Game-by-Game Predictions for Titans' 2013 Schedule
2012 was a bit of a disappointment for the Titans. But it's never too early to start thinking about next year, right?
While the schedule isn't out yet, the NFL has already released the road and home games each team will see in 2013.
So, how is 2013 looking for the Titans? It's obviously too early to predict with any certainty, but here's a first look.
One of the few teams that was worse than the Titans in 2012 was the Cardinals, and their problems aren't the kind that are easy to fix.
Despite starting hot, the Cardinals ended the season 5-11, lost their head coach, and now find themselves in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. Not a great situation.
They need a left tackle, a pass rusher and a quarterback, and unfortunately for them, the last one will be the toughest to fix this season.
This year's crop of quarterback talent is deep, but lacks any legitimate top prospects. Even if the Cardinals fix their tackle situation by drafting Taylor Lewan, they'll have another year of sub-par quarterback play.
They'll be bad again in 2013, and it looks like a win for the Titans.
At St. Louis Rams
Jeff Fisher hosts his old team, and the Rams will likely be heavy favorites. The Rams finished the season 7-8-1 and have two first-round selections in the draft. They have a franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford, and only need a left tackle, a legitimate No. 1 receiver and some help at linebacker.
There's also the fact that Mike Munchak spent his entire career under Jeff Fisher and Fisher knows everything about him. Then, of course, the Rams also have Cortland Finnegan, who will make life for Jake Locker very tough indeed.
Now depending on how the offseason unfolds, anything could happen, but I expect a loss here.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers were one of the best teams in the NFL this year and last year. They've done so on the backs of their run game and defense, in spite of not having a superstar quarterback.
They're sure to experience some growing pains as Colin Kaepernick likely transitions to his role as their full-time starter, but they're likely here to stay as long as they have Justin Smith, Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis with them.
It's a home game, and those are more likely to lead to upsets, but I don't expect Tennessee to come away with a win here.
At Seattle Seahawks
Ever since Russell Wilson has emerged, the Seahawks have been swarming. They even finished their season with a 42-13 victory over the 49ers.
Pete Carroll seems to be doing everything right over in Seattle, and I don't expect that to change in the next year. The Titans will have a very tough road test here.
With their duo of big corners and Marshawn Lynch looking as unstoppable as ever, I think this ends up as a loss.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers are a familiar opponent to the Titans, and one they haven't fared well against. Since moving to Tennessee, the Titans have never beaten the Chargers.
Next year, however, the Chargers will have a new coach, a quarterback in his twilight years, and a porous offensive line. They can't fix everything wrong with their team in a single season, and despite how badly they beat the Titans, they weren't a much better team overall.
I think next year might be the year that the Titans finally beat the Chargers, sending them back to California with their first-ever loss to the Titans.
At Denver Broncos
When the Indianapolis Colts got rid of Peyton Manning, I was psyched. For one, the Titans didn't have to play him twice a year anymore. For another, I could finally root for a former Vol with no conflicts.
Now, the Titans have to yet again face Manning. Even if he drops off next season as a result of being near the end of his career, the Broncos are a great team all around.
Outside of middle linebacker and defensive tackle, they have a complete defense. They have a good offensive line and a couple of big-play receivers as well. Even with Peyton not at 100 percent, they'll be tough to beat.
Also, there's the elevation. The Titans will lose this one.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have the first overall pick in a year where no one wants it because the quarterback class is garbage. They'll still use the pick to grab whichever quarterback new coach Andy Reid likes the best.
The Chiefs have a lot of problems. Any time you see a team with five Pro Bowlers only win two games, you know there's something really, really wrong over there.
This being a home game makes it a pretty sure thing for the Titans.
At Oakland Raiders
As it stands right now, the Raiders are my favorite to land the 2014 first overall pick. They're a mess. They have an old quarterback, no second-round pick in the draft and an awful cap situation along with a huge problem with player attitudes.
Even if the Raiders have a fantastic offseason, I think the Titans can win this one handily.
At Pittsburgh Steelers
It seems like the Titans have met the Steelers every year for the last decade now (the truth isn't far from that) in what is becoming a bitter rivalry.
This year, neither squad made the playoffs, but it was still a prime-time showdown where the Titans came up with a surprising upset.
With Big Ben and a newer, younger offensive line, the Steelers are always a threat for the playoffs, and this year was the first time they've missed the playoffs in years. Their problem is an aging defense.
However, if there's one thing the Steelers are good at, it's stocking up on talented defensive players. I expect they'll get their defense back in working order next year, and if their offense stays healthy, they'll be back to playoff form.
This one is tough to call, but I'd lean toward the Steelers winning right now.
New York Jets
It's comforting to know that somewhere out there, there are teams in worse shape than Tennessee. The New York Jets are one such team.
Since they signed him to an extension, they're stuck with Sanchez another year. They may draft another quarterback, or they may just go with Greg McElroy for the year, but either way, the quarterback play will be bad.
They also have a defense that produced way less than it should have, given the talent they have on paper, and an offensive line featuring two premier players, then a bunch of holes (other than Matt Slauson, who is now a free agent).
Things will continue to be bad for the Jets in 2013, and I think the Titans will beat them.
Jacksonville Jaguars (Home and Away)
Maurice Jones-Drew will be back, but who knows whether or not he'll be playing at 100 percent. Chad Henne is an improvement over Blaine Gabbert, and he threw what could have been seven interceptions against the Titans if defenders hadn't dropped them.
And again, this year's crop of quarterbacks is awful, so while they'd normally be in a position to pick up a top prospect at No. 2 overall, now they either must make a tremendous reach, or fix their other needs.
I think the Titans beat the Jaguars at home and away next season.
Indianapolis Colts (Home and Away)
The Colts surprised everyone this season. Andrew Luck is already playing like a seasoned veteran, despite the numerous turnovers, and the team rallied around Chuck Pagano in his illness and won twice as many games as most people predicted.
Next year won't be as inspired. The Colts will be back to mediocrity for a year, now that the magic has worn off. Besides, Bruce Arians is likely to get a lot of attention as a head coaching candidate from the teams who haven't already hired a replacement.
I think the Titans end up splitting the series with the Colts next year, winning the home game (like they really did this season) and losing the road test.
Houston Texans (Home and Away)
The Texans started the season looking invincible, but as the year progressed, the chinks in their armor started showing.
Matt Schaub isn't as good as he once was, and the defense isn't the league's best like everyone (myself included) thought it was.
Now don't get me wrong, they still have a great offensive line, the best defensive player in the league in J.J. Watt, and a couple of great running backs, but this is an imperfect team.
Next season, the Titans will keep it much closer than it was last year, and if they have a great draft, they could even sneak in a win. But for now, I'm predicting two losses for 2013.
For those of you keeping track, I have the Titans returning to their roots with an 8-8 record.
I have them picking up wins against the Cardinals, Jets, Colts, Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers and the Jaguars twice.
Now like I said before, free agency hasn't even begun yet, much less the draft. Anything could happen. Maybe Jake Locker makes a big leap in his second year as a starter, or the Titans land a great draft class and head to the playoffs.
Anything could happen, so take everything you see here with a grain of salt, but don't hesitate to tell me what you think of my predictions in the comments section.
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