If the 2019 Tennessee Titans are to make the NFL playoffs, they will do so with their defense. That defense will see a new face at one of its most important positions because of Titans linebacker retirement announcements.
Brian Orakpo announced his retirement shortly after the 2018 season ended. More recently, Derrick Morgan announced the 2018 season was his last on Instagram and Twitter on July 15.
For fans who want to participate in Tennessee sports betting this fall, these announcements have ramifications, but not serious enough that they should affect the Titans’ playoff odds.
What Titans linebacker retirement may mean
Morgan had been one of the best pass-rush options for Tennessee during his nine-year career. He racked up 44.5 sacks, good for sixth on the franchise’s all-time list.
In 106 starts for the Titans, Morgan helped their defense rise to be one of the best in the NFL. Orakpo’s time with Tennessee was similarly productive.
Orakpo played 61 games for the Titans over four seasons, totaling 26 sacks and 124 tackles. In 2018, Tennessee’s squad was third in the league in average points allowed and eighth in total defense.
The biggest loss for the Titans may not be in terms of on-field production, however. Morgan’s and Orakpo’s statistics in the 2018 season dropped off considerably due to injuries.
Linebackers’ value as leaders may have been higher
Morgan was a locker room leader for Tennessee and one of the most vocal critics of the NFL in the league. He openly criticized the league’s lack of social activism and attempt to influence neurological research along with advocating for cannabis research.
His success as an activist overshadowed his performance on the field last season. Due to hampering ankle and shoulder injuries, he missed four starts and only managed one sack with 25 tackles.
Orakpo also missed three starts during the 2018 season due to injuries and similarly only recorded one sack with 18 tackles in 2018. Those facts played parts in the Titans’ decision not to re-sign Morgan after the 2018 season.
Tennessee may miss the locker room presence of both players, but their heir apparent has already shown himself more than capable.
Harold Landry ready to take on more snaps in 2019
Second-year edge rusher Harold Landry started the final three games of the 2019 season. In those three starts, he eclipsed Orakpo’s and Morgan’s quarterback pressure production for the entire season.
Landry will be an assumed starter during Titans training camp. Tennessee augmented its depth at this position in the offseason with free-agent veteran Cameron Wake.
If Landry can continue developing into an elite pass-rusher, the Titans won’t miss Morgan or Orakpo at all. Wake and Landry could give the Titans the only element they lacked defensively in 2018.
A fearsome pass rush would help Tennessee defy expectations and make it a great bet for the 2019 season.
Titans considered a longshot for the playoffs in 2019
The possibility of an improved pass rush makes the Titans more enticing for those who want to participate in sports betting in Tennessee.
FanDuel currently lists odds on the Titans making the playoffs, either as a wild card or the AFC South champion, at +270.
The Titans linebacker retirement announcements shouldn’t affect these odds much, as Tennessee had already moved on by planning to start Landry and signing Wake. If those two players can turn a solid defense into a dangerous one, Tennessee making the playoffs may turn out to be a great bet.