After a subpar 6-10 record in 2012, the Tennessee Titans will look to improve in 2013. Through free agency and the draft, the Titans filled needs in the offensive line, defensive line, safety, and wide receiver.
The defense really can not be any worse, after surrendering 471 points (29.4 per game) in 2012. Gregg Williams returns to the NFL from suspension to work alongside coordinator Jerry Gray.
The pass has rush has been anemic since the departures of Kyle Vanden Bosch and Albert Haynesworth. Having to maintain coverage for that extra second has exposed a rather pedestrian group in the secondary. Look for a more aggressive, blitzing style in 2013.
Offensively, the addition of free agent Andy Levitre and 1st rounder Chance Warmack at guard should greatly improve an inconsistent running game. Shonn Greene came over from the Jets and will complement starting running back Chris Johnson.
At wide receiver, Kenny Britt has drawn praise in preseason practices and 2nd round pick Justin Hunter has shown flashes of potential greatness. Ultimately the level of success for this year’s team will rest heavily upon the play of quarterback Jake Locker. Now entering his third season, Locker is the unquestioned starter and has plenty of weapons at his disposal.
Scanning the 2013 schedule, the Titans will face the AFC West and the surging NFC West. Along with AFC South divisional games, the Steelers and Jets round out the slate. Let’s take a quick look at each game:
Game 1: September 8 at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Titans typically play tough against the Steelers. Even the dreadful 2012 team managed a surprising Thursday night win over Pittsburgh. Not many will predict it, but the Titans will pull the upset.
Titans win 31-24
Game 2: September 15 at Houston Texans
After years of mediocrity, the Texans have built a winner. “New” Houston will be too much for “Old” Houston on this day. Check out the J.J. Watt- Chance Warmack battle. This will be the first of many between these two.
Titans lose 17-30
Game 3: September 22 vs. San Diego Chargers
Phillip Rivers and the Chargers have owned the Titans recently. It’s looking questionable as to whether he will have any healthy receivers available by opening week. Fans will see glimpses of CJ2K as the Titans roll.
Titans win 34-14
Game 4: September 29 vs. New York Jets
Mark Sanchez plays for the Jets. Mark Sanchez is bad at football. It will be close, but the Titans will prevail.
Titans win 20-16
Game 5: October 6 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
After suffering through a 2-14 campaign in 2012, the Chiefs will be better. A lot better. The three game home stand ends in disappointment as Alex Smith leads the game-winning drive.
Titans lose 17-21
Game 6: October 13 at Seattle Seahawks
Pete Carroll has turned Seattle into one of the most physical teams in the NFL. This would be a good week for fans in Nashville to take your wife out to lunch or spend some time with the kids. This game will not be pretty.
Titans lose 14-35
Game 7: October 20 vs. San Francisco 49ers
The schedule makers did the Titans no favors with this one. After a brutal week in the Pacific Northwest, the Titans will come out ready to play. This is a game where the leadership of Bernard Pollard will be important. Players last season quit too easily when times were tough. It won’t be a win, but fans will feel better heading into the bye week.
Titans lose 20-21
Game 8: November 3 at St Louis Rams
Jeff Fisher is one of the better coaches in the NFL. He is quickly rebuilding the Rams roster and they will not be a fun opponent for anyone in 2013. A late field goal by Greg Zuerlein wins it. Coach Fisher will savor this one.
Titans lose 21-24
Game 9: November 10 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
When you lose four in a row, Blaine Gabbert is exactly who you want to see. Johnson and Greene both score, Britt makes his fantasy owners happy, and Locker looks like Joe Montana for one day.
Titans win 45-10
Game 10: November 14 vs. Indianapolis Colts
It’s nice to stay home for a short week. It won’t be as easy as the last one, but the defense steps up late in the 4th quarter to seal the victory. Fans party late into the night and call in sick for work on Friday morning. Hey, we all love a three-day weekend.
Titans win 27-24
Game 11: November 24 at Oakland Raiders
The costumes in the Black Hole are a mix of Comic Con and Mad Max. Losing for a decade would make a lot of people want to hide their face. A big day from Chris Johnson against the porous Raiders run defense will be the difference.
Titans win 28-20
Game 12: December 1 at Indianapolis Colts
Eating turkey four consecutive days can make a man tired. Wrestling for electronics at 5 A.M. on Black Friday can make a man grouchy. Relax and have a few cold ones. Luck vs. Locker will be quite a show.
Titans lose 23-27
Game 13: December 8 at Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos will be heading toward a division title and tope seed in the AFC playoffs. The Titans will see that glimmer of playoff hope fade sharply on this day. Peyton Manning and the receiving corps are too much for Tennessee at Mile High.
Titans lose 16-24
Game 14: December 15 vs. Arizona Cardinals
The Titans will be in desperation mode. The running game will put Tennessee in front early and Carson Palmer throws three second-half interceptions in a feeble comeback attempt. Shonn Greene pounds out first downs to maintain possession as the Titans put away the Cards.
Titans win 30-17
Game 15: December 22 at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Seahawks loss will at least be understandable when looking back on the season. Seattle will be a playoff team. Jacksonville will not. This one will really sting for Titans fans. Chad Henne is the hero of the day.
Titans lose 21-22
Game 16: December 29 vs. Houston Texans
With a spot clinched for the playoffs, the Texans will rest key players. Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright will both put in good days. Tennessee avoids a losing record for the season with a win in the finale.
Titans win 34-21
The Tennessee Titans will improve from 6-10 in 2012 to 8-8 in 2013. Close losses to the Chiefs, Rams, and Jaguars will keep the Titans out of the playoffs once again.