I may be a couple days late on my opinion of the Titans 2013 schedule, but I sure only see it going one of two ways after contemplating it. With Coach Munch and most of his staff's job on the line, along with the future of Locker, the Titans will either be in playoffs, or 5 win season at best. I don't see any 7-9, 8-8, or even 9-7 in this schedule. The main reasoning behind this is the first two games on the road, and the 4 out of 6 games on the road to end the season. The Titans playing both NFC and AFC west, conferences this year could take it's toll on the team, but if they were to win most of the West coast games, you bet their in the playoffs.
One could argue the NFC west has the best teams in football right now. The 49er's came off their great Superbowl run just a tad short, yet they were able to keep the most important parts of their team intact this past off-season, and arguably got better with the addition of Nnamdi Asomugha. The Seattle Seahawks also look very dangerous with the newly added pass-rush in Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Don't sleep on St. Louis either, we all know how Jeff Fisher can turn a team around. They haven't made as big a splash in FA (except Jake Long, sorry Cook isn't a big splash), but with two first round picks in the draft, they could really load up on talent.
In the AFC west the Broncos were just one busted coverage play, in making the AFC championship. With most of their team still intact, and the addition of Wes Welker (that's a scary combo with Peyton), it's easy see why they are the early favorites to win the Super Bowl. I know some of you will laugh at the Chiefs being a tough game this year, but they actually went and got a QB that won't turn over the ball all the time. Plus they've got a plethora of talent on both sides of the ball (Charles, Berry, Bowe, Johnson...). Let's not forget about the pesky Chargers either. No matter how good the Titans are, they seem to have the most trouble with Phillip Rivers every year they play.
To open the season they have to go on the road for the first two weeks, which is a first in a long time. First to Heinz field against the ageing, but still always tough Steelers. Then on to Houston to play the an almost playoff type game against the Texans. If they could come out with at least one of those games being a win, then all is not lost. Now I know 0-2 isn't the end of the season for the Titans, but they can't afford to play from behind this early. If miraculously they were to win both before they come home for a 3 game stand, then you bet they could be the favorites to win the division.
The next 3 games at LP field will be tough, but I don't see how the Titans could lose all three. Say the Titans lose against the Chargers then win against the Jets, and Chiefs (all AFC teams BTW), the Titans could only be 6 more wins to being in the Playoffs. If they lose all three, I wouldn't be surprised if Bud debated firing Munch that early.
The next two games, at least on paper right now, look like the two toughest games for the Titans. They've gotta make their first west coast trip to Seattle, which if you ask anyone who's played their as an opponent they'll tell you its the loudest stadium in the NFL. Then come home to take on the Super Bowl runner-up San Francisco 49ers. If the Titans take one of those games I would be very impressed, let alone ecstatic. They could show that they are actually capable of competing with the elite in the NFL.
The bye week couldn't come at a better time after the 49er's game. They come back on the road against the Fisher Rams. You have no idea how badly I want the Titans to beat Fisher and Rams, granted they could be on fire when we play them. I some how don't see that happening. I mean yes the Rams could win it, but they have no passing weapons on offense and no rushing attack. Their defense is pretty stout, but if they can't get anything going on offense then what's the point if they can't get points? Then the lone prime time game at home Thursday night against the Colts.
That will probably be a code-blue game for one, and also I wanna say the Titans play better under the lights. Last year the only prime-time games the Titans were in were both wins. Yes, one was against the Jets, but still it was a win. The other against the Steelers, who had the Titans number since 2008. So if this year turns into a replica of last year somehow, I expect the Titans to play their best football that game.
It's back to the west coast the next week against Oakland, who are almost as pathetic as the Jaguars in my opinion. I'm not saying I don't respect the black and silver, but until ownership and coaching gets better it won't matter who they draft and how fast they are. They'll still be a bad team. So I see a win hopefully.
The next week the Titans will play the Colts twice in a span of 17 days, which I don't like to be honest. Not sure what the people who scheduled this were thinking. Having two division rivals play in the short time span, devalues the rivalry, but it will be an important and potentially division winner game.
Following the division game the Titans take on a familiar foe in Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Sadly it will be in Denver at Invesco, but I will happily not be around the fair weather Titan fans who'll be wearing a UT Manning jersey (my late friend hated that, and I am going to continue the tradition). I support my NFL team regardless of where someone played in college, sorry SEC fans. If the Titans pull this off, then we could be talking about home field advantage in the playoffs. I know that seems crazy to think that, but if the Titans were to lose both to the 49er's and Seahawks, but still have a manageable winning record, it's plausible.
Luckily the two games before the season finale are against two cellar-dwellers. The Cardinals need more than just Palmer too be good, and Jacksonville is well Jacksonville. The season finale at home, could either be pretty damn sweet or will just be happy the season is over with.
The Texans at home finale, could be a setup of the Titans winning the division. Personally I think the Titans and Colts will fight it out for AFC south supremacy this year. The Texans are starting to look old and vulnerable. With that being said, this could be what Goddell wants, which is division opponents fighting it out for the AFC south supremacy and a playoff spot.
With all the optimism in the world for this upcoming season, and like I said earlier I don't see an 8-8 record. I either see playoffs and even a bye, or will be looking for a new HC and looking at Andy Murray, A.J. MacCarron or Johnny Football to be the new QB.
I'm gonna go the optimistic route and say 11-5, mainly because Munch, Locker, and most of the coaching staff are going to be playing for their jobs.