The Tennessee Titans don't have one of the nicest schedules, especially when you face the Seahawks and the 49ers back to back. However, the Titans showed enough last season to move up and surprise a lot of people this season.
Jake Locker was injured against the Houston Texans, after missing some games, he came back and didn't look as good as he should.
This offseason, Locker has had shoulder surgery to repair the small damage remaining and he should not be playing under duress.
Towards the end of last season, Dowell Loggains showed he wasn't scared to use Locker the way he should be, in a pistol offense.
Watching Nevada in the NCAA when they had three 1,000-yard rushers, you can see the pistol in full effect, Loggains will revive it in the NFL on the shoulders of both Locker and Johnson.
Draftee Justin Hunter is a player who can fit the pistol style offense; he has the quickness to get past defenders at the second level if they bite on a play action and can help the Titans stretch the field. Offensive coordinator Loggains showed at the end of last season that Locker will be used on a lot of bootleg plays, a way which is suited to Locker's strengths.
Chris Johnson is another player who will strive under this type of offensive management. With defenses not knowing what will come at them, will it be a pass, a QB scramble, a run? This will allow for the Titans to put more points on the board, with an expertly-crafted offensive line this offseason, the Titans have a great chance for success.
When you look at the teams they play this season, most games are winnable. The middle of the schedule before their bye is where the real test will be for the Titans. Back to back physical contests with the Seahawks and 49ers. If the Titans pull a win from either of these matchups, they will make the postseason.
In the first encounter of the season with last year's divisional champions in 2012, Houston, the Titans showed great defense to hold a productive offense to three points over a three quarter period. Unfortunately, a handful of interceptions thrown by Matt Hasselbeck - that were returned for touchdowns in the first quarter - inevitably sank the Titans.
This season, the Titans fare a lot better on paper against their divisional rivals than they did last season. Sen'Derrick Marks is finally off the roster, being replaced by Sammy Lee Hill, a definite upgrade to plug the middle. A refurbished offensive line with top draft talent, Chance Warmack and top free agent guard, Andy Levitre. Houston are beatable and well Jacksonville shouldn't be too hard either. Indianapolis is where the real challenge begins for Tennessee.
If the Titans can beat the Colts both home and away, they win this division. They have the potential to beat the Texans' play-action offense as when they shut down Arian Foster, they almost beat the Texans. An upgraded roster from last season should see them get over the line this time.
The first six matches will define the season for the Titans, the first game of the season is away to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. Last season they defeated the Steelers in extraordinary fashion; they can do so again with the Steelers missing some key components.
The Texans at Reliant Stadium is the next match; this will be the place where they can turn the season on its head -- a win here is crucial and they can pull it off by taking Foster out of the contest and eliminating the play-action game.
The Chargers have long been the Titans' kryptonite -- in 2008, the Chargers ended the Titans' win streak and last season ended their own losing streak against Tennessee. This could be another tricky encounter for the Titans, but home-field advantage will help them get over the line in this one. This is a match that is a double-edged sword, it could go either way.
The New York Jets and the Chiefs follow the Chargers with visits to Nashville, these two matches would be expected wins by most fans of the Sky Blues, who are celebrating their 15th season as the Titans.
The sixth match of the season is away to Seattle. This will be their first, true, physical match. With corners Browner and Sherman sticking Hunter and Britt at the line, it may be up to underneath man Kendall Wright to get the job done for the Titans.
The Seahawks have one of the most impressive rosters and defeating last year's surprise rookie QB, Russell Wilson, will prove difficult. A win here will certainly catapult the Titans into the playoff stratosphere.
Beating the Seahawks, the Titans will most likely be at a level of 4-2 or 5-1 at this stage and will be the surprise side of the season.
The new pistol offense that Dowell Loggains will implement is something Titans' fans can get excited about. They should definitely see more points on the scoreboard than there was last season.