(image credit: Steve Roberts / USA Today Sports)
Written by: Joseph Yun
The annual #NFLScheduleRelease holiday was a bit delayed this year but it was a fun event nonetheless. There’s a lot of high quality matchups sprinkled in through the season to whet the appetite for even the most ravenous of football fans. While the Titans opponents were known for months, the times and dates were largely unknown until a few weeks ago.
The NFL successfully navigated through the bulk of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic in 2020 and has targeted multiple municipalities with 100% or close to 100% fan attendance this fall. Even with vaccinations on the rise in this nation, there’s always the looming specter of just one positive test derailing the whole operation. Will the league get through another season in this “new normal” society with minimal hiccups?
HOME: Bills, Cardinals, Chiefs, Colts, Dolphins, 49ers, Jaguars, Saints, Texans
AWAY: Colts, Jets, Jaguars, Rams, Patriots, Steelers, Texans
Week 1: September 12 vs. Arizona Cardinals 1 PM
- The Titans host a few old friends like JJ Watt, DeAndre Hopkins, and former Titans star Malcolm Butler when the high flying Cardinals come into Nashville. Hopkins, AJ Green, and greenhorn Rondale Moore will be a stiff test for a newly revamped secondary while the tackle spots will bear watching against the ageless Chandler Jones and Watt. Rookie Elijah Molden can chop it up with fellow Huskies alums Byron Murphy and Budda Baker as well. Head Coach Mike Vrabel is 2-1 in season openers so there’s that. Unfortunately for the Titans' defense, the Cardinals have too many weapons for rising star QB Kyler Murray and they lose in a close contest. The Titans' offense will need some time to gel with a ton of production gone elsewhere.
Week 2: September 19 @ Seattle Seahawks 4:25 PM
- The Titans travel to Seattle to do their part in the much hyped battle between two former Ole Miss star wideouts. Can Derrick Henry play keep away from the all world Russell Wilson and his offensive colleagues? Tennessee is an all-time 0-7 against Seattle on the road so they would be bucking a lot of history if they do hang on and win. There’s no inherent schedule advantage for Tennessee either as the Seahawks have Minnesota next and the Colts in Week 1. Titans begin the campaign on a 0-2 note.
Week 3: September 26 vs. Indianapolis Colts 1 PM
- The first of two critical likely AFC South deciders is a home game for the Titans. The schedule gods were relatively kind to Tennessee as Indianapolis will have to prepare for two vastly different offensive mindsets in back to back weeks. The Colts host the high powered Rams offensive mind of Sean McVay before visiting Nashville. A reunion for former Colts defensive lineman Denico Autry so you know he’ll be motivated to play well. Tennessee gets their first look at Carson Wentz in a Colts uniform too. Indy may be peeking ahead to trendy AFC East pick Miami the following week but division games are always spicy. The Titans manage to sneak one out riding the powerful Derrick Henry against a stout defensive front.
Week 4: October 3 @ New York Jets 1 PM
- The Titans get another schedule break as the Jets host before having to, well, jet off to London the following week. Another scheduling faux pas: NYJ has to travel to Denver the week before so they might be a little fatigued from the infamous mile high altitude. Former Tennessee receiver Corey Davis gets to face his old friends in this contest so it will be bittersweet for him. The Titans get their first look at rookie first round quarterback Zach Wilson to boot. New York has a stout left side of the offensive line, so the right side can be had by Harold Landry, Bud Dupree, and co. Defensively, Carl Lawson and rising star Quinnen Williams will be a handful for a solid Titans offensive front. It will be interesting to see who gets the Davis assignment in the Titans secondary along with covering Elijah Moore the rookie. Tennessee uses the schedule breaks to their advantage and pounds away with Henry for the win.
Week 5: October 10 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 1 PM
- Derrick Henry gets to visit his “children” in sunny Jacksonville and return to some home cooking. And not to mention, Tennessee gets their first look at this Trevor Lawrence fellow. I heard he is quite good at football. Will Timothy Tebow on the roster at this point? Urban Meyer gets his first taste against a real AFC South opponent in this one. Also, another schedule break for Tennessee as the Jags have their annual London trip for the following week against instate rival Miami. One disadvantage for the Titans is that Jacksonville has 10 days to prepare after a Thursday date with Cincinnati the week prior. Stop me if you heard this before but Henry stiff arms another Jaguars defender into oblivion on the way to victory. Tennessee climbs out of its early hole and is above .500 with this win.
Week 6: October 18 vs. Buffalo Bills 8:15 PM (MNF)
- We return to the scene of the crime where poor Josh Norman was duly eviscerated into meme oblivion by one Mr. Henry last season. There is a slight schedule advantage for the Titans as the Bills will travel to rowdy Arrowhead to take on the almighty Chiefs the week prior. However, Buffalo had a great team that was the latest opponent for the reigning AFC champions to battle in the AFC title match. That team returns largely intact with rising star Josh Allen leading the way. Interestingly, this is the second year in a row where the Bills have to face the Chiefs and Titans in back to back weeks in some order. Can the Titans secondary match up against a powerful wide receiver corps led by Stefon Diggs? Will Ryan Tannehill make it work with a limited set of weapons against a stout Bills secondary? Buffalo will be out for revenge for last year as well. #BillsMafia gets the win in Nashville and keeps on arguing about the Music City Miracle while breaking tables. The two teams exchange notes on how to keep it close against the Titans’ next opponent at the end. Tennessee falls to .500 with the loss in prime time.
Week 7: October 24 vs. Kansas City Chiefs 1 PM
- Unfortunately, the Titans have no answers yet again for the Kansas City machine even after Buffalo hands them a cheat sheet. The Chiefs walk into Nissan Stadium and run away with the contest. Tennessee gets no schedule related breaks as KC plays a fierce WFT defense the week prior and faces a hapless Giants team the following week. A long day for Tennessee on both sides of the ball awaits. The Chiefs are the current embodiment of legendary Purdue coach Joe Tiller’s basketball on grass philosophy. They fall below .500 with the loss.
Week 8: October 31 @ Indianapolis Colts 1 PM
- Happy Halloween! Unfortunately, the Titans go to their own house of horrors and get no treats as they split the series with hated rivals Indianapolis with a loss. No schedule breaks either as the Colts travel to an intriguing 49ers squad the week prior and a rebuilding Jets team the following week. It gets tenuous and frosty for a bit for Mike Vrabel’s troops after a three game losing streak.
Week 9: November 7 @ Los Angeles Rams 8:20 PM (SNF)
- The fearsome beast that is Aaron Donald awaits the Titans when they touch down in the City of Angels. A slight scheduling break for Tennessee as the Rams have to travel to the Jean Palace to take on instate rival San Francisco the following week. LAR should be much improved under center with Matthew Stafford capable of running the offense without governors, unlike his predecessor. Could this be a preview of a potential matchup in the same building in February? Another storyline is that former Rams receiver Josh Reynolds gets to have a reunion of sorts with old friends. Can the Titans stop the powerful Rams offense with a secondary filled with question marks? Tennessee sneaks out of Inglewood with a win going for score for score with the fighting genius of Sean McVay.
Week 10: November 14 vs. New Orleans Saints 1 PM
- The Titans catch the Saints at the tail end of a critical five game stretch where they play several playoff teams and the defending Super Bowl champs. Which QB will have the opportunity to face Tennessee as the starter? It could be a revenge game for one Jameis Winston as he was repeatedly humiliated by the Titans during his Tampa tenure. A reunion for Tennessee cornerback Janoris Jenkins as well. Tennessee owes the Saints some revenge after a horrendous officiating effort robbed the Titans of a win two years ago. The home team gets a win over the powerful Saints offense and gets to .500.
Week 11: November 21 vs. Houston Texans 1 PM
- Will star quarterback Deshaun Watson be on the field much less be on the team at this point in the season? Regardless, the Texans are a franchise in transition to put it mildly. It will be a long 2021 for the hapless organization. Tennessee wins this going away but it is a division rivalry game so anything can happen. Titans sneak into above .500 with the win. They must be careful to not look too far ahead.
Week 12: November 28 @ New England 1 PM
- The Patriots host the Titans for the first time since Tennessee ended the Brady and Belichick partnership in Foxboro. Much has changed since that time but the wizard himself remains to shepherd his new charges. Of course, the bloodlines that these two teams share are immeasurable. Can the star pupil beat the master again? Which QB will the Titans see in this one, a rejuvenated Cam Newton or the new guy, Mac Jones? Schedule wise, Tennessee gets a slight break as New England has to travel the following week to Buffalo. However, the Patriots still have a dangerous team and have a coach willing to abuse the gray areas of the rulebook to get a win so the Titans must be careful. Tennessee and Mike Vrabel leave the Commonwealth with a victory, leaving Belichick fuming in his postgame presser.
Week 13: BYE
Week 14: December 12 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars 1 PM
- A return engagement for the Jaguars in the month of December. Well, it might get a little frosty for one Urban Meyer if he can’t manage to sneak some wins against hated division rivals. The schedule break for the Titans is a big one as the Jags have to travel to the left coast to take on the Rams the week prior. Tennessee manages to salt this one away using Mr. Henry’s talents and aren’t caught looking too far ahead.
Week 15: December 19 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 1 PM
- The horror show in the Steel City continues for the denizens of Nashville. The Titans have lost three straight to Pittsburgh including a sad noncompetitive effort in 2017 at The Big Ketchup Palace. The one big break is that the schedule plays out relatively well for Tennessee. They are the opening leg for a brutal close for the Steelers that features @ KC, Home vs Cleveland, and @ Baltimore. Sadly, the Titans can’t even catch that break and fall victim to yet another Steelers victory in this heated rivalry.
Week 16: December 23 vs. San Francisco 49ers 8:20 PM (TNF)
- An offshoot branch of the famed Shanahan offense meets the originator when the 49ers visit Nashville right before the Christmas holiday. Will it be Jimmy Garoppolo or rookie Trey Lance be the man under center at this point in the season? The Titans do owe San Francisco some measure of payback as the 49ers own a two game winning streak. Santa Claus delivers a win for the home team on Thursday night after a back and forth battle between two defenses.
Week 17: January 2 vs. Miami Dolphins 1 PM
- Another advantageous situation for Tennessee as the Fish face a gauntlet of New Orleans on the road the week prior and the Patriots at home the following week. The Titans will get their first look at the Alabama duo of Tua Tagovailoa and the speedy Jaylen Waddle. Not to mention a Brian Flores led stout defense led by star cornerback Xavien Howard. Former Titans legend Jason McCourty also plays for Miami so a heartfelt reunion is in store. Hopefully, both sides don’t take in the New Year’s Day holiday festivities and we get a good game. Tennessee ultimately gets the win at Nissan Stadium. Miami owns a two game win streak over the Titans including that incredible seven hour lightning delayed marathon two years ago.
Week 18: January 9 @ Houston Texans 1 PM
- Final regular season against hated rival Houston who’s likely set for the golf course the following week? Say no more, fam. Derrick Henry went off in the season finale last season in a 41-38 thriller that clinched the AFC South title. It will be a fun game that’s for sure. The division will likely come down to this game AGAIN as Mike Vrabel somehow loves to leave it late.
AFC South Champions