The Tennessee Titans have a lot of games to look forward to in 2017.
If you somehow missed the grand unveiling of the Tennessee Titans’ 2017 schedule, then you probably have a semblance of a work and social life and weren’t on pins and needles waiting to see when the Titans play their opponents. Every game is important, but there are some games this season that must be circled on your calendars. Here they are.
Week 1: Home vs. Oakland Raiders
Opening day is always going to be circled on the calendar, but this opener has some intriguing storylines, both primary and secondary. Firstly, the Titans have fallen to the Raiders in consecutive years in very close games. Last season’s loss was brutal for several reasons. There was the Taylor Lewan penalty that pushed the Titans back from the Raiders’ two-yard line, and the game culminated with a phantom offensive pass interference call on Andre Johnson, who had seemed to score the game-tying touchdown. The Titans will be amped to get their revenge and start the season off right.
Secondly, Marshawn Lynch will make his return to the NFL after a year-long hiatus. One of the most exciting players and figures in the game over the last decade, “Beast Mode” will give the Raiders a whole new swagger on offense. One aspect of this game that can’t be overlooked is both team’s quarterbacks, Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, who are each coming off fibula injuries that ended their 2016 seasons in the same week. Will they both be ready or rusty?
Week 3: Home vs. Seattle Seahawks
Every Seahawks game has the potential to be a violent slobberknocker. While their defense appears to be fading, their identity as a physical, dominant football team is very much intact. Pete Carroll’s unit has won the Super Bowl, lost the Super Bowl, and lost in consecutive divisional rounds over the past four years. This is the type of game that opposing teams always get up for with an extra pep in their step. To be the best, you have to beat the best, and the Seahawks are still football royalty.
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Week 6: Home vs. Indianapolis Colts (Monday Night Football)
The first Monday night game for the Titans since 2014 will come at home against the team they haven’t beaten since 2011. In the Titans’ last Monday night game against the Colts, during their 13-3 ’08 season, they handedly beat their rivals 31-21 on the back of two LenDale White touchdowns and one Chris Johnson score. I remember that sweet, sweet victory like it was yesterday.
This is going to be a statement game for the Titans. If this franchise is truly heading in the right direction, a win against the team they seemingly can’t beat will go a long way towards cementing the Titans as a legitimate threat in the AFC South. Having it happen on national television will help, too.
Week 11: Away at Pittsburgh Steelers (Thursday Night Football)
The second primetime game of the season for the Titans comes against an old foe. It used to feel like the Titans played the Steelers every year, but that feeling has died down recently. The last time these two faced off was in a Monday night showdown in 2014; a game in which Le’Veon Bell eviscerated the Titans defense and Zach Mettenberger started. Before that game, the Titans had played the Steelers in six straight years, going 3-3 against the Steel Curtain.
One of those wins came on a Thursday night in 2012, ending with a game-winning field goal from always-trustworthy Rob Bironas. Both teams have changed dramatically since that season. The Titans are on the upswing with a new GM, a new head coach, and an entirely different roster. The Steelers are now an offensive powerhouse instead of the defensive stalwart they used to be, but their organizational stability and continuity remains. The Steelers are a model franchise that many teams aspire to be. Beating them on national television would reinforce the stellar rebuilding job Jon Robinson has started.
Week 17: Home vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
As a wise man once said, revenge is a dish best served cold. If you aren’t aware, the Jaguars ended the Titans’ 2016 playoff hopes and injured our franchise quarterback in the process in Week 16 last year. The Titans ended the season at 9-7 and missed out on the division title due to tiebreakers. The Jags finished at 3-13, but went into the offseason with the comfort of having knocked out one of their divisional rivals. They kept interim head coach Doug Marrone, hired Tom Coughlin to effectively run the franchise, and “won” the offseason”. It’ll be interesting to see if their moves pay off.
Finishing the year with two straight home games, and the final one against arguably their most-hated rival, is a godsend. Odds are this season might very well come down to the final game of the season, just as it could have if the Titans had won that Week 16 game last year. Let’s hope the team’s fortunes are different this year.