Things just couldn’t have gone much better for the Tennessee Titans in the regular season opener against Tampa Bay.
Behind the statistically perfect play of rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Titans dominated the Bucs from start to finish in a convincing 42-14 victory.
So far, so good. But as we all know, one week doesn’t make a season.
For as good as the Titans looked last week against Jameis Winston and company, there’s no guarantee that we’ll see the same type of output when Tennessee heads to Cleveland on Sunday.
The Browns were run off the field by the New York Jets in their first game of the regular season, and for the most part, looked like the same Cleveland Browns team that we’ve seen for many years.
But despite the fact that the Browns have only made the playoffs a single time since returning to the NFL in 1999, that didn’t stop the franchise from coming into Nashville last season and delivering one of the more memorable comebacks in recent memory in the NFL.
With the Titans leading 28-3 just minutes prior to halftime, Cleveland did the unthinkable in rallying for 26 straight points to send the Tennessee faithful home stunned after a 29-28 defeat.
That was how it went for the Titans in 2014. Luckily though, it’s a new year. If the Titans want to prove that they’re for real, they need to win in Cleveland.
Getting revenge on the Browns would be sweet in and of itself. But starting 2-0 with four straight home games on the horizon would be the absolute best case scenario for this team.
And you honestly couldn’t ask for a bigger boost of momentum and confidence for Mariota right now. He’s not going to go out and achieve a perfect passer rating for a second straight week (if he does, let’s go ahead and put him in the Hall of Fame), but Ken Whisenhunt and the rest of the offensive staff have made it clear early on that they are going to put him in a position to succeed.
That doesn’t mean that we all shouldn’t be a little nervous about Mariota’s follow-up. We’ve seen impressive performances by promising quarterbacks over the years, only to see them fail to meet their initial output under center.
However, we’ve never seen anyone do what Mariota did in his first official game. So there’s reason to be a bit more optimistic.
In the NFL, it’s all about taking it one game at a time. Last week is irrelevant at this point. However, that doesn’t mean that the Titans won’t try to replicate what they did well on both sides of the ball.
Right now, the Bucs would have to be considered the worst team in the league. And whether Browns fans like it or not, their team may not be too far behind them.
This isn’t the NCAA where strength of schedule matters. Even though the Bucs and Browns aren’t exactly good, the Titans will take it.
As they say, a win is a win. Especially when a Week 2 win would give the Titans as many wins as they had all of last season.
Whisenhunt’s group should have the advantage on Sunday. Not only is the revenge factor in play, but these two teams are on opposite sides of the spectrum one game into the season.
The Titans need to capitalize on that. If they do, Nashville might just have itself a playoff contender once again.