After an improbable run to the AFC Championship game in 2019, expectations are heightened for the Tennessee Titans. Head coach Mike Vrabel has his eyes on more than the AFC South title. This offseason General manager Jon Robinson decided to place the franchise tag on running back Derrick Henry and signed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to an extension. With sports finally starting to be reintroduced into society, Last Word on Pro Football is breaking down the schedules of all 32 NFL teams. This series will consist of the most difficult (1-8) and easiest (9-16) games among each team’s 16-game slate. The focus for this article is the Tennessee Titans easiest games on the 2020 schedule.
Tennessee Titans Easiest Games in 2020
9. Week 4: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Titans have the slightest upper-hand in this slugfest between two blue collar AFC teams because the game will be played in Nashville. Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin will have his crew focused and in search of a road victory. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger seeks redemption after an injury-shortened 2019. Additionally, he will have a full complement of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball that are sure to create mismatches.
Defensively, the Steelers are still in the process of getting back to an elite level. The Titans offense will have an opportunity to be creative and take advantage of the Steelers vulnerability to over-pursue. As with most games, expect a steady diet of Henry from the Titans. While this game will not be full of offensive highlights, it will not lack in excitement and could come down to a late field goal.
10. Week 5: vs. Buffalo Bills
The week five game against the Buffalo Bills is sandwiched between tough AFC opponents and should not be overlooked by the Titans. The Bills are predicted to challenge for the AFC East crown for the first time in decades. After leading the Bills to their first 10 win season and a playoff berth in 2019, Bills head coach Sean McDermott has his team aiming even higher.
The Bills defense upgraded this offseason with the additions of edge rusher Mario Addison and interior lineman Quinton Jefferson via free agency. They also bolstered the defensive edge in the draft with A.J. Epenesa. This is a solid defense that can hold its own against the Titans rushing attack, therefore leaving pressure on Tannehill to attack downfield.
Offensively, the Bills made a splash by signing wide receiver Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings. In his third year, Bills quarterback Josh Allen no longer has the excuse for lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball. The Titans defense has the potential to lure Allen into making mistakes and coming out on top in week five.
11. Week 13: vs. Cleveland Browns
There is a possibility of both teams being in the playoff hunt entering this week 13 tilt in Nashville. On paper, the Cleveland Browns have elite offensive talent. Running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt set the pace for the Browns offense on the ground, therefore opening up opportunities for All-Pro receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. to have their way against the Titans secondary. Without pressure from the Titans front seven, this has potential to be a nightmare for the Titans.
Offensively, this could be a week for Derrick Henry to impose his will at the line of scrimmage. In 2019, the Browns yielded five yards a carry, which ranked near the bottom of the league. With Henry grinding out yards between the tackles, opportunities are sure to arise for wide receiver A.J. Brown downfield. To clarify, this game has potential to be high-scoring and could be decided by a late mistake by either team.
12. Week 9: vs. Chicago Bears
Warning! Possible trap game. This week, the Titans need to avoid looking ahead to a divisional showdown with the Indianapolis Colts in Week 10, which is easier said than done. The Titans need to take it one game at a time and cannot look past the Chicago Bears. Third-year head coach Mike Vrabel will need to keep the Titans focused all week.
New offensive coordinator Arthur Smith will look to navigate the Titans offense against a group of talented linebackers led by Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith. In order to be effective, the Titans offensive line will need to initiate the push at the line of scrimmage.
Meanwhile, the defense will need to capitalize on mistakes by Bears quarterbacks, whether that is Nick Foles or Mitch Trubisky. The Titans defense needs to confuse the quarterback and attack from all angles. Therefore any pressure will certainly help the secondary against the Bears star wide receiver Allen Robinson II.
13. Week 14: at Jacksonville Jaguars
A late season trip to Jacksonville could be just what the Titans need to prepare for their playoff push. Recently Henry has been a one-man wrecking crew against the Jacksonville Jaguars and he likes to perform in front of his former hometown. Predicting the Jaguars mindset in week 14 of the season is near impossible. Will they be tanking for the first pick in the 2021 draft? Possibly. However, the Jaguars consider the Titans as their most bitter rivals and will look for the upset opportunity.
Tennessee needs to stick with their bread and butter and pound Henry between the tackles. The Jaguars defensive interior has been depleted by trades and free agency. The offensive line will open holes for the running game and help extend drives with third-down conversions. Also, this is a prime opportunity for Titans tight end Jonnu Smith to find separation within the middle of the secondary.
14. Week 15: vs. Detroit Lions
With their eyes on a postseason berth, the Titans host the Detroit Lions in week 15. However, the Lions have geared up offensively with the addition of rookie running back D’Andre Swift. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is a gunslinger and can help the Lions keep pace by utilizing wide receiver Kenny Golladay. The matchup with Golladay is an opportunity to see if Titans rookie cornerback Kristian Fulton is ready for the big stage.
Defensively, the Lions lack star-power and will struggle to slow down Henry and Tennessee’s downhill rushing attack. Especially if the Titans are eyeing a chance at the postseason. As a result, ball control and ball security will be critical for the Titans in this match-up.
15. Week 8: at Cincinnati Bengals
Tennessee draws a favorable match-up after their week 7 bye. A trip to Cincinnati for some skyline chili and a date with the Cincinnati Bengals should hit the spot. The Titans should be mindful that the Bengals will be improved from their 2019 season, even if the improvement is miniscule.
First overall pick, quarterback Joe Burrow, should be leading the Bengals at this point, although there is only so much one can expect from a rookie quarterback. Even then, Bengals running back Joe Mixon will be a major concern. Despite being the focal point of the offense last two seasons, Mixon was able to gallop his way to over 1,100 yards on the ground. He is also a factor in the passing game and will be a solid outlet for the rookie quarterback. In addition, the Bengals added speedster Tee Higgins to a wide receiving corps that already has A.J. Green and John Ross III.
The defense in Cincinnati lacks talent and a consistent pass rush. Once again, Tennessee will use ball control and time of possession to wear down the defense. A fresh start for the second half of the season for the Titans starts on the banks of the Ohio River.
16. Week 2: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
An early season date with the Jaguars in Nashville looks appetizing to say the least. The Titans have outscored the Jaguars 181-114 in six consecutive victories at Nissan Stadium. This game will be no different. Once again, Henry will be a wrecking ball and the Jaguars front seven will not have an answer to stop him.
Defensively, the Titans will try to get to quarterback Gardner Minshew early and often. The defense will look to confuse the second-year signal caller with pressure from all sides. If the Titans are able to avoid the big play over the top by wide receiver D.J. Chark, they will walk away with a victory. In short, a win against the hapless Jaguars in Week 2 is just what the Texans will need to prepare for the remainder of the season.