The Titans will be in control of the AFC South after the first 4 weeks
Heading into a season with high expectations isn’t new for Titans fans – despite whatever their previous season record was. This season, however, the hype is real. The bar is set – at minimum – to playoff football. Anything else will be a bonus.
Below is a week to week look at how the Titans season should look in the first quarter of the season.
Week 1: Oakland Raiders
Previous Opponent: None
Titans Previous Opponent: None
September 10, 2017 – The Titans host the Raiders in what could be an AFC Championship preview. Both are young teams with high expectations. Both lost their QB on Christmas Eve to a fractured leg. Both made upgrades to the offensive side of the ball during the offseason.
Derek Carr is 1-2 in regular season openers. He is 2-0 against the Titans over the last two seasons. Marcus Mariota is 1-1 in regular season openers and is 0-2 against the Raiders.
Mariota and the Titans lost close games to the Raiders, but with more offensive firepower and a home field advantage, I expect the Titans to begin their season with a home win over an AFC powerhouse. But it will be close.
Final: TEN 31 – OAK 28 (TEN 1-0)
Week 2: @Jacksonville Jaguars
Previous Opponent: Houston Texans
Titans Previous Opponent: Oakland Raiders
September 17, 2017 – The Titans return to the scene of the crime.
The last time Mariota was in Jacksonville, he was leaving Everbank Field on a cart. As cool and calm as Mariota is, he may open the game a little rattled. Fortunately, the Jaguars will be beaten up offensively having played division rival Texans the week prior.
Jacksonville will be coming off a Week 1 upset over Houston. They leave Texas making up for the 4th Quarter collapse in Week 15 of the 2016 season. A loss that jeopardized the Titans playoff chances, which ultimately ended at the hands of the Jaguars anyway.
Mariota avenges himself and leaves Everbank Field 2-0. The Titans find themselves atop the AFC South, ahead of both Indianapolis and Houston by one game.
Final: TEN 27-JAX 13 (TEN 2-0)
Week 3: Seattle Seahawks
Previous Opponent: San Francisco 49ers
Titans Previous Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars
September 24, 2017 – Seattle heads to Nashville 1-1 coming fresh off a home win against division rivals. Tennessee will also be coming off a win against a division foe, but may be a little banged up.
This game will be an offensive shootout. Both QBs will have their offenses rolling. Defense will be the difference in this one. Seahawks force a 3 and out late in the 4th, giving their signal caller one more opportunity to steal the game. Although the Titans will win the stat sheet, they will drop this one in a last second field goal thanks to a Russell Wilson game winning drive.
Although this loss stings, the Titans can afford it at this point in the season. They remain on top of the division as the entire AFC South loses in Week 3. Jacksonville loses a close one to the Ravens, Houston is blown out by Tom Brady and his new speedy receiver Brandin Cooks, and Andrew Luck struggles at home against the Browns – a team he’s beaten twice in his career by a total of 5 points.
Browns over Colts will be the upset of Week 3 and the Colts will find themselves on the outside looking in early in the season.
Final: TEN 28-SEA 30 (TEN 2-1)
Week 4: @Houston Texans
Previous Opponent: New England Patriots
Titans Previous Opponent: Seattle Seahawks
October 1, 2017 – The Titans travel to Houston in a must win game against a divisional opponent. A must-win game this early in the season? Yes, mainly because it is a division game. If the Titans want to be taken seriously, they have to prove they are the true division powerhouse.
For Houston, this is also a must win game. A loss could mean a three-way tie with a 1-3 record in the South, creating more distance between them and Tennessee.
This game will also mark the 1st time Mariota meets JJ Watt. The goal for Tennessee should not only be to win the game – but to prevent JJ Watt from “meeting” Mariota. Conklin and Lewan lead the offensive charge against the Texans defensive front.
In short – there will be no Watt “selfies” with Mariota as long as Conk and Lewan have something to say about it.
I expect a few early – and successful – pass plays to newly acquired weapons Corey Davis and Eric Decker to produce points and keep the defense honest. If the Titans can gain a lead early on, anticipate heavy reliance on bruising backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry to help the team hold on and bully their way to a victory at NRG Stadium.
Final: TEN 24– HOU 20 (TEN 3-1)
Following Week 4, the Titans – having defeated two division opponents and losing a close to Super Bowl contender Seahawks, more passengers begin to jump on the bandwagon. National attention may begin to show Tennessee a little bit of love, and possible give the team the respect they earn at the close of the first quarter of the season.
The Titans will travel to Miami to begin the second leg of the NFL season – and will hope to keep their momentum hot and their offensive production balanced.
***I do not claim any credit for the photographs featured above. All credit goes to the respective author(s). All season predictions are based on this author’s opinion only***