The NFL can be an unpredictable league.
Although we typically have some idea of which teams will be elite and which teams will be terrible, things don’t always go according to plan.
However, we can still safely make certain predictions.
For example, the Tennessee Titans went 2-14 last season. Because of that, we can safely say that the Titans winning the Super Bowl this upcoming season isn’t going to happen.
But given how bad last year was, we can also say that the Titans will be much-improved from a talent standpoint.
The question is, will that translate to a much-improved record?
On paper, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t. While the final four games of the season – at New York Jets, at New England, home against Houston, and at Indianapolis – will undoubtedly be the toughest stretch of the year, everything before it is certainly manageable.
With the exception of a Week 3 meeting at Nissan Stadium against the rival Colts, the Titans won’t play a team that won more than nine games for the first 14 weeks of the season. In fact, only three games – two against the Colts and one against the defending champion Patriots – will come against double-digit win teams all season long.
But wait, the stats get better. The Titans will play 10 games this season against teams that did not have a winning record a year ago.
If you’re an NFL coach named Ken Whisenhunt that is desperately looking to make your second season in Nashville much better than your first, you will take that setup every day of the week.
Of course, games aren’t won on paper.
Statistically, things do shape up quite well for this team. There’s no doubt about that. But let’s also keep in mind that the Titans were nowhere near a winning record either last season, and will only play one team – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – that were able to match their abysmal two-win campaign.
With teams like Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Oakland on the schedule, a repeat of last year’s record would be grounds for Whisenhunt’s firing.
Another season like that wouldn’t be acceptable. Not with the added talent on the roster. And certainly not with a schedule that is filled with excellent opportunities for this Tennessee team.
Those five teams alone could give the Titans six wins on the season. Sure, the Bucs have Jameis Winston at quarterback to start their rebuild, but they have a long way to go before being a serious NFC threat once again.
The Browns are, well, the Browns, so you never know from week to week what you’ll be getting with that team. Same goes with the Jaguars.
The Falcons and the Raiders could be two of the most improved teams in the league, but the good news there is that the Titans get both at home.
Six wins from those opponents? Far from impossible.
The Titans also have the luxury of getting good, but not “great” teams at home like Buffalo, Miami, Carolina, and Houston.
So, to come full circle, if this team is at the bottom of the league for a second year in a row, the schedule won’t be the reason why.
With the Marcus Mariota era officially underway at quarterback, a solid group of offensive playmakers at his disposal, and a defense that has a lot of potential, the Titans can win now.
Can they win the Super Bowl? No. Can they win eight games? Absolutely.
It may be hard to convince Titans fans of that reality given how the past two seasons have gone. And for a franchise that has only one winning season under its belt since 2008, there’s good reason to be skeptical.
But for the first time in quite a while, the Titans have hope. Yes, legitimate hope.
Given the unpredictability of the NFL, and the misery that came with the 2014 season, that’s a step in the right direction.