Everyone does it. With the opening game of the regular season upon us, everyone is going to make predictions as to how they think the season will go.
The Tennessee Titans enter the 2015 NFL season with a lot to prove. But will that ultimately translate into more wins for the struggling franchise?
Let’s do the impossible and try to accurately predict the answer to that question by breaking down each quarter of the schedule.
First Quarter – at Tampa Bay, at Cleveland, vs. Indianapolis, vs. Buffalo
On paper, this doesn’t seem all that daunting. The Bucs and Browns are both in rebuilding mode, so although those two games are on the road, the Titans won’t be major underdogs.
And there’s the Colts. This game will have Nissan Stadium rocking more than usual, as the team’s AFC South rival enters with perhaps the best roster in the entire league. While the Titans have made strides, beating the Colts will be difficult.
As for the Bills, they have a shot at competing for a playoff spot. But just like Forrest Gump’s mama said about a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get with a Rex Ryan-coached team.
Splitting these four games seems manageable. And why be pessimistic so early in the year?
Titans Record After 4 Games: 2-2
Second Quarter – vs. Miami, vs. Atlanta, at Houston, at New Orleans
The good news is that the Titans now only need to win one more game to eclipse last season’s debacle. The even better news is that the Titans get the Dolphins and Falcons at home during this stretch.
While Miami and Atlanta should be above average teams, the home field advantage helps the Titans here. By this point, rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota will have settled into his new role and be in complete control of the offense. Winning both may be a tall order, but hey, it’s possible.
But then comes the trips to Houston and New Orleans. The Texans have questions to answer at quarterback, but there’s no doubting the fact that this defense will be elite. The Saints disappointed in 2014, however, the pieces are in place for a return to the postseason.
This stretch of games isn’t easy. Getting the first two at home helps, but 1-3 in these four may be the team’s best bet.
Titans Record After 8 Games: 3-5
Third Quarter – vs. Carolina, at Jacksonville, vs. Oakland, vs. Jacksonville
When did Christmas start in November? This is an absolute gift from the schedule makers.
Three out of these four are at home, and every game will be against a team that had a losing record last season. Sure, Carolina made the playoffs, but they still weren’t very good.
In predicting the AFC South’s breakout team this season, a lot of people think it’ll be Jacksonville. I’m not one of those people. The Jags will be better, but not good enough to sweep the season series.
Get out the eggnog and party like it’s 1999. The Titans now have a winning record and are a playoff contender by sweeping this quarter.
Titans Record After 12 Games: 7-5
Fourth Quarter – at New York Jets, at New England, vs. Houston, at Indianapolis
And welcome back to 2015. Hopefully you had fun in 1999, because things just got real.
Any way you slice it, this part of the schedule is atrocious. The Jets aren’t going to win the Super Bowl, but they will be average or better. The Patriots are the Patriots. And we’ve already covered how good the Texans and Colts will be.
Of course, this part of the schedule is always difficult to predict because of playoff implications. The Colts may – err, will – have the division locked up by Week 17, so maybe they rest their starters and the Titans go all out and win 63-0. The score isn’t likely, but the resting part is.
Listen, I enjoyed party time as much as you did. But unfortunately, the party is over. The Titans go winless in the final four, and the playoffs are out of the picture.
Titans Regular Season Record: 7-9
There you go. Why bother watching this season when you already know the outcome? Kidding, of course.
The Titans should be improved from a season ago, but they are still a year or two away from returning to playoff contention.
But I could be wrong. Because when it comes to preseason predictions, your guess is as good as mine.