Why Williamson has Titans 17th

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Many of you saw our initial power rankings of 2009 and wrote me asking for an explanation of Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. placing the Titans at No. 17.

I touched on it Saturday in a mailbag, and have since swapped e-mails with Matt.

So here's his rationale:

Two factors for me against the Titans...their passing game (especially Kerry Collins actually) and the loss of Albert Haynesworth.

I don't know if Haynesworth is going to be a huge success in Washington, but I am sure that he will be drastically missed in Tennessee. I do like their young D-Linemen and I am not taking anything away from the guys who will see action, but no one is like Haynesworth during the past two seasons. He just demands so much attention, is incredibly disruptive in both the run and pass game and makes the other 10 defensive players' job much easier.

So, in turn, I expect the defense to drop off a bit. The running game should be as good as ever and I am a big believer in Chris Johnson and the offensive line, but can they win close, low-scoring games still? Can they grind out victories? I am unsure.

More than ever, defenses are going to make Collins throw -- and that is what worries me. I do think that his group of pass-catchers will be better and there certainly is more potential in that department than in recent seasons. But Collins worries me. This is a guy who has turned the ball over quite a bit over his career and while that wasn't the case last season, if/when he reverts back to his old ways -- this isn't the type of team that can overcome such mistakes. He is going to have to throw more than a dozen touchdowns this year. Maybe I am wrong on Collins and he finally turned the corner in his advanced career, but remember what everyone thought of Collins just one year ago? He was just a guy -- he still might be. I just can't say that I trust him and I don't see the ability to put his team on his shoulders.

Also, the Titans are not going to sneak up on anyone this year and now play a first-place schedule including a brutal opening game in Pittsburgh. Out of the division, Tennessee also plays San Diego and the AFC East, which is no easy chore. Plus, I see Houston and Jacksonville being better teams this year than last.