Tennessee Titans: nfl FUTURES & BETTING ODDS
The Tennessee Titans were born into the AFL as the Houston Oilers in 1960. Owned by Bud Adams, the team was nicknamed the Oilers after Adams’s successful oil business. And immediately after the team’s founding, it would find success.
Led by legendary HOF QB George Blanda, Houston won the first two AFL championships, defeating the Chargers in back-to-back years before losing a chance at a three-peat to the Dallas Texans. Blanda would be released in 1966, and the team would struggle through the end of the ‘60’s and well into the ‘70s, appearing in just two playoff games in fifteen seasons.
Then, in the 1978 draft, Houston selected Texas RB Earl Campbell first overall. Campbell would lead the NFL in rushing for his first three seasons, on his way to a HOF career. The Oilers lost consecutive AFC title games in 1978 & ’79, both to heavily favored Pittsburgh, then a wildcard game to Oakland in 1980. That would be the pinnacle of Campbell’s career – he would never again appear in a playoff game.
Houston would flounder around the bottom of the league for a few seasons, until it won a bidding war for CFL MVP QB Warren Moon. Moon had won five consecutive Grey Cup trophies between 1978-1982, and decided to join the NFL in 1984. Houston signed him largely in part by employing Moon’s old coach from Edmonton, Hugh Campbell. However, Campbell never fully adjusted to the NFL game and lasted less than two seasons.
Campbell was replaced by Houston’s defensive coordinator, Jerry Glanville. Glanville made the necessary tweaks, and Houston went on to qualify for seven straight postseasons, although Glanville only coached the team through three of them. It was Jack Pardee’s team in 1990 & 1991, when Moon led the league in passing for consecutive seasons. From 1990-1993, Moon was buoyed by a dominant offensive line that included HOFers OL Bruce Matthews and OL Mike Munchak, and led the Oilers to a top-3 ranked offense.
But that did not parlay into playoff success, as the Oilers never advanced to an AFC title game. The worst playoff defeat was to the Buffalo Bills in 1992, after the Oilers blew a 35-3 second-half lead. Moon was traded to the Vikings in 1993, after the Oilers went 12-4 but were upset by the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round. Predictably, without their HOF QB, Houston subsequently went 2-14 the following year.
By then, Adams had begun rumblings of moving the team to Tennessee. Oddly enough, Adams announced in 1995 that the team would move to Nashville… in 1998. Predictably, ticket sales plummeted, and the team moved a year earlier than expected. The Oilers played two years without a permanent home – one year in Memphis, one year in Nashville – before moving to Nissan Stadium for the 1999 season.
That same year, the team was rebranded, and the Oilers became the Titans. The team kept a variation of its old color scheme, choosing to add navy blue to the red and sky-blue of the Oilers franchise. For its symbol, Adams chose a depiction of a torch, hearkening back to the gods of Olympus, with three stars inside of it, representing the Tennessee state flag. Officially, a bet on the Houston Oilers had become a bet on the Tennessee Titans.
Immediately after the rebrand, the Tennessee Titans odds of success were lukewarm. Head coach Jeff Fisher had just recorded three consecutive 8-8 seasons. The offense, led by QB Steve McNair and RB Eddie George, was league-average. But the offensive line, still anchored by Matthews, was fantastic, and the defense, with defensive rookie of the year, DE Jevon Kearse, was improving. A bet on the Tennessee Titans would not have been a good look at the beginning of the year, but as the season progressed, the Tennessee Titans odds improved. They finished 13-3, behind a dominant 14-2 Jacksonville Jaguars squad.
In their first playoff game in half a decade, the Titans faced the ghosts of postseasons past, the Buffalo Bills. This time, Tennessee would exact revenge scoring on a kickoff return known as the Music City Miracle. A bet on the Tennessee Titans would pay as the team advanced, 22-15.
Even as the Tennessee Titans odds to advance fell, the team thrived in its underdog role. The Titans would go on to defeat favored Indianapolis and Jacksonville before falling a foot short of the goal line in the Super Bowl, losing to the St. Louis Rams 23-16.
Fisher would go on to coach the team for sixteen years, never again to get back to the Super Bowl. The Titans went 13-3 again the following year, only to lose a divisional round game to Baltimore. They would make the conference championship game two years later, only to fall to the Oakland Raiders. All told, Fisher would compile a .542 winning percentage, making six postseason appearances.
After Fisher’s contract was bought out in 2011, a bet on the Tennessee Titans was not a good idea, as the Tennessee Titans odds to return to glory dipped. It would be almost a decade before Mike Mularkey would lead the team back to the playoffs. They would beat the Tennesee Titans odds and upset the Chiefs in the wildcard round, but subsequently get blown out by New England in the divisional round.
Mularkey left the team that year, however, and the Titans hired former Patriots LB Mike Vrabel as their head coach. Vrabel posted two straight 9-7 seasons in 2018 & 2019, the latter campaign being the most memorable. Even though the Tennessee Titans odds of advancing as the 6th playoff seed in the AFC were low, they shocked perennial powerhouse New England in the wildcard game. Then, a bet on the Tennessee Titans to upset the #1 seeded Ravens would pay handsomely, as the 10-point underdog Titans would post a dominant 28-12 victory. The run would end in Kansas City, however, and a bet on the Tennessee Titans would no longer pay – the eventual-champion Chiefs would prevail, 35-24.
The Titans did follow-up with a successful campaign in 2020, winning the AFC South but falling to Baltimore in the first round of the playoffs. Tennessee went on to improve its offense for 2021 by trading for Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones.