With the season drawing ever closer, people everywhere can start to look forward to the start of their team’s season. While draft prognostications and reflections are fun, they get tired rather quickly and the hunger for football gets stronger. Pre-season, believe it or not, is less than two months away, and with that being said, let’s take a look at five games that should prove to be the most exciting for the Titans in 2012.
5. Tennessee Titans vs. Detroit Lions – 09/23
In just the third game of the season, the Titans have their work cut out for them. The Lions really skyrocketed in their development as a team last year, narrowly missing the playoffs. There isn’t a defensive coordinator in the NFL that won’t lose sleep over the thought of Megatron tearing apart their carefully constructed defense, and you can most certainly add Jerry Gray to that list. A lot has been made of Jason McCourty stepping up and becoming a leader on defense in light of Finnegan’s Wake (1,000 Literary Nerd points if you got that reference), and defensive assignments don’t get any tougher than this one. McCourty can do a lot to show that he deserves to be regarded as a true #1 corner in this league by containing Johnson to a degree, or else he will show that he still has some learning to do on the field. One added layer of intrigue is the return of Jim Schwartz to LP Field, even if it is on the opposite sideline.
4. Tennessee Titans vs New England Patriots – 09/09
Seasons don’t start any tougher than this. Much has been made about the fact that with the new regime and shortened off-season, a “Jerry-Gray-Light” defense was executed last year. This season will be exciting for many reasons, but one of the chief among them is that we will get a stronger taste of what to expect on defense. Many are expecting a number of schemes with exotic looks and blitzes, and with the athleticism on defense, it will be exciting to see how things will look. But let’s not fool ourselves: These are the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick New England Patriots (no disrespect to the rest of the team). They can score as fast as any team in the league, and the defense is going to be on their heels the whole time. It will be interesting to see if they wait until week 2 at San Diego to implement a lot of the more exotic looks, or if they come right out with them. It will be a true test of where our defense will be at this season.
3. Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans – 09/30
With this game being our fourth of the season, you can see that the Titans have arguably the toughest initial 4-game stretch of any team in the NFL (Game 2 is against the Chargers, in San Diego). It would not be a complete and total surprise if the Titans were 0-3 at this point (I believe they’ll be no worse than 1-2, but that could be team bias), and regardless of the team’s record, this is what some people refer to as a “statement game”. The Texans are our biggest rival at this point (I still will always hate the Jags and love what the record 14-2 means between our teams), and the rest of the league, analysts, and everyone in between already have the AFC South locked up for Houston. Going into their house and smacking around the likes of Foster, Schaub, Johnson and the rest, not to mention what will hopefully be a dangerous aerial assault to unleash on the defense, would let the league know that the Titans are for real.
2. Tennessee Titans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – 10/11
One of the greatest aspects of this game is that it will be played on Prime Time, Thursday night on the NFL Network. The Titans are not a team that gets a lot of prime time opportunities, so for this one to come along is not only welcome news for the fans, but the team as well. I remember when Keith Bulluck earned the nickname, “Mr. Monday Night” on account of how dominant of a force he was during those games. Many of the youngins on the roster have not had an opportunity to play a prime-time game, and you can bet all of the team will be looking forward to playing on a more highly exposed stage. Now, if this game happened to be against, say, the Seahawks or the Browns, it wouldn’t be much to write home about. However, the fact that we are playing Pittsburgh means the entire team is going to expect, and get, a brutal challenge full of nasty hits and nastier tempers. It doesn’t really get much more exciting than this one. Except of course for…
1. Tennessee Titans vs. New York Jets – 12/17
Hello Monday Night Football! The Titans haven’t played Monday Night since 2010, when we played the Jaguars. The Titans aren’t known for attracting a lot of attention out there in the world, but there are a few cats on the New York Jets that have gotten some play on radio and T.V., including Santonio Holmes, Marky Mark Sanchez, and, of course, Mr. Rex Ryan. They also have this backup QB on their team that certain people seem to enjoy following. New York is one of the most consistently scrutinized sports cities in the world, and every high profile game of theirs is going to attract a lot of attention. For as big of a deal as a Monday night game is for Titans fans, it’s just as big of a deal if not more so for Jets fans. By this point, the aforementioned backup QB may even be the starting QB. Imagine if that were the case when they play Tennessee? The circus would certainly be in town, and something tells me our boys will be prepared to rise up to the occasion and show the world on a large platform what Tennessee Titans football truly stands for.
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