There was a ton of optimism for the Tennessee offense heading into 2019, as both Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry made some fairly decent strides during a 9-7 season in 2018 that saw the Titans almost qualify for a second straight playoff berth. Mariota completed a career high 68.9% of his passes for 2,528 yards and 11 touchdowns while Henry exploded for a career-high 1059 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 16 appearances.
While the Titans season-ending loss to Indianapolis in Week 17 was certainly disappointing, both players still appeared in most pre-season markets for the 2019 NFL MVP award. A notoriously difficult crown for non-quarterbacks to win, Henry was listed at +20000 to take down the MVP – or, in other terms, he was projected to have just a 0.5% shot at winning the award. While Mariota was listed a bit higher at +10000, his likelihood of coming out on top in the MVP race was clearly extremely low as well.
Both players got off to a good start back in Week 1, as Tennessee dismantled Cleveland 43-13 on the road in what appeared to be a statement game for the offense. Mariota threw for almost 250 yards and added three touchdowns while Henry exploded on the ground for 159 total yards and two touchdowns. At the very least, the spotlight was firmly focused on the Titans dynamic duo despite the fact that they were both still extreme longshots to seriously enter the MVP conversation with the likes of Mahomes, Brees, Rodgers, and Brady still way out in front.
The Up-and-Down Season Continues as Mariota Odds and Henry Odds Change Accordingly
Unfortunately for Tennessee, their positive momentum from Week 1 didn’t carry over to two critically important divisional matchups against Indianapolis and Jacksonville in mid-September. The Titans offense struggled to get going against either team, only scoring 24 points over those two games combined. On an individual basis, Mariota threw only one total touchdown pass over eight quarters of action, although Henry did keep his touchdown streak going despite being held to under 100 yards rushing in both outings.
However, a stellar Week 4 performance by both players against the Atlanta Falcons really went a long way to re-establishing overall faith in the offense, as Mariota recorded three touchdown passes while Henry recorded his first 100+ rushing yard performance of the season.
Prior to Week 1, Derrick Henry was +1400 to win the NFL Rushing Crown and his over/under prop bet total for rushing yards was set very close to 1,000 yards at most books. After an above average start to the regular season through the first four weeks, Henry has improved to +10000 to win the MVP award after opening at +20000. He has also shifted upwards to about +1000 to lead the league in rushing.
Marcus Mariota hasn’t fared quite as well, since it appears his lull against both the Colts and Jaguars shifted market sentiment pretty dramatically after a hot start to open the year. While he remains on pace to match his total passing yards from 2018, he has moved slightly ahead of the pace required to hit the over on his season-opening total touchdown prop, which was set at over/under 18.5 total touchdowns. With seven touchdown passes in just four games, Mariota could have an opportunity to set a new career-high if he can find a way to build on his quality performances in Weeks 1 and 4 over the final 75% of the regular season schedule.