Things seemed to be trending up for the Tennessee Titans entering the 2018 season. They had won their first playoff game since 2003, finally hired a coach they seemed confident in and also released new uniforms. While they again had postseason aspirations in 2018, Tennessee fell short in the worst way.

The Titans entered Week 17 at 9-6, setting up a win-or-stay-home situation against their divisional rival Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football in Nashville. It had the potential to be a cornerstone victory for the franchise, but a dark cloud hung over the fanbase before the matchup. Quarterback Marcus Mariota was dealing with a nerve injury that resulted from a stinger, and his status for the big matchup was in question. During an interview with WGFX-FM in Tennessee, Mariota described his injury as one that "basically sent my whole right side numb and tingly," according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Mariota did not play, and backup Blaine Gabbert got the start. The Titans kept the game close throughout, but ultimately fell 33-17, and watched as their rivals celebrated their playoff berth on their home field. 

It was a turning point when it came to the public perception of Mariota. Some thought he should have toughed it out while others are glad he did not risk turning a serious injury into what that could have been career-threatening. At the very least, people started to question his durability, and wonder if Mariota was really the guy Tennessee wanted to make one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the near future. 

Entering 2019, the Titans are facing many of the same questions they have in years past. Is Mariota elite? Can he stay healthy? When are we going to see major improvements in the win column? 

Let's examine five bold Titans predictions for the upcoming season:

1. Marcus Mariota starts all 16 games, puts up career numbers

Let's start with my boldest take: Mariota will start all 16 games for the first time in his career and put up his best numbers yet. 

If you go around Nashville and ask random people on the street about their opinion of the Titans quarterback, you are going to get some very different answers. There are fans who are ready to die for their favorite Hawaiian, and physically fight anyone who hints that he might not be the right signal-caller moving forward. Then, there are others who are seemingly ready to move on, and are not impressed with what they have seen over the past four years. 

Here are the facts. The Titans signed former Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill this offseason. Tennessee is not hosting an open quarterback competition, but general manager Jon Robinson will be damned if he finds himself in a situation like he was in Week 17 of the 2018 season, and a backup quarterback can't get his team into the postseason. Having two capable starting quarterbacks is a good idea for any NFL team, and a must for the Titans. 

Mariota had his best season in 2016, when he passed for 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has passed for just 25 touchdowns combined over the last two seasons, but that will change in 2019. With the pressure to meet expectations and Tannehill right behind him, Mariota will rise to the occasion and pass for 3,500 yards and 20-plus touchdowns. This will get all fans back on board with No. 8. 

2. Derrick Henry doesn't have the breakout season everyone is expecting

After last season, many are expecting the Titans' running back to break even more records in 2019. 

The former Alabama star's coming-out party took place during Thursday Night Football in Week 14 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, when he went off for 238 yards on 17 rushes, and also scored four touchdowns -- becoming the first player in NFL history to record a 200-plus yard and four-touchdown game on fewer than 22 carries. He also became the second player in NFL history to record a 99-yard rushing touchdown, in arguably the most exciting play of the 2018 season. 

Henry had another big game the following week, when he rushed 33 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns in a 17-0 win over the New York Giants. In all, Henry rushed for 1,059 yards and 12 touchdowns, easily his best season as a pro. 

I love Henry, and I think his combination of size and speed goes unnoticed by many, but I don't think he's going to post top-five rushing numbers in 2019. We have yet to see him play like the animal he was in the last four weeks of the season, and he had just five touchdowns in the first 12 games. 

With Mariota finally healthy, I think the Titans will be passing the ball more instead of relying on the run game. Yes, the Titans are going to establish tempo with Henry, but relying on him is a completely different thing. Henry will have a good season, he's just not going pull a Chris Johnson and go for 2,000-plus yards. 

3. Harold Landry registers double-digit sacks 

Former Titans pass-rushers Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan retired this offseason, so it's officially Landry time in Tennessee. 

The Titans' second-round pick in last year's draft only started three games last year, but racked up 44 combined tackles and 4.5 sacks -- pretty impressive numbers for a rookie who was in a reserve role for most of the season. 

Landry understands that all eyes are on him this year, and he's spent the offseason getting bigger and studying some of the NFL's best

"Our coaches did a good job of putting clips of Khalil Mack, Von (Miller), Dee Ford, all these different types of moves that I can start putting into my game on my iPad," Landry said, via The Tennessean. "And me being able to watch them every single day and then go out on the field and work it live with the strength staff that we have here."

He's quick, athletic and once recorded 16.5 sacks in a season during his time at Boston College. Landry records double-digit sacks for a Titans defense that is desperate for some pass rush. 

4. Malcolm Butler rebounds in 2019

The Titans gave the former New England Patriots defensive back a five-year, $61 million deal last March to be their star cornerback, but it didn't exactly work out that way.

From Weeks 1 through 9, Pro Football Focus gave Butler a 53.4 coverage grade to go along with a 141.8 passer rating allowed. He did rebound a bit in the second half of the year, however, as PFF gave Butler an 83.1 coverage grade and his passer rating allowed dropped more than 100 points to just a 40.4. 

Now, with a full year in this defense under his belt, expect Butler to return to form -- the clutch player who sealed the Patriots' Super Bowl XLIX victory with a goal-line interception. 

"It's a new year, a new season and a new me. I'm ready to play," Butler, via "I'm very relaxed. It's not my first rodeo now. I'm relaxed. I know my teammates, I know my coaches and my playbook. I know Nashville and I know hot chicken, so I'm very acquainted."

Butler will record more than 60 tackles and at least five interceptions in 2019. 

5. Titans' playoff hopes come down to Weeks 16-17 

Just because I think the Titans will have a good season does not mean that going 9-7 for the fourth straight year is out of the question. The Houston Texans have a good team, the Indianapolis Colts have a good team and with Nick Foles now in Jacksonville, who knows how good the Jaguars could end up being? The AFC South could be the toughest division in the NFL. 

It's a fine line -- making the playoffs vs. missing the playoffs is a big deal, and as the Titans know, it can come down to just one game. I expect that to happen again due to the competition within the division, and this time, they get in. 

This Titans team will be one of the more intriguing clubs to watch this season. They have the talent on paper to make a postseason run, but everything seemingly hinges on the play of the quarterback. Mariota is more under the microscope than he ever has been. Will he stand out, or should we order our Tannehill jerseys now?