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NFL betting preview: No. 21, Tennessee Titans

This is the 12th in a series of 32 NFL team betting previews in 32 days leading up to the league’s Sept. 5 season opener. We’ll count down the teams from the lowest season win total to the highest.

The Titans are coming off three consecutive 9-7 seasons, and quarterback Marcus Mariota is in his contract year. But sharp bettors are banking on Tennessee to take a step back this season.

When CG Technology sportsbook opened its NFL season win totals in April, wiseguys bet on the Titans to go under 8½ wins. The number quickly dipped to 8, and the under is a minus 140 favorite at the Westgate sportsbook.

“For Tennessee to win nine games, that seems like a lot,” said Westgate sportsbook manager Ed Salmons, who bet the Titans under 8½.

Tennessee has one of the NFL’s most difficult schedules, starting with its deep AFC South Division, where it will have six games total against the Colts (10), Texans (8½) and Jaguars (8).

The Titans, who open the season at Cleveland (9) and play four of their first six games on the road, also play the Chiefs (10½), Chargers (10) and Saints (10½) as well as the rest of the AFC West and NFC South.

“I do think the Colts, if Andrew Luck is there, and the Texans are both better than the Titans,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “I’m not sold on Mariota at this point. They arguably have one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league in Ryan Tannehill. A good preseason by him and early struggles by Mariota and you could see a quarterback controversy there.”

Mariota is in the final year of his rookie contract and has yet to live up to the expectations that accompanied him as a Heisman Trophy winner and the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft.

After throwing 45 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions in his first two seasons, the oft-injured Mariota threw 24 TDs and 23 interceptions the last two seasons.

The Titans signed slot receiver Adam Humphries to complement wideout Corey Davis. But there are several questions on offense, as three-time Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker attempts to come back from a gruesome ankle injury and running back Derrick Henry tries to prove that his final four games last season (585 yards, seven TDs) weren’t a fluke.

Tennessee added pass rusher Cameron Wake to a unit that was third in the league in scoring defense (18.9 ppg).

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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