Tennessee Titans Schedule 2014: Win-Loss Predictions for Every Game
Mired in mediocrity.
Since their last playoff appearance in 2008, the Titans have won between six and nine games each season. Not good enough for a playoff spot, nor bad enough for a high draft pick.
It's led to a big shakeup in Nashville this year. Head coach Mike Munchak was let go, replaced by Ken Whisenhunt. Running back Chris Johnson was shown the door after six seasons with the team.
So, with the winds of change sweeping through the Music City in 2014, here's a game-by-game look at how the recently released 2014 schedule could play out for the Titans.
Week 1: At Kansas City Chiefs
The Storyline: Thanks for Nothing
The AFC South may have the league's four easiest schedules in 2014, but the schedule-makers really didn't do the Titans any favors.
All five of the Titans' non-division road opponents (and seven of their eight road foes overall) went to the playoffs in either 2012 or 2013.
That includes the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs won only two games two years ago, but the arrival of head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith keyed an 11-win 2013 season that earned the Chiefs a wild-card berth.
The Score: Chiefs 27, Titans 20
The Chiefs were especially successful early in the 2013 season, winning their first nine games.
That win streak was propelled by a pass rush led by linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali which gave quarterbacks all sorts of problems last year.
Then Houston got hurt, and a leaky Chiefs secondary started getting exposed.
Now, Houston is healthy, and the Titans don't have the passing game (yet) to really challenge Kansas City downfield.
Add in the decidedly unfriendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium, and it doesn't look good for the Titans, who fell to the Chiefs 26-17 in Nashville last October.
Week 2: Vs. Dallas Cowboys
The Storyline: Wrong Side of a Shootout
The Dallas Cowboys will travel to LP Field in Week 2, no doubt filled with confidence that they will be victorious. Confidence is something the Cowboys do very well.
Playing defense, on the other hand, is a different story, at least last year.
In 2013, the Cowboys ranked dead last in total defense at over 415 yards a game. Twice during the course of the season, the Dallas defense failed to force a single punt.
Now, entering 2014 the Cowboys defense isn't looking any better, with both end DeMarcus Ware and tackle Jason Hatcher (who led the team in sacks last year) leaving in free agency.
The Score: Cowboys 31, Titans 27
Unfortunately for the Titans, the Cowboys offense enters this year more or less intact.
The Cowboys ranked fifth in the NFL in scoring last year, and in running back DeMarco Murray, wide receiver Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten, quarterback Tony Romo has all sorts of weapons at his disposal.
Too many for the Titans offense to keep up.
Week 3: At Cincinnati Bengals
The Storyline: A Tall Order
In many respects, the Cincinnati Bengals are where the Titans want to be.
Yes, the Bengals still haven't won a playoff game in two decades, but in each of the last three seasons the Bengals advanced to the postseason. In 2013, the Bengals won the AFC North.
This year's incarnation of the team is a virtual carbon copy of last year's squad, but there will be a pair of new coordinators calling the plays, as both Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer accepted head coaching jobs in the offseason.
The Score: Bengals 30, Titans 16
Unfortunately for the Titans, the Bengals are also a very tough out at home. The Bengals are 16-8 at home over that three-year playoff run, and the team didn't lose a game in the regular season at home last year.
All in all, it's just not a good matchup for Tennessee, especially on the road.
Week 4: At Indianapolis Colts
The Storyline: What Else Is On?
It may just be a coincidence, but the Titans' doldrums in the AFC South just so happen to coincide with the opening of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Titans have played the Colts six times in that building.
They have yet to win a game, including falling to the Colts 27-13 in a 2011 game in which Indianapolis quarterback Dan Orlovsky threw for 82 yards.
This does not bode well.
The Score: Colts 27, Titans 13
This just isn't a game that sets up well for the Titans.
Never mind the struggles the Titans have historically had at Lucas Oil Stadium, or the fact that the Colts have won double-digit games and made the playoffs each of the past two years.
The Titans are also completely overhauling their defense, installing a 3-4 under new coordinator Ray Horton.
A switch that big often brings with it growing pains, and Andrew Luck is more than capable of taking full advantage of any defensive lapses.
Week 5: Vs. Cleveland Browns
The Storyline: Horton's Hollering
Ray Horton may have a few issues to work out when the Cleveland Browns visit Nashville in Week 5.
When Ken Whisenhunt was fired by the Arizona Cardinals, Horton (who was then the defensive coordinator) was passed over for the job.
Horton felt disrespected and left the team, joining Rob Chudzinski's staff in Cleveland...where he was let go (along with the entire staff and front office) after only one season.
Now Horton finds himself reunited with Whisenhunt in Tennessee, overseeing a switch to the 3-4 with the Titans.
The Score: Titans 17, Browns 13
Make no mistake, there are going to be some growing pains on that defense this year.
However, if ever there was an afternoon for the Titans defense to "get right," it's this home tilt with the Browns.
Cleveland has posted two winning seasons in 15 years. The Browns haven't ranked in the top half of the NFL in offense since 2007.
The Browns are not a good football team. If the Titans have any illusions about being one, this is a game they have to win.
Week 6: Vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Storyline: Establishing the Run
Over the past six seasons, running back Chris Johnson has been the focal point of not only the Tennessee ground game, but the entire Titans offense.
Now, however, Johnson is gone, signing with the New York Jets after being released earlier this month. The mantle of lead back for the Titans appears set to fall to sixth-year pro Shonn Greene.
Whereas Johnson was known as a home run threat, Greene is very much a grinder. The 28-year-old has two 1,000-yard seasons on his NFL resume, but to this point in his career, Greene has averaged a very so-so 4.1 yards per tote.
The Score: Titans 23, Jaguars 21
Greene isn't anywhere near as explosive as Johnson (even circa 2014), but whether it's Jake Locker, a rookie or (God help us) Charlie Whitehurst, the Titans are going to need to establish some semblance of a ground game in 2014.
Greene and the Titans should enjoy some success in that regard in this Week 6 matchup with a Jaguars defense that ranked 29th in the NFL last year against the run.
Chalk another one up in the win column.
Week 7: At Washington Redskins
The Storyline: Cornerbacks Under Fire
After winning 10 games and the NFC East in 2012, the Washington Redskins entered last year with big hopes.
Those hopes were dashed into a million tiny pieces. The Redskins were an absolute disaster last year, with their franchise savior watching the last three games of a 3-13 train wreck from the bench.
As Griffin tries to recapture the glories of his Rookie of the Year 2012 season, he'll have a shiny new toy in the passing game. After being released by the Philadelphia Eagles, wideout DeSean Jackson didn't have to travel far to find a new home, joining the Eagles' NFC East rivals in the nation's capital.
The Score: Redskins 24, Titans 23
The arrival of Jackson, paired with Pierre Garcon (who led the NFL with 113 receptions in 2013) gives the Redskins one of the NFL's better one-two punches at wide receiver in the league.
That could be a major problem for the Titans. Not only did the team lose cornerback Alterraun Verner in free agency, but after handing his battery mate, Jason McCourty, a big contract the sixth-year pro struggled through one of the worst years of his career in 2013.
The Redskins defense isn't much better, and were this game at LP Field this prediction might well be different.
It isn't, though, and Washington will get behind the Tennessee defense enough for the Redskins to pull out a squeaker.
Week 8: Vs. Houston Texans
The Storyline: Fitzpatrick's Revenge
When the Houston Texans travel to LP Field in Week 8, they'll be bringing a familiar face with them.
After one season (and nine starts) for the Titans last year, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was shown the door by Tennessee, signing shortly thereafter with the Texans.
It's not known whether the starter in Houston will be Fitzpatrick or a rookie, but the Texans have made it clear that they're comfortable going into the season with the 31-year-old as their starter.
The Score: Texans 26, Titans 16
Of course, the Titans have issues of their own under center.
Jake Locker finally topped 60 percent completions in his third NFL season, but for the third straight year Locker also missed substantial time.
Behind Locker? There isn't much.
The Texans may have had the worse season a year ago, but the fact of the matter is that Houston has fewer question marks on both sides of the ball than the Titans.
Houston wins a close one on the road.
Week 9: Bye Week
On one hand, the Week 9 bye is perfect. It's the week off every NFL team covets, smack dab in the middle of the season.
Of course, no team wants to hit that bye with only two wins.
The fact of the matter is, the Titans begin the season with an absolutely brutal September, and it's going to make it hard to start the season with any momentum.
Record at Bye Week: 2-6
Week 10: At Baltimore Ravens
The Storyline: A Big Road Win
The 2013 season was a massive disappointment for the Baltimore Ravens.
Fresh off a win in Super Bowl XLVII, the Ravens lost a number of key contributors, including linebacker Ray Lewis (retirement) and wide receiver Anquan Boldin (trade).
Then the injuries hit, and by the time the dust had settled the Ravens were an 8-8 football team and out of the playoffs altogether.
The Score: Titans 21, Ravens 20
The Ravens, much like their quarterback, can be a tough team to figure out sometimes. Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense can look like worldbeaters one week and then faceplant the next.
It was mostly the latter for running back Ray Rice last year. Rice averaged a miserable 3.1 yards per carry in 2013, and the 27-year-old faces an uncertain future after an offseason incident with the woman who is now his wife in a casino.
The Ravens added wideout Steve Smith in free agency, but the Baltimore offense is a unit that could struggle with consistency again in 2014.
Add in Flacco's tendency to sometimes play down to the level of his opponent, and the stage is set for a Week 10 upset by the Titans coming off the bye.
Week 11: Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Storyline: Being Shown How It's Done
The 3-4 defense is very much en vogue in the NFL today. With the Titans making the move in 2014, three of the four teams in the AFC South now run that defense.
The Titans will get a clinic on how the scheme is run when the Pittsburgh Steelers come to town.
For over a decade defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau's "Blitzburgh" defense has been among the NFL's most consistent.
The Steelers got off to a horrific start last year, but after losing their first four games won eight of 12 to narrowly miss the playoffs.
The Score: Steelers 24, Titans 12
Jake Locker is an athletic young quarterback, but if there's been a knock on him early in his career it's that he doesn't handle being pressured very well.
That's not good news when facing the Steelers.
Not only will the Steelers blitz early and often, but thanks to their zone-blitz scheme those blitzers will come from all sorts of crazy angles.
It's been known to wreak havoc on young quarterbacks, and Locker will be no exception, especially with the Steelers looking for payback for last year's Week 1 loss to the Titans in Pittsburgh.
Week 12: At Philadelphia Eagles
The Storyline: Testing That New Defense
The Philadelphia Eagles continued a decade-long trend in the NFL last year, serving as 2013's example of a team making the quick leap from last place to a division title.
The Eagles won the NFC East on the shoulders of the NFC's top-ranked offense. That offense suffered a big loss in the offseason, however, as the Eagles chose to part ways with leading receiver DeSean Jackson.
The Eagles still have running back LeSean McCoy, who paced the league's top ground game with an NFL-leading 1,607 yards on the ground.
The Score: Eagles 33, Titans 20
Traveling to the City of Brotherly Let's Pelt Santa with Snowballs is going to be a stiff test for Ray Horton's defense, especially since that defense ranked a mediocre 20th in the NFL against the run in 2013.
Of course, the Titans should be able to move the ball, as well. The Eagles were fairly stout against the run in 2013 (10th overall), but no team in the NFL allowed more yardage through the air.
There will be plenty of scoring in this game, but it's unlikely that Tennessee's new-look offense is going to be able to keep up with the high-flying Eagles.
Week 13: At Houston Texans
The Storyline: A Big Test for Jake Locker
On some level, this Week 13 matchup at Reliant Stadium would appear just the sort of road game that Locker "needs" to win in this make-or-break season.
After all, the Texans only won two games last year.
Still, one of those games was against the Titans in Houston, Locker has won only four of his 12 career road starts and it wasn't that long ago that the Texans were the two-time defending AFC South champions.
The Score: Texans 21, Titans 13
This game, and frankly the whole season for these teams, could easily go either way.
A break here and a couple of well-spent draft picks and it's big improvement in 2014. A bad draft or a couple of injuries, and it's another dismal season.
Still, the Texans are at home, they have the better defense and Houston won't have to contend with the likes of defensive end J.J. Watt.
Locker, on the other hand...
Week 14: Vs. New York Giants
The Storyline: Big Apple Upset
The New York Giants and Tennessee Titans sported identical 7-9 records in 2013, but the Titans will likely be the underdogs in this Week 14 showdown.
After all, it's the Giants who sport the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback in Eli Manning. It's the Giants who won one of those Super Bowls as recently as 2012. And it's the Giants who won seven of their last 10 games after starting last year 0-6.
The Score: Titans 27, Giants 24
This is a gut call, but I'm going with an upset by the Titans in this one.
Yes, the Giants have Manning and the team shelled out big money in the offseason to upgrade the secondary.
However, Manning is also a 33-year-old quarterback who has thrown 83 interceptions over the past four seasons.
Last season alone, Manning threw three or more interceptions in a game an eye-popping five times.
This will be one of those games, and short fields on offense will enable the Titans to make the home fans happy.
Week 15: Vs. New York Jets
The Storyline: The Prodigal Son Returns
For the past six seasons, running back Chris Johnson carried the load in the Tennessee backfield. He gained 7,965 yards on the ground over that stretch, second only to Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings.
Now, however, Johnson finds himself in New York, telling Jane McManus of ESPN New York that he's out to "prove the naysayers wrong" after being released by the Titans and signing with the Jets.
The 28-year-old running back wasn't the only big offensive signing for the Jets, who also acquired quarterback Michael Vick and wide receiver Eric Decker in free agency.
The Score: Jets 24, Titans 16
Johnson may not be the back he once was, but 75 percent of Chris Johnson is faster than 85 percent of defensive players, and Johnson has topped 1,000 rushing yards on the ground in each of his six seasons.
A motivated Johnson could mean trouble against the Titans defense. So could Decker against a Tennessee secondary that lost Alterraun Verner in free agency. So can Vick against a Titans defense that was 21st in the NFL in sacks in 2013.
That's a lot of trouble for one week.
Week 16: At Jacksonville Jaguars
The Storyline: A Disappointing Day
There are a lot of similar refrains being echoed across the AFC South.
"Taking the next step" is one that's likely common to both Jacksonville and Tennessee this year.
After all, the Titans weren't that far out of contention at 7-9 a season ago, while the Jaguars played .500 football down the stretch last year after beginning the season 0-8.
The Titans and Jaguars have something else in common. Just like the Titans, the Jaguars bid adieu to their veteran tailback, watching Maurice Jones-Drew depart for Oakland.
The Score: Jaguars 21, Titans 17
The Jaguars replaced Jones-Drew with Toby Gerhart, who could expose a flaw in the Titans defense.
Wesley Woodyard and Zach Brown are both very athletic, but the pair are also on the small side to play inside linebacker in Horton's 3-4 front.
That in turn could lead to problems at the point of attack, a big day for the 231-pound Gerhart and a Jaguars win.
Week 17: Vs. Indianapolis Colts
The Storyline: The Haves and the Have-Nots
Make no mistake, the AFC South is the Indianapolis Colts' division to lose in 2014.
Of course, that's hardly a huge shock. After all, not only did the Colts go 11-5 a season ago (as opposed to 13-35 for the rest of the division), but the Colts are the only team that didn't undergo huge changes in the offseason.
If anything the rich only got richer, with the Colts adding pieces on offense and defense with the arrivals of wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson.
The Score: Colts 28, Titans 19
It would be a huge coup for the Titans to get a win against the Colts at LP Field. The Titans have accomplished that feat only once since the last time they won the division, and that was during the Colts' nightmare season in 2011.
Each of the last two games at LP Field were close affairs, and this one will be as well, but the Colts just have too much firepower in the passing game for a Tennessee secondary that lost Verner in free agency.
Final Record: 4-12
This prediction will no doubt draw the ire of many Titans fans, as it portends the Titans' worst win-loss record since the team went 4-12 in 2005.
Still, a truly "bad" season could be just what the Titans need in the long run.
Tennessee has spent the past five seasons essentially spinning its wheels. No one considered the team any sort of legitimate contender, yet the Titans would win just enough games to keep them away from the top of the NFL draft.
It hasn't gotten the team anywhere. Neither will another 8-8 season.
Given the sea change on defense and the departure of several veterans on offense, it's not hard to envision the Titans taking a step back this season.
And that step back may not be such a terrible thing, especially if it turns out Locker isn't the long-term answer for the team under center.
Gary Davenport is an NFL Analyst at Bleacher Report and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Gary on Twitter @IDPManor.