Here's a look at the first half of the season for the Tennessee Titans and a preview of what to expect the second half:
First-half snapshot with grade: High expectations make this outlook rougher than it may have been a year ago, but that comes with the territory of being a good team. We've seen the highs and lows of a Titans team trying to figure out the ideal mix for establishing their running attack with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, and opening up their stagnant passing game for Marcus Mariota. They have played well on defense, particularly over their last four games. We've got to be careful not to ignore their success and the fact that they're 5-3, tied for the AFC South lead. It's all a part of their roller-coaster season so far.
Midseason MVP: Mariota is always the most irreplaceable Titan, but I'll go with safety Kevin Byard. The Titans lose at Cleveland and maybe even vs. Baltimore if it wasn't for Byard's five interceptions in those games. Byard's seven total takeaways (six interceptions, one fumble recovery) make him the MVP representative for a Titans' secondary that responded well after a rough start to the season and has carried the offense in recent weeks.
Best moment: With the world watching on Monday Night Football, a limited Mariota gutted through a hamstring injury to turn in his best performance, and only 300-yard passing game, of the season and helped the Titans end their 11-game losing streak against the Indianapolis Colts. Tennessee ran for 168 yards, led by Henry's career-high 131 rushing yards. It showed us for the second time this season, the first came in a Week 3 win over Seattle, that this Titans team could be really special.
Worst moment: Football can humble you. And that's what happened to the Titans when they went down to Houston earlier this season and were soundly beaten, 57-14, by the reigning AFC South champs. Mariota also suffered a hamstring injury that day, which showed just how easily every goal could be crushed for this team if Mariota isn't healthy.
Second-half outlook: There's still plenty of optimism around this team, which is in a good position despite playing "C" football through eight games. Getting Mariota, Murray and Corey Davis healthy and in rhythm together should fix some of their offensive inconsistency. The Titans' young defense is playing its best football. The Titans are on pace for a 10-win season, and in good position to win the AFC South, but this team needs to put it all together offensively if they hope to make any noise in January.