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The Titans were 3-point underdogs against Tampa Bay in week one, and the Over/Under in the game was 41 points.  This translates to a projected a final score of 22-19 in favor of Tampa Bay. Of course, Tennessee scored 42 points, outscoring its projection by a whopping 23 points, tied for the fourth biggest number in all week 1 games since 2002.  In the graph below, I’ve plotted each team’s expected points scored in week 1 on the X-axis, and their actual week 1 score on the Y-axis.

wk 1 pts

What does that mean for the Titans offense? Well, in 2014, the team that outscored its offensive projection the most in week 1 was Minnesota. The Vikings scored 34 points in an upset against the Rams, 14 points more than expected by the Vegas line. But that was not exactly a sign of positive developments to come: Minnesota finished the year ranked 20th in points scored, six spots worse than where the team ranked in 2013.1 Since 2002, the team that outscored its week 1 projection by the largest amount was the 2012 Jets, a season that started with a 48-28 win over Buffalo and ended (for all intents and purposes) with a butt fumble. You may remember that game as the day that Stephen Hill caught two touchdowns passes. That was Hill’s NFL debut, and he has scored exactly two touchdowns since that day.

Okay, so those two examples aren’t very promising. From 2002 to 2014, there were 30 teams that, in week 1, scored at least 14 points more than projected based on the Vegas line. I’ve listed those teams in the table below. On average, they were projected to score 21.2 points, but scored 39.5 points, 18.3 more than expected. The prior season, those teams had an average rank as the 17th highest scoring team, but finished the current season as the 12th highest scoring team, an improvement of about five spots.

TmYearBoxscoreWk 1 Exp PtsWk 1 PtsDiffYr N-1 RkYr N RkDiff
NYJ2012Boxscore2148271328-15
MIA2002Boxscore22.54926.5812-4
SFO2003Boxscore23.54925.51394
KAN2002Boxscore17402316115
BUF2011Boxscore18.254122.75281414
NYG2005Boxscore19.54222.522319
DEN2013Boxscore27.754921.25211
DET2003Boxscore21.254220.7526260
CLE2002Boxscore19392025196
DAL2007Boxscore25.54519.5422
WAS2012Boxscore20.754019.2526422
DEN2008Boxscore21.754119.2521165
BAL2012Boxscore25441912102
DET2007Boxscore18.53617.521165
ATL2012Boxscore22.754017.25770
MIA2005Boxscore173417281612
SDG2002Boxscore1734171420-6
ATL2002Boxscore17.753416.2523518
NYG2007Boxscore1935161114-3
BAL2011Boxscore19.253515.7516124
GNB2011Boxscore26.54215.51019
PHI2009Boxscore233815651
ATL2008Boxscore193415291019
CHI2012Boxscore26.254114.7517161
TEN2010Boxscore23.253814.751617-1
BUF2008Boxscore19.753414.2530237
NWE2007Boxscore23.753814.25716
MIN2014Boxscore2034141420-6
SEA2010Boxscore17311425232
NYJ2002Boxscore23371417152
Avg21.239.518.316.912.24.7

Of course, by scoring 39.5 points in week 1, those teams helped themselves quite a bit in their Year N production. On average, these teams averaged 21.2 points per game in Year N-1, and 24.6 points per game in Year N, but 23.6 points per game in the remaining 15 games in Year N. So the evidence isn’t exactly overwhelmingly positive for Titans fans.

On the other hand, you might have noticed that a few teams saw huge jumps — Washington in 2012, Atlanta in 2008 and 2002, and the Giants in 2005. Those correspond to the rookie seasons of RG3 and Matt Ryan, and the first full season of Eli Manning’s and Michael Vick’s career. So, there is some precedent for believing that a huge first game with a new, young quarterback, could be the sign of a breakout season.

If you are a Titans fan, you might be most interested in sorting the table by the “Yr N-1 Rk” column, and see the other teams that were low-scoring in the prior year. That gets you teams like the ’08 Bills, ’08 Falcons, ’11 Bills, and ’05 Dolphins. Those teams all finished in the 10-23 range in points scored. Given that the Titans haven’t ranked higher than 14th in points scored in 2003, I’d say week 1 was a welcome glimmer of hope regardless of what happens the rest of the way.

But what do you think? Where will Tennessee finish the 2015 season in points scored (which, of course, includes week 1)? Also, take a look at what Neil Paine wrote about the Titans over at 538 yesterday.

  1. Of course, a certain running back was there in week 1, 2014, and all of 2013, and not there in 2014. []
  • sacramento gold miners

    Neil Paine is free to speculate of course, but it’s way to early to suggest a blowout win over a bad Tampa Bay team is a signature win for the Titans. In 2002, there were fans excited about Buffalo’s easy win over New England in the season opener, and how Drew Bledsoe would return the Bills to glory. Instead, Bledsoe struggled, and Buffalo never became the contender some thought.

    I think research would show plenty of misleading results after week one in the NFL.

  • Andrew Healy

    That Jets game is even less informative than a Week 1 usually is b/c 14 of those points came on defense or special teams.

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