Why Is The NFL Media In Love With The Titans?

Written By: Conner Pack

Last Monday, USA Today released their team win predictions for the 2017 NFL season, I wrote a quick piece last week giving my thoughts on what I saw. I touched on several teams one being the Titans, but in that piece I talked about whether or not the Titans could go 12-4. Since the win predictions came out, local radio here in Nashville has talked quite a bit about if it is possible or not. They’ve also been talking about why the Titans have been getting so much love from the media. So in this piece I want to give my thoughts on why the media is on board with the Titans.

As many people saw, USA Today had the Tennessee Titans going 12-4 and winning the AFC South. Now the Titans are just one season removed from being the worst team in the NFL, but since about early spring the Tennessee Titans have become the new darlings of the sports/NFL media. After finishing last season with a surprising 9-7 record and putting together another solid off-season, the sports/NFL media have began to take note.

– How The Titans Got To Where They Are

Over the course of last season, the Titans showed improvements each week. Starting with the offensive line, lead by Taylor Lewan, Ben Jones, and Jack Conklin. Week in a week out the offensive line provided great protection for Mariota and created running lanes for Murray and Henry. It was the first time in a very long time that the Titans have had a strong offensive line. Having a good offensive line then led to a great running game. Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry both had tremendous success running the ball last season. Demarco Murray finished the season with 4.4 yards per attempt and Derrick Henry finished with 4.5 yards per attempt. Finally, by having both a good offensive line and a solid rushing attack, quarterback Marcus Mariota went on to have a very successful season. Mariota, finished the season passing for 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns to 9 interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 95.6. All of these factors helped the Titans offense finish eleventh in the league last season. However, the defense was another story.

After what was a successful season in 2016, the Titans and general manager Jon Robinson got right back to work by putting together a solid draft and making a couple big time free agent signings. During free agency the Titans addressed the secondary by signing corner back Logan Ryan and safety Johnathan Cyprien. Last season the Titans secondary was atrocious, I’ll leave it at that. By adding those two guys the secondary should be somewhat improved. During the draft the Titans addressed their other major need… wide receiver. The Titans would draft two wide receivers in the first three rounds, first by taking Corey Davis (Western Michigan) fifth overall. Then in round three, they took Taywan Taylor (Western Kentucky).

Oh, and lets not forget about the Eric Decker signing back in June. Adding Decker, Davis, and Taylor gives some experience and hopefully gives the offense some big play capability.

– Why The NFL Media Is So High On The Titans

All of that leads me to this, the Titans have the intangibles to win. They have the quarterback, they have two dynamic running backs, they have an elite offensive line, they have capable wide receivers, and they have a defense that has the potential to be very good this season. By having all these intangibles in place, by playing in a weak division, and by having a semi friendly schedule is why the Titans are getting so much love. Now they still have to go out and prove it on the field but, because of what the Titans did last year as far as winning nine games and their off-season acquisitions why shouldn’t the media be all in on them?

– Final Thoughts

Overall, the Titans in my opinion are in the best position in the AFC South heading into the 2017 season. If they can take care of business in the division I think it’s quite possible for this team to be as good as the media is hyping them up to be. In Indianapolis we don’t know the health of Andrew Luck, in Houston they named Tom Savage the starter but it’s only a matter of time before rookie Deshaun Watson steps in, and we never know what team will show up in Jacksonville. Now you could question whether or not Marcus Mariota will be able to stay healthy all sixteen games. But that’s really about it.

Finally, growing up a Titans fan it’s hard to buy into the hype. Because for years the Titans have found ways to lose games or put together a great season just to fall apart in the playoffs. For me, I believe in this Titans team. Do I believe they’re a 12-4 team? At the moment I do not. I believe they’re a 9-7 to 11-5 team. Could they make the jump to 12-4? I absolutely believe they could. But realistically I just don’t think they will.

Preds Lock Down Johansen

Written By: Conner Pack

– Agreement Has Been Reached

An agreement has been reached between the Nashville Predators and first line center Ryan Johansen, Johansen’s new contract is an 8-year $64 million deal. This is great news for both the Predators and Johansen. For the Predators, they will have a number one center for years to come and they didn’t have to spend a fortune to resign him. As for Johansen, he got a solid pay-day and he’s on a team that is a Stanley Cup contender.

– Why Locking Down Johansen Is Key

The Predators have a solid core group of guys in P.K. Subban, Fillip Forsberg, Victor Arvidson, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mike Fisher and Mattis Ekholm. Now, you could make an argument that any of these guys is the leader/driving force of the team. However, in my opinion it’s Johansen. Night in and night out this guy lead the team and made everyone around him better, especially during the playoffs. I’m not here to say the other guys aren’t a factor in leading this team, I just think there’s something special about Johansen, his play and attitude is what helped get this team to that next level.

Up until when he got injured and had to miss the rest of the playoffs, it was evident that this Predators team went as Johansen went. Throughout the Predators incredible playoff run Johansen was the driving force; he scored, he created opportunities for his teammates, and his puck handling and passing were off the charts. Locking down Johansen and bringing him back was the best thing the Predators could’ve done.

– Final Thoughts

Whether he came back or not the Predators were still going to be in the playoff mix. But now that he will be back, the Predators won’t just be a playoff contender but they should be favored to make it back to the Stanley Cup Final.

 

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Ryan Johansen

Preds Are Stanley Cup Bound

Written By: Conner Pack

The incredible playoff run continues as the Predators advance to their first ever Stanley Cup Final. Beating the Ducks four games to two in the western conference finals, keeping the dream season alive. This historic run the Predators have been on has been predicated by team hockey and heart. Oh and also, the fans. Which quite frankly might be the most important part. The city of Nashville and the surrounding area have got on board and behind this team. 

As I wrote before, coming into the playoffs the eighth seeded Predators were not favored to make it out of the first round. But they did, sweeping the Blackhawks in round one got the ball rolling for this amazing run. The way they played in that series was incredible. After a long eighty-two game regular season, those four games were probably the best hockey the Predators played all season. From Pekka’s goal keeping, to the great defense they played, to straight up just out skating the Blackhawks. It was great to watch. 

After what was a very up and down rollercoaster of a season, the Predators finally hit their stride once the playoffs started. Clicking and gaining the team chemistry they lacked for the majority of the season. The lack of chemistry during the regular season in large part was due to continuously having guys out due to injury. Because of that they were unable to gel and gain the continuity they have now. The playoff version of Predators is a completely different team. This team playing now is the one many predicted coming into the season would be in the position they’re in now. 

– Final Thoughts 

The team play of this Predators team has been so fun to watch. They’re getting contributions from everyone. You got your big name guys in Forsberg, Johansen, Josi, Subban, and Neal who’ve been good. Along with the big name guys the middle guys have played an even bigger role. Arvidsson, Ellis, Sissons, Ekholm, and Watson have been huge. 

The defense has done great as well. Deflecting and disrupting the passing lanes of their opponents. Also they’ve made Pekka’s life a lot easier by keeping the area close to the net clear. Even though the defense has played well Pekka has been playing out of his mind. He’s had an MVP kind of playoffs. 

With Ryan Johansen out for the remainder of the playoffs it’ll be interesting how the team responds. Obviously in games five and six they won without him. But offensively they lacked his passing and puck handling. In my opinion, other than Pekka, Johansen has been the Predators best player during the playoffs. His play on the ice helped create opportunities for his teammates. 

Finally, the captain Mike Fisher, he missed games five and six of the western conference finals because of a concussion. As of now they are saying he’ll be back and ready for game one on Monday. Let’s hope he is. So far throughout the playoffs he hasn’t done much as far as statistics go. But his presence and the leadership he brings to the team is huge. 

Game one will be Monday night May 29th in either Pittsburgh or Ottawa.