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Written by: Joseph Yun
The annual rite of spring/summer is finally here! The NFL schedule has been released. While the Titans’ opponents were known for months, it was time to reveal the dates and times that the team will gear up and do battle. The looming specter of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, of course, has the potential to derail even the best-laid plans of mice and men. As more and more state governments are curbing their shelter in place orders and opening back up for business, it remains to be seen what the future looks like for the NFL and the country in general.
The NFL Network and ESPN aired their schedule release shows at 8 PM EDT / 5 PM PDT last Thursday evening with most schedules being released on Twitter at 7:30 PM EDT.
Here are the Titans opponents:
HOME: Bears, Bills, Browns, Lions, Steelers, Colts, Jaguars, and Texans
AWAY: Bengals, Broncos, Packers, Ravens, Vikings, Colts, Jaguars, and Texans
The Titans will look to reignite their resurgent offense under a newish steward (Ryan Tannehill) and the all-powerful Derrick Henry that led them to an AFC championship appearance last season. Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith will also have a bevy of weapons returning such as emerging tight end Jonnu Smith, rookie sensation A.J. Brown, erstwhile Corey Davis, and a standout offensive line. The defense has to retool a bit after losing veteran stalwarts Jurrell Casey, Logan Ryan, and Wesley Woodyard to free agency not to mention their defensive coordinator Dean Pees to a well-deserved retirement.
Can they make noise in a competitive AFC South and wreak havoc among the big boys in the AFC?
Week 1: September 14 @ Denver Broncos 10:10 PM EDT (Monday Night Football)
- The Jurrell Casey Grudge Match. The Titans traded Casey to the Broncos earlier this offseason for a pittance in effectively what was a cost-cutting move. The Titans traveled to Mile High last season as well and it ended Marcus Mariota’s tenure as the starting quarterback, giving rise to Ryan Tannehill. The same loaded Broncos defense returns for a showdown with a motivated Casey in tow. Denver also has an ascendant sophomore QB in Drew Lock and a plethora of athletic weapons. The Titans secondary will get tested early and often right off the bat. Unfortunately, the Broncos’ attack and stingy defense plus the resplendent and majestic fervor of Mile High take down the Titans on the national stage.
Week 2: September 20 vs Jacksonville Jaguars 1 PM
- The Titans need a win after falling flat on national TV plus it's a fierce division rival that tends to split the two games. Derrick Henry loves to run wild against the Jaguars no matter when they play. Tennessee rides Henry to oblivion and thus gets their season back on track.
Week 3: September 27 @ Minnesota Vikings 1 PM
- This matchup is the middle game of a three-match AFC South tour the Vikings get to enjoy after opening the season with the hated Packers so no trap game. Tennessee returns home with a victory after emphasizing that Kirk Cousins won’t “like that” stifling defense. The winner takes all Randy Moss Bowl after notable Titans “legend” Moss declines to choose sides in this fiercely competitive game.
Week 4: October 4 vs Pittsburgh Steelers 1 PM
- Mike Vrabel and Mike Tomlin get set to meet and compare notes against a mutual opponent in the Denver Broncos. The Titans and Steelers have a long and storied tradition together as rivals, including several dramatic playoff games. Whoever wins the right tackle job better be ready for a heavy dose of TJ Watt / Bud Dupree and Cam Heyward on that side. The Titans fail to mark Diontae Johnson while somewhat containing Juju and James Washington. They also fall short against a solid Steelers secondary so lose the game as a result of poor offensive performance.
Week 5: October 11 vs Buffalo Bills 1 PM
- Tennessee hosts a stout Bills defense and inconsistent Josh Allen in what seemingly is an eternal rivalry game. The key matchups will be the interior lines and if the receivers can get open against a tough secondary. This might be a trap game as the Bills host the defending champion Chiefs the following week. The Titans get just enough offense to eke out a victory and still claim that it was indeed a lateral, much to the chagrin of #BillsMafia. Interestingly, the Titans and Bills play each other in Week 5 for the third consecutive season.
Week 6: October 18 vs Houston Texans 1 PM
- Always a fierce rivalry game between two division foes, the Titans get their first look at a Texans squad without star receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Houston still has plenty of speed, however with Will Fuller and Keke Coutee plus a crafty pair of veterans in Randall Cobb + Brandin Cooks. Can the Titans contain star quarterback Deshaun Watson and his bevy of weapons and go pound for pound with a tough defense? Having several former Texans assistants that know Bill O’Brien might help. The key matchup will be the offensive line against the Texans middle that’s without D.J. Reader but still has Zach Cunningham and Benardrick McKinney. Titans win with ball control.
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: November 1 vs Cincinnati Bengals 1 PM
- Joe Burrow and the Bengals make the short trip to Nashville in a game that’s sandwiched between two hated AFC North rivals so the Titans may just out talent them and live to tell the tale. What might be fortuitous for Tennessee is that the Bengals have a bye so Cincy could be looking forward to it before having to play the hated Steelers. Expect a ton of Derrick Henry in this one as the Bengals defense was one of the worst against the run last season.
Week 9: November 8 vs Chicago Bears 1 PM
- The Titans are well-positioned to take the win against whoever the Bears trot out at quarterback and that putrid Bears offense due to the Bears having a potential letdown game. They face the Saints the week prior to this one. One potential worry is the offensive line against a pretty solid defense that includes superstar Khalil Mack, Eddie Goldman, and Danny Trevathan. Where the Titans could have the advantage is their receivers against the Bears corners.
Week 10: November 12 vs Indianapolis Colts 8:20 PM (Thursday Night Football)
- Neither team has the advantage as both teams play the prior Sunday at the same time. The Titans are historically poor against the Colts when it matters so there’s historical precedent if they lose. Tennessee earns the opener between these largely due to its really good home record the past several years playing a factor and a large dose of you know its coming but try to stop it anyway with Henry.
Week 11: November 22 @ Baltimore Ravens 1 PM
- The Ravens will be looking for revenge after last season’s shock playoff loss. The reigning MVP Lamar Jackson has improved every year that he has been in the league plus he has a plethora of weapons. The Titans haven’t had success against the Ravens historically. The last time they played, the Ravens defense teed off on the Titans offensive line for 11 sacks. Can the Titans offense find their way against a monstrous defense? My answer is no. The only hope for the Titans is that the Ravens might get caught looking ahead to their Thanksgiving duel with hated rival Pittsburgh.
Week 12: November 29 @ Indianapolis Colts 1 PM
- The Titans travel to their house of horrors called Lucas Oil and drop this contest to earn a split. Indianapolis seemingly has the Titans’ number at home so that unfortunate tradition continues. Two division games in a span of three weeks is a bit on the too much side.
Week 13: December 6 vs. Cleveland Browns 1 PM
- Somehow the schedule makers have made the Titans the en vogue “trap game” team in the AFC. The Browns are looking for revenge after being humiliated in last season’s opener. The Browns have yet again rebuilt their front office and coaching staff. Cleveland still presents a matchup issue with their offense boasting Odell Beckham, Jr, and Jarvis Landry on the outside along with a full season of the Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt duo. Tight ends Austin Hooper and rookie Harrison Bryant were solid pickups as well. There’s also the grudge match factor with former Titan Jack Conklin. It won’t be a shootout but a defensive struggle in this one. Titans barely sneak in the win at home, spoiling Conklin’s return to Nashville.
Week 14: December 13 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 1 PM
- The Titans get one on the road against a Jaguars squad that’s probably not looking forward to Derrick Henry’s stiff-arming their defense in December.
Week 15: December 19 / 20 Detroit Lions (TBD)
- A battle of two of the most prominent Patriots styled front offices and coaching staffs. They can get together and trade notes about the Titans’ next opponent. The Lions will be coming off a home contest against the Packers so they might be in for a letdown game. Detroit has plenty of defensive assets to give Tennessee a bit of trouble. The Titans have plenty of offensive firepower to make it moot and hand the Lions a loss.
Week 16: December 27 @ Green Bay Packers 8:20 PM (Sunday Night Football)
- Green Bay at Lambeau in December at night with an angry Aaron Rodgers plus a motivated Matt Lafleur just salivating at the chance to stick it to his former employers? Yeah, that’s a loss even if Green Bay has only one capable receiver.
Week 17: January 3 @ Houston Texans 1 PM
- Tennessee has had Week 17 “win and in” situations during the past couple of seasons but this one, they can breathe easy and dispel such thoughts of a win and in scenario by virtue of a 4-1 division record heading into the finale. The only thing they have to do in this situation is win and determine playoff seeding. The Texans may face a tougher road given the current condition of their team so they pull it out at home.
Record: 10-6 AFC South Champions