There's a suspicion that the Tennessee Titans are approaching a major offensive crossroads this year with QB Ryan Tannehill and RB Derrick Henry not the forces of old.
Tannehill threw three interceptions in the Titans' Divisional Round defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals last January and is about to take up the largest cap hit of any individual NFL player this coming season.
Henry missed nine regular-season contests in 2021 with injury, but has just been given a new contract that makes him the highest-paid rusher in the game.
Both will need to stay healthy and hungry for Mike Vrabel's men to make it back to the postseason - where they will then try to make amends for the miscues that cost them a chance to host the AFC Championship Game.
But they will have to do it without former leading wideout AJ Brown, who provided nearly 3,000 yards of receiving yards during his first three seasons, who was surprisingly traded to the Philadelphia Eagles.
|What:||NFL Season 2022/23|
|Where:||All across the U.S.A with three games scheduled for London, one for Munich and one in Mexico City.|
|When:||8th September 2022 - 12th February 2023|
|How to watch:||The vast majority of games are live and on-demand with NFL Game Pass, while selected games are available via Sky Sports, Channel 5 and Amazon Prime.|
BUF Bills 6/1, TB Buccaneers 7/1, KC Chiefs 10/1, LA Rams 11/1, GB Packers 12/1.
1st in AFC South (12-5)
Reaching the playoffs any which way must be the objective for the Titans, who acquired veteran wide receiver Robert Woods in a trade from the Los Angeles Rams over a month before they pulled the plug on unsettled star Brown.
Tennessee's elite defensive front remains intact and the secondary is loaded with talent, so defensively they are very few concerns about their ability to get even the best offensive units off the field on third down.
However, outside linebacker Harold Landry, who produced a career-high 12 sacks in 2021, suffered a torn ACL during practice this month and will be almost impossible to replace.
The Indianapolis Colts will make a strong challenge for the division title after adding veteran quarterback Matt Ryan to the lineup and the rest of the AFC looks to have got better too - leaving many to wonder if the Titans' regular trips to the postseason are about to end.
Tennessee welcomes the New York Giants to Music City in Week 1.
It will be the first game as head coach for new Giants supremo Brian Daboll, whose team finished a lowly 4-13 last season and closed out their campaign with six straight losses.
Big Blue were 1-8 on the road in 2021 as many of their key players had seasons to forget.
New York, who are 43/20 on the Money Line, are 0-5 in their last five opening games, while the 5/13 Titans have beaten the Giants in three of the four matchups previously played in Memphis.
The Titans will enjoy the national television spotlight at least four times this season - starting with the Week 2 trip to face the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football.
They face another stern road test at Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs in week 9 - made doubly hard by the fact the hosts are coming off a bye week.
Vrabel's men are at Lambeau Field for a Thursday night clash with the Green Bay Packers in Week 11 and host the Dallas Cowboys, again on Thursday, a few days after Christmas.
The good news though is that the Titans have won five of their last seven primetime games, and went 3-0 in nationally-televised evening contests last season.
Vrabel has delivered six straight winning seasons, four straight playoff berths and back-to-back AFC South titles.
Since he took over as the Titans head coach, the team has played a fundamentally sound, smart and hard-nosed brand of football to post a 41-24 record with tangible improvement every season.
RB Trenton Cannon (San Francicso 49ers)
WR Robert Woods (Los Angeles Rams)
TE Austin Hooper (Cleveland Browns)
OT/G Jamarco Jones (Seattle Seahawks)
DE DeMarcus Walker (Houston Texans)
CB Lonnie Johnson Jr (Houston Texans)
WR A.J. Brown (Philadelphia Eagles)
WR Julio Jones (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
TE MyCole Pruitt (Atlanta Falcons)
OT David Quessenberry (Buffalo Bills)
G Rodger Saffold (Buffalo Bills)
LB Jayon Brown (Las Vegas Raiders)
CB Janoris Jenkins
TE Anthony Firkser
LB Rashaan Evans (Atlanta Falcons)
WR Chester Rogers
|Defensive MVP||Kevin Byard|
Treylon Burks (1st Round)
Henry, one of the few remaining workhorse backs in the NFL, is an all-time great, but he suffered a Jones fracture last year and missed more than half of the regular season, leading to concerns that his body is breaking down after years of wear and tear.
Byard re-established himself as one of the NFL's best safeties last year as he posted five interceptions, 13 passes defended and 80 tackles on his way to landing a Pro Bowl selection and an All-Pro nomination.
Burks, who was selected with the draft pick traded for A.J. Brown, has endured offseason struggles with asthma and conditioning that have put him behind the usual learning curve for rookies.
But free agent acquisition Austin Hooper could be a useful security blanket for Tannehill this year as the tight end looks to rediscover the form that produced back-to-back seasons of 70-plus receptions with the Atlanta Falcons.