.
It will be up to New England to maintain their overall lead during the season over Tennessee.