There are high expectations for the Tennessee Titans this coming year following their first winning season since 2011. The Titans were aggressive in the off-season and added a few key additions, including fifth overall pick Corey Davis. But with a second place finish last year, also comes an innately harder schedule. Here’s how the games break down.
Tennessee Titans 2017 Schedule Analysis
First Quarter: vs. Oakland, at Jacksonville, vs. Seattle, at Houston
Ouch. It’s hard to think of a team in the league with a harder way to open the season. Realistically, if the Titans get out of this stretch at 2-2 they should be happy with it. While the Oakland Raiders were 12-4 last year, the Titans played them close in week three last year and could win this time around. While everyone might scoff at the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee has only won there once in the last six years. Don’t expect them to be a contender, but without Gus Bradley there anymore, they should at least look organized enough to compete.
Then, the hard hitting Seattle Seahawks defense comes to Nashville to try to stop DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. This figures to be an old fashioned, hard-hitting game, and one many are looking forward to the most this year. Finally, a trip to Houston, where Tennessee hasn’t won since 2011. The Houston Texans will have their fifth different starting quarterback to open a season in the last five years (Matt Schaub, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, Brock Osweiler and now either Tom Savage or Deshaun Watson). With Lamar Miller and DeMarco Murray leading the different rushing attacks, this should be a slugfest.
Second Quarter: at Miami, vs. Indianapolis, at Cleveland, BYE, vs. Baltimore
Okay, this is much more lenient. Still, none of these teams will be pushovers. The Titans have dominated in their last two trips to Miami, which should give them some confidence. Also, Miami lost defensive coordinator Vance Joseph who left to become the Denver Broncos head coach. Can they contain the Titans running game? If not, Tennessee should have the upper hand. Then, you have the Indianapolis Colts. The Titans have not beaten the Colts since 2011, during the year between Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. This is a must-win game for Tennessee.
While most people will scoff at the Cleveland Browns, they are not going to just lay down for the Titans as they continue to rebuild under Hue Jackson. Finally, after the week off, they take on the Baltimore Ravens. After making the playoffs for Joe Flacco‘s first five years in the league, they have missed it in three of the last four. While the Ravens are not as strong as they once were, they still have a tough defense that keeps them in most games. Going 3-1 in this stretch is certainly attainable, with 4-0 being a little optimistic. At mid-season, Tennessee should be 5-3.
Third Quarter: vs. Cincinnati, at Pittsburgh, at Indianapolis, vs. Houston
This is going to be a tough stretch. The Cincinnati Bengals are a team in a bit of a weird spot. They have a quarterback they can win with in Andy Dalton and a top of the line receiver in A.J. Green. With Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard in the backfield, they have a capable offense. However, their offensive line is young and struggling, and their defense is in transition. They could be a playoff team if things fall into place, but fans shouldn’t get their hopes up. With the 21st ranked run defense last season, I think Tennessee should have a good chance to win. Then, the rebuilt secondary of the Titans goes into Pittsburgh to take on Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and the high-powered Pittsburgh Steelers offense. If they can contain Brown, force a couple turnovers, and get the running game going, the Titans could pull off the upset.
Going to Indianapolis is going to be a huge game for the Titans. The Titans haven’t won there since 2007 when Vince Young was the starter. This will be a tough game, just like the next week, when the Texans come to town. These games are going to be huge in deciding the division race. Much like the first quarter of the season, this is going to be tough, and 2-2 would be nothing to sneeze at.
Fourth Quarter: at Arizona, at San Francisco, vs. L.A. Rams, vs. Jacksonville
To close the season, Tennessee plays three out of conference games in a row, followed by their final divisional game with the Jaguars. The Arizona Cardinals are a bit of an unknown heading into this season. While they do have a talented roster, a lot of their chances are predicated on Carson Palmer having a good season at age 37. Continuing the road trip, the Titans head to the Bay Area to take on a rebuilding San Francisco 49ers squad. Tennessee is clearly the better team as the 49ers are in a rebuild, but as they say; any given Sunday. Especially if your preparation is lacking.
Then the final two home games are ones that, on the surface, should be wins. The Los Angeles Rams come to Tennessee in their first full year post-Jeff Fisher. With Sean McVay at the helm, I certainly think the Rams will be better this year with a fairly talented roster; it all depends on how Jared Goff progresses. Finally, in a game that could have a lot of implications in the AFC South, the Titans host the Jaguars. With something presumably on the line for Tennessee, they’ll certainly be looking for the mental edge. Like the second quarter of the season, 3-1 is a realistic expectation for this stretch, with 4-0 a possibility.
In summary, fans should see a 10-6 season for the Titans in 2017. Watch for them to be right in the thick of the AFC South race. The Texans are very talented on defense (and they get J.J. Watt back) and have stars at running back and receiver. The Colts have a proven franchise quarterback that can carry a team (when healthy) in Andrew Luck. The Jaguars look like they’re are at least a year away, but they could spoil someone’s season. This is undoubtedly going to be one of the most interesting division races in the league this coming year.
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