JOE BIDDLE: Can the Titans win this season?

(Courtesy: Daishawn Hayes)

This question will be answered Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

A high noon kickoff between the Titans and Oakland Raiders will reveal if the Titans were playing possum in their four-game preseason schedule.

A 1-3 preseason record did little to give Titans fans confidence in the number of regular season wins this team can ring up.

Most media outlets predicted the Titans to win the AFC South over Houston. It would be difficult to agree with them, as the Titans’ offense was weak as North Korea leader Kim Jong-un’s haircut.

Exotic smash-mouth was nowhere to be found.  Points were few and far between.

On the other side of the ball the Titans defense was porous in three of the four games. To be frank, they couldn’t have stopped a cold in June.

Heralded rookies were not ready for prime time. Some were injured, others looked lost too often. They will have to adjust to the speed of the game Sunday. It won’t play at preseason speed.

Surely they will not continue to play like they did in the preseason. Will they?

On the other hand, the Raiders were worse than the Titans in preseason. They laid a bagel, 0-4. They were outscored 85-64.

Titans veterans remained confident. Their theme was that once the season started, they would be ready to roll. They knew they were not game planning as if it were a game that counted.

The NFL is difficult to turn a switch off and on. Perhaps the Raiders were singing the same song.

We will see Sunday. Neither team can hide what they are.

Sports Illustrated’s 2017 NFL Preview issue tabbed the Titans to win the AFC South with a 10-6 regular season record. Last season they were 9-7 and missed the playoffs.

The preview issue predicts the Raiders will win the AFC West with a 10-6 record. That would be two less wins than they had last season at 12-4.

SI writer Andy Benoit gives the Raiders the edge in every phase of the game.

Benoit ranked Raiders quarterback Derek Carr with a 10, while he gave Titans QB Marcus Mariota with a 20. He had the Raiders skill position players with a 13 and Tennessee with an18. He gave the Raiders offensive line a strong margin over the Titans by 19-3 and their front seven with a 22-16 grade.

Benoit really wasn’t impressed with the Titans defensive backs with a 29-13 score, giving the Raiders a scorching “weakness,’’ of the team.

The Titans do have a better roster than last season, but too many are young and inexperienced.

How they respond Sunday will see how accurate Benoit is.

Preseason ratings don’t win or lose games. Players and coaches do.

Joe Biddle is a sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at