The expectations for the Tennessee Titans will be a lot differen heading into 2013 than what they were just one year ago.
With all of the moves that the Titans have made in free agency, it really is a make-or-break season for head coach Mike Munchak.
In other words, the Titans will definitely have their work cut out for them within the AFC South alone.
There will be the challenging games that the Titans are given no chance at winning, but there will also be plenty of winnable games that the Titans will have to capitalize on if they're going to return to the postseason in 2013.
Plenty of intriguing story-lines also lie within the 2013 schedule for Titans fans.
Here are the power rankings for the toughest games on the Titans' 2013 schedule.
The Titans capped an ugly 2012 season by defeating the lowly Jaguars, and their home meeting with them will once again be there best chance on the schedule at getting a victory.
Even though the Titans haven't exactly played well against the Jaguars recently, it's still a team that is going through similar issues.
The Titans know the Jaguars very well, and playing them at home will give them an obvious advantage that should lead to a win.
If the Titans are going to take that next step under head coach Mike Munchak, they have to win these types of games.
With all of the moves that the Titans have made this offseason, this looks to be the one game where you can be most confident that the Titans will get a divisional win.
Johnson rushed for 58 yards against the Chiefs in 2010
These two teams haven't met since 2010, and they're both very different since that meeting at Arrowhead which ended in a 20-point loss for the Titans.
The Chiefs now have Alex Smith at quarterback, but Jamaal Charles will still present the main challenge for the Titans' defense.
If the Titans can contain Charles, then they should be able to handle the Chiefs at home. This is another home game to circle on the calender as the Titans really need to win to jump back into the playoffs.
The only thing that could throw a wrench into the plans of an easy win for the Titans is new head coach Andy Reid and how much he will improve the Chiefs.
Carson Palmer is the new starting quarterback in Arizona and he'll present a stiff challenge to the Titans' secondary.
With all of the attention that was paid to the safety position in free agency, the Titans should be much better at stopping the pass in 2013.
The question will be if Jake Locker will make significant improvement from last season to keep the Titans in high-scoring affairs.
This won't be a walk in the park, but the Titans are the better all-around team so should find a way to win this game at home.
Expect this game to be circled on the calendar for plenty of Titans players as they play their former coach Jeff Fisher.
The Titans and the Rams will renew their mini-rivalry when they meet in the regular season for the first time since 2009, when Chris Johnson rushed for 117 yards.
It's safe to say that this Rams' defense is a lot better with Fisher heading into his second season as head coach.
This will be a fun game to watch with plenty of story-lines, but the Titans should be able to put up a fair amount of points inside the Edward Jones Dome.
Jake Locker should be a lot more comfortable playing indoors and using his feet to make plays.
When scanning through all of the road opponents on the Titans' schedule, this game is probably the most winnable.
Locker threw for 261 yards and 2 TD's last season in Jacksonville
No road game is necessarily an easy road game in the NFL, but heading to Jacksonville shouldn't present a huge challenge for the Titans with all of the work they've done this offseason.
It's unclear who will start at quarterback for the Jags next season, but the revamped Titans' defense should be able to handle them pretty easily.
Maurice Jones-Drew always seems to give the Titans fits, however, and for that simple reason, this will not be an easy win.
If the Titans can manage to steal a valuable road win within the AFC South, then they'll be well on their way to making a playoff push.
You can't win in a much uglier way than how the Titans won against the Jets at LP Field just four months ago.
In fact, some people may say that the Titans did everything they could to give the Jets the game in front of a national audience. It was hard to tell if the Titans' defense played well, or if the Jets' offense was just that bad.
Either way, it should be interesting to see how Shonn Greene runs against his former team, and if the Titans defense can give Mark Sanchez fits again.
You have to give the Titans the upper hand here based on how much they have improved over what the Jets have done this offseason.
With that said, it will still be another low-scoring affair that will come down to the final minutes.
The Titans opened 2010 with a win over the Raiders
The Raiders showed a lot of improvement last season, and some of that had to do with quarterback Carson Palmer.
Instead of Palmer this season, the Raiders will have the largely unproven Matt Flynn at quarterback. We'll have a good idea if he's worth all of the talk that he's gotten since leaving Green Bay.
This should be a game in which Jake Locker has a chance to put up some solid numbers against a weak Raiders' secondary, but it's never easy to get a win in Oakland.
If Flynn ends up being somewhat of a bust, then this should be an easy win for the Titans. However, if Flynn is putting up crazy numbers by this time, then this could be a difficult game to sneak out of with a win.
The Colts had a great 2012 campaign that marked a trip to the playoffs, but the Titans had every opportunity to win both of their matchups with the Colts.
In fact, their two losses came by a combined 10 points, with one of the losses coming in overtime at home.
It will really come down to how well Andrew Luck plays and how much he improves from his rookie season.
One noteworthy point is that Jake Locker didn't play in their first meeting at LP Field and he literally gave the game away in the second meeting on an interception near his own end zone.
Take out that one play and Locker actually had a solid performance against the Colts. If Locker can eliminate some of those costly mistakes, then he'll give the Titans a chance to win at home against a Colts team that figures to battle for another wild-card spot this season.
Johnson was held to just 17 yards against SD
The Titans, who haven't won against the Chargers since 1992 (when they were still the Houston Oilers), were absolutely embarrassed in their meeting last season in Week 2.
Now the Titans will get another crack at the Chargers in a Week 3 matchup at LP Field. Once again, the Titans' secondary will be tested by the arm of Philip Rivers.
Chris Johnson has to show up for this game for the Titans to keep up on the scoreboard, because the Chargers will get their fair share of points.
If the Titans can get an early-season win over the Chargers, it could mean good things for how the rest of the season will play out.
This was another game that Chris Johnson failed to really show up in last season, but the Titans still had a 13-point lead at halftime.
The wheels fell off after that, however, when Jake Locker threw a 3-yard interception that was returned for the easy touchdown.
Those kinds of things can't happen with Locker this season or Ryan Fitzpatrick will eventually get the reins.
It was proven last season that the Titans can still hang with the Colts and that these teams are more evenly matched than some people may think.
The question is if the Titans will learn to erase some of those costly mistakes that they made on so many occasions in 2012.
Even though the Steelers are always a tough matchup, they're still not the team they were just a few seasons ago.
Yes, Ben Roethlisberger will probably still make plenty of great plays in this game, and it's always difficult getting a win in Pittsburgh. The fact that this is the opening game of the regular season gives the Titans an advantage for the simple reason that anything can happen this early in the season.
The Titans could very easily come into Pittsburgh and catch the aging Steelers off guard, but they'll have to play nearly mistake-free to do so. The Steelers still have a formidable defense.
A season-opening win at Pittsburgh will be huge if the Titans can manage to pull it off. Don't be too surprised if they do.
Have the Titans solved their offensive line issues to stop J.J. Watt? That's the real question here.
Watt had a field day against the Titans last season with four sacks, six tackles for loss and two pass deflections.
The challenge isn't just stopping Watt, it's also figuring out a way to keep Matt Schaub from tossing it all over the field like it's backyard football.
Maybe the additions of Bernard Pollard and George Wilson at safety will help that problem.
The tide has turned in this division rivalry as of late, and the Titans might still have a little more improvement to make before they start beating teams like the Texans.
We don't have much to go on recently between these two teams other than a couple preseason meetings.
They did close out the 2009 regular season, which ended in a Titans' win, but Vince Young was the quarterback then. Throw everything from that game out of the window and understand that it will start and end with containing Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson this time.
Wilson unexpectedly took the league by storm last season and deserved just as much praise as that given to Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck.
Seattle is widely regarded as one of the toughest places to play in the NFL, so the Titans will be hard-pressed to pull off the upset.
Avoiding a blowout may be a more realistic expectation for Titans fans, but you never know when Chris Johnson can take over a game. Throw in a few key turnovers at what is still a young quarterback in Wilson, and the Titans could steal an early-season win.
Stranger things have happened, but it will be one of the tougher games on the schedule.
Gore rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown in 2009 against the Titans
This is probably the home game that Titans' season ticket-holders are circling on their calenders.
It's not every year that the 49ers come to LP Field, and Colin Kaepernick has created a lot of buzz around this team that still thrives off its defense.
The fact that this game is at LP Field is really the only reason that you can argue that it's not the toughest game on the Titans' 2013 schedule. It's definitely the most challenging defensive matchup for Locker, however, and it could get ugly before some people reach their seats if Locker hasn't improved from last season.
Fortunately for Locker, the Titans have made some serious improvements to their offensive line to protect him from some of these relentless defenses like that of the 49ers.
A win here in the middle of the season would really get people talking about the Titans once again, but Locker will have to probably have the offensive performance of his young career to make that happen.
The good news is that the Titans will have a very favorable bye week that falls right in the middle of the season.
Matt Schaub probably loves the fact that he gets to play the Titans twice every season. The Titans have to figure out a way to flip the script.
That means improving the pass rush, which they hope to do through the upcoming draft.
Since this game is so early in the season, it wouldn't be the craziest thing to see the Texans let this one slip away. We saw that sort of the thing happen when the Titans stunned the Ravens in Week 2 of 2011, and it could happen again here.
You have to realize that anything can happen in divisional games, but winning in Houston will be one of the more difficult games on this very manageable 2013 schedule for the Titans.
Nate Washington had 92 yards and a TD in 2011 against Broncos
When you look over the Titans' 2013 schedule, you see a schedule that gives the Titans a good chance at making the playoffs if they have improved from all of their activity in free agency.
However, nothing will soften the blow of how virtually impossible it will be to stop the Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Think about how tough it was when the Titans went up to Green Bay this past season, and that could easily happen here as well.
It doesn't necessarily mean that the Titans are destined for a bad season due to this grueling matchup. It just means that the Broncos are that much better, and Peyton Manning knows how to carve up a secondary that plays off the line of scrimmage.
After all, he did that for years against the Titans when he was with the Colts.
Unless the Titans' defense shows a dramatic change leading up to this meeting in early December, then there is no way they hold the Broncos under 30 points.
Can the Titans score more than that in the high altitude? Probably not.
2013 Predicted Record: 8-8 (Miss Playoffs)