The Tennessee Titans played a brutal schedule in 2012. Of the team's 10 losses, seven came against playoff teams and one was against the Chicago Bears, a 10-6 team that just missed the playoffs and was 7-1 after defeating the Titans.
This year, the Titans don't appear to have nearly as difficult a schedule. Sure, facing the AFC West and NFC West will presents its own set of challenges, but with a third-place schedule, the Titans should be competitive all year long.
Especially if running back Chris Johnson settles into his groove.
There are a few key questions fans will have fresh on their minds all year long: Can Jake Locker finally become a franchise quarterback this season? Will free-agent additions like Andy Levitre, Delanie Walker and Shonn Greene improve the offense? How quickly will top draft picks impact the team?
Those questions will be answered during the season. For now, let's take a look at the full schedule the team will face as it attempts to answer them.
|2013 Tennessee Titans Schedule|
|1||Sept. 8 ||@ Pittsburgh Steelers||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
|2||Sept. 15 ||@ Houston Texans||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
|3||Sept. 22 ||vs. San Diego Chargers||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
|4||Sept. 29||vs. New York Jets||4:05 p.m. ET||CBS|
|5||Oct. 6||vs. Kansas City Chiefs||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
|6||Oct. 13||@ Seattle Seahawks||4:05 p.m. ET||CBS|
|7||Oct. 20||vs. San Francisco 49ers||4:05 p.m. ET||FOX|
|8||Oct. 27||BYE WEEK||N/A||N/A|
|9||Nov. 3||@ St. Louis Rams||1 p.m. ET||CBS
|10||No. 10||vs. Jacksonville Jaguars||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
|11||Nov. 14||vs. Indianapolis Colts||8:25 p.m. ET||NFLN|
|12||Nov. 24||@ Oakland Raiders||4:05 p.m. ET||CBS|
|13||Dec. 1||@ Indianapolis Colts||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
|14||Dec. 8||@ Denver Broncos||4:05 p.m. ET||CBS|
|15||Dec. 15||vs. Arizona Cardinals||1 p.m. ET||FOX|
|16||Dec. 22 ||@ Jacksonville Jaguars||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
|17||Dec. 29 ||vs. Houston Texans||1 p.m. ET||CBS|
Note: For a complete look at Tennessee's 2013 schedule, check out NFL.com.
The Titans have a slate of games that, at least on paper, looks either very difficult or very winnable. It's a schedule of extremes for the most part.
Which team is the most difficult matchup for the Titans?
On one hand, playing the Houston Texans twice, along with matchups against the Denver Broncos (road), San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks (road) will all be major tests, and probably losses, for the Titans. Remember, the Titans have lost three of four against Houston the past two years.
On the other hand, two games against the Jacksonville Jaguars along with contests against the San Diego Chargers, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals at home and Oakland Raiders on the road are all very winnable contests.
Thus, if the Titans are to have any hope at reaching the playoffs, how they fare in four games—two contests against the Indianapolis Colts and road games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and St. Louis Rams, a team I think will make some noise in 2013—will be vital.
The Colts benefited from an easy schedule in 2012 and will struggle to reach the playoffs again, while the Steelers are an aging team that still should compete for a wild-card spot.
The Titans will struggle against elite teams and have the potential to win the majority of games against weaker opponents, so matchups with the Colts, Steelers and Rams will likely determine whether they reach the playoffs or not.
Most Pivotal Matchup
You have to think that facing former coach Jeff Fisher and the Rams will be a game that Titans fans circle on the schedule. Sure, it would probably be more meaningful if the game was at home, but facing a coach that led the team to the playoffs six times and the Super Bowl in the 1999 season will be a big deal.
Plus, the Rams are an improving team, and this game could be the sort of swing contest that will determines whether the Titans make the playoffs or not. It may be a bit ambitious to consider Tennessee a playoff team next year, but the schedule certainly lines up more favorably than last year.
In the end, this will be all about sticking it to the former coach—let's be honest. Fisher is slowly building a strong squad in St. Louis; you better believe the Titans and their fans would like nothing more than to prove they've built the stronger one.