Tennessee Titans: 5 Games That Will Determine Their Fate in 2013
Every year you can usually circle a few games on the schedule that will make or break a team's season, and the Tennessee Titans have a few of those in 2013.
This is widely regarded as Mike Munchak's last chance to figure it out as head coach of the Titans.
These five games will be critical as to whether the Titans reach the postseason and Munchak makes it to next season.
Week 1 @ Steelers
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Yes, this is just the first game of the season. If the Titans lose this game, then it won't necessarily be the end of the world. They'll obviously still have 15 more games to do what they have to do.
With that said, this is still a very important game to the psyche of the Titans. The Titans need to get the nasty taste out of their mouth as soon as possible, and winning in Pittsburgh would be the ultimate remedy.
A win over the Steelers would do wonders for the confidence of key rookie players like Chance Warmack and Justin Hunter.
The Titans are catching the Steelers at a good time. Crazy things tend to happen in Week 1, and the Titans could easily catch the Steelers off guard in the first game of the season.
Getting a huge road win over the Steelers could set the tone for the rest of the season for this very different Titans team from last season. It will be a lot easier to completely forget about last season with a win over the Steelers.
Week 3 vs. Chargers
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One way to show everyone that this is a different Titans team is by ending this historic slump against the Chargers.
The Titans haven't defeated the Chargers since the early '90s when they were still in Houston.
This is another game that will have huge playoff implications even at this early stage in the season, because the Chargers will be another one of those 8-10 win teams battling for a wild-card spot.
The Titans have to win the majority of these types of matchups. They didn't do that last season with the exception of that improbable Thursday night win over the Steelers.
It will be hard for the Titans to reach the playoffs by just stockpiling wins over bottom feeders of the AFC. They have to win these games against teams that are in the middle of the pack.
This will an early test for this newly assembled Titans secondary that includes Bernard Pollard.
Pollard has said that the Titans are going to play "smack-you-in-mouth football," according to the Tennessean, and they'll get plenty of chances to do that against the Chargers passing attack.
A new tone will be set if the Titans can exorcise their demons against the Chargers early in the season.
Week 5 vs. Chiefs
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Another early season game that will be pivotal to how far the Titans go in 2013 will be their home meeting with the Chiefs in Week 5.
The Titans will have two very difficult games on the horizon after this very winnable game against the Chiefs, so it will be important to take care of business here and avoid a prolonged losing streak.
They'll need this win against the Chiefs in case things get ugly the following two weeks.
The Chiefs went out and got Alex Smith as their quarterback, but Jamaal Charles will be the guy the Titans will have to contain.
If they can make Smith beat them with his arm, then they stand a great chance to get this win at home.
Week 11 vs. Colts
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Andrew Luck and the Colts are going to be one of the teams that the Titans will be battling with for a playoff spot, so at least splitting the season series will be critical for the Titans' playoff chances.
The Titans have to take care of home-field advantage when the Colts come to town in the middle of the schedule.
Odds are the Titans will be in the midst of a traffic jam for the two AFC wild-card spots by this point, and a win over the Colts will drastically improve their chances at getting one of them.
This will be the first meeting of 2013 between these two teams. It will be interesting to see how the revamped Titans defense gets to Luck as he enters his second season in the NFL.
The Titans had plenty of opportunities to win both matchups last season, so this new roster can definitely win both games this season.
Protecting their home turf will be very important against this division foe.
Week 17 vs. Texans
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It's hard to say if the Texans will already have the AFC South wrapped up heading into this game, or if they'll be playing for the top seed in the playoffs.
As for the Titans, this could very well end up being a home game that could put them into the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
One of the obvious offseason priorities was upgrading the offensive line and finding a neutralizer for J.J. Watt.
This new secondary should also pose a better challenge to Matt Schaub.
The Titans had absolutely no chance against the Texans last season thanks to their issues at offensive line.
The fact that they have addressed that weakness this offseason will put them into a position to make this game mean something as the regular season comes to a close at LP Field.
If the Titans pull off this upset at home, then you can pretty much guarantee them a spot in the postseason.