6 Must-Watch Matchups on Tennessee Titans' 2014 Schedule

Chad Minton@@chad_mintonCorrespondent IApril 24, 2014

6 Must-Watch Matchups on Tennessee Titans' 2014 Schedule

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    Over the years, the NFL has cleverly learned how to put their stamp on virtually everything it does, and the release of their schedule has become one of them.

    The 2014 NFL schedule has officially been released, with plenty of intriguing matchups to go around. 

    The Tennessee Titans have their fair share of contests that should end up being great games that will make or break Ken Whisenhunt's first seasons as head coach.

    Here are the six must-watch matchups on the Titans' 2014 schedule.

Week 11 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    This has become an annual must-watch matchup for the Titans, and it will be magnified under the bright lights of Monday Night Football in 2014.

    The Titans haven't had the pleasure of playing on Monday Night Football since 2012 in a sloppy win over the New York Jets.

    We'll have a good idea of where the Titans are going when they meet the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11, and you better believe that the Steelers will have this game circled on their calender. 

    The Titans have defeated the Steelers two straight years despite having below-average teams.

    Expect the Steelers to bounce back in 2014 and be chasing another AFC North crown, so the Titans will have to once again pull off an upset in this game. It will be at home, but Steelers fans always travel well.

    You can't look over the Titans schedule without circling the meeting with the Steelers as a pivotal game.

    The Titans get searched on Google less than every other NFL team, with the exception to the Jacksonville Jaguars. If that's going to change anytime soon, they have to starting winning games like this one.

Week 1 at Kansas City Chiefs

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    The opening game of the season is always a must-watch game, no matter who the opponent is.

    Since the Titans open with the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in 2014, this game doesn't need any excuses for being a must-watch game.

    It's very convenient that Dexter McCluster will play his first official game in a Titans uniform against his former team. He'll definitely be pumped up for this game, as if he needed a reason to be.

    If this game is anything like last season's thriller that saw the Titans lose during the late moments of the game, then we're in for another treat to get 2014 kicked off.

    Emotions will be running high to see if Jake Locker can get off to a solid start with so many questions swirling around if he's the right guy to be lining up under center.  This is all assuming the Titans don't draft a quarterback to immediately replace Locker, which I don't expect them to do.

    Starting 0-1 under Ken Whisenhunt is very possible after seeing the Chiefs revealed as the opponent in Week 1. Winning on the road is always a challenge, and it's amplified at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 1. Those fans will be going crazy, and the Titans will be forced to find quick chemistry with a lot of new players.

    If the Titans figure out a way to win this game on the road, then it will be safe to say that this team has a good shot at doing something special in 2014.

Week 2 vs. Dallas Cowboys

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    You absolutely cannot leave off a matchup with the Dallas Cowboys on a list of must-watch games. The Cowboys' dysfunction despite all of their talent is better than what any reality television show can offer.

    The Titans will welcome Tony Romo and the Cowboys to LP Field in Week 2, but Kenny Britt won't be lining up to burn the Cowboys secondary like he did the last time these teams played in 2010.

    This 3-4 defense that the Titans are changing to will be tested in this game against a Cowboys offense that is always capable of putting up 30-plus points. Romo gets a ton of criticism, but he's still a great quarterback.

    There will be plenty of Cowboys fans that flood LP Field for this game, so the Titans will have to play well to keep it from getting out of hand on their own turf. Silencing those fans will be critical to seizing their home-field advantage in the first home game of the season.

    It will also be important that Titans fans show up and represent for their hometown team against such a high-profile opponent.

    The Titans have a great chance here to snatch up some national headlines if they can take down the Cowboys early in the season. Almost every non-Cowboy fan will be cheering the Titans on.

Week 14 vs. New York Giants

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    The Titans and New York Giants don't meet very often, so that alone makes this a fun game to look forward to. They last met in 2010, which was a 29-10 win for the Titans.

    Both teams are very different now, with the exception of Eli Manning still at quarterback for the Giants.

    This will be the first of back-to-back games against teams from New York. The Titans will have a chance to make a statement to fans from that area.

    Don't sleep on the Giants being a much improved team in 2014. This will be another one of those toss-up games on the Titans schedule. It's too tough to call who will be the favorite at this early stage.

    Looking at the schedule now, the Titans are lucky enough to not have to face many elite quarterbacks in 2014, according to Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com.

    However, Manning can transform at any moment into one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Sometimes ferocious pass rushes aren't enough to stop Manning when he gets in one of those lethal zones that we've seen him get in.

    This should be a game to look forward to considering neither of the Mannings come to LP Field very often.

Week 15 vs. New York Jets

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    The Jets are usually an interesting enough draw on their own, but the return of Chris Johnson to LP Field as an opponent makes this probably the most interesting game on the schedule.

    Even though Johnson did a lot of great things in as a member of the Titans, expect a lot of boos from Titans fans when he touches the ball.

    The Jets have a lot of uncertainty at quarterback right now. At this early point, the Titans have to be favored in this game. Since Micheal Vick can never seem to stay healthy, Geno Smith will probably be back at quarterback by this late stage in the season.

    However, the Titans have to make sure of one thing if it isn't a win over an AFC opponent. They have to ensure that Johnson doesn't have one of his occasional games where he goes off and looks like the second coming of Barry Sanders. If they contain him to the average running back that he proved to be with the Titans, then it will be a small victory in itself. 

    With that said, a third straight win over the Jets late in the season would be huge. Chalk this up as a game the Titans will need to take care of business in. 

Week 4 at Indianapolis Colts

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    The first AFC South matchup of 2014 will come at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Indianapolis Colts. It's always fun when Andrew Luck is lining up on the other side, and the Titans' new-look defense should be broken in by this point in Week 4.

    Divisional games are so vital, and the Titans did a terrible job under Mike Munchak at winning these types of games. It will be critical for the Titans to try to steal this division win on the road early on in the season.

    The Colts are still the team to beat in the AFC South, and the Titans are really the only team that has a chance to threaten them. This is a game that could change the outlook of the division race.

    However, Luck keeps getting better. It's hard to believe that Luck could get any better than he's already shown in his short career, but he will be. The Titans have to be prepared to to battle in this game. It will be another hostile environment that will show us how tough the Titans really are under a new coaching regime.

    The Titans will most likely come into this game once again as the underdogs. They'll have to steal this one if they want to set the tone early on 2014.