Tennessee Titans: Previewing the 2018 Schedule – Week 4

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 08: The Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders during the team's Super Bowl Victory Parade on February 8, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 08: The Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders during the team's Super Bowl Victory Parade on February 8, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Continuing to examine the 2018 Tennessee Titans schedule by taking a look at their Week 4 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Now that most rosters are largely set in stone following free agency and the draft, we can finally begin to look ahead to next season and gauge how the Tennessee Titans’ roster will match up with opponents’, as well as start to put together a rough estimate for wins and losses. With little to no news coming out of training camps this time of year except for notable absences, this marks a great time to preview how each team the Titans will face has changed over the offseason and whether that team is trending up or down in 2018.

As even the most casual of football fans knows, the Philadelphia Eagles brought joy to their legions of fans by bringing Philadelphia the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl victory. Despite injuries to key players that included franchise LT Jason Peters, veteran RB Darren Sproles, linebacker Jordan Hicks and, most importantly, early MVP candidate Carson Wentz, Philadelphia still managed to defeat the New England Patriots and bring home the coveted Lombardi Trophy. Despite this rash of injuries, Doug Pederson and staff facilitated the play of backups like Nick Foles and Halapoulivaati Vaitai to keep the team rolling throughout the playoffs. Only one year after fans and the media openly questioned if Pederson was the right man for the job, the team heads into 2018 as the defending champs with one of the league’s deepest rosters on both sides of the football.

Although having one of the league’s best scoring defenses takes some of the stress off of the offense to put up a ton of points, the Eagles did that anyways, as they tied with the Patriots for second in points per game. The Eagles receiving corps was not very highly regarded heading into 2017, but that was before Alshon Jeffery “proved it” on his one-year “prove it” deal, while Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz experienced huge breakout seasons as now-departed OC Frank Reich and Wentz repeatedly put them in a position to succeed. A running back-by-committee approach worked to a tee, with Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, LeGarrette Blount, and mid-season trade addition Jay Ajayi all contributing to a potent rushing attack.

More from Titan Sized

Even better than the success of 2017, is the knowledge that more success is to come in the next couple of seasons. With most of their franchise cornerstones under contract for the foreseeable future, the Eagles left the 2018 offseason relatively unscathed when compared to other successful rosters coming off of a Super Bowl victory. With that level of continuity and young talent on the Eagles’ roster, anything but another deep playoff run would be a disappointment, and Philadelphia should again be one of the league’s best in 2018.

As previously stated, the Eagles’ roster has remained largely intact, with the team only losing players like Vinny Curry, Torrey Smith, Mychal Kendricks, and LeGarrette Blount, all of whom can and will be replaced. The only loss that Philadelphia might come to regret would be veteran CB Patrick Robinson, who resuscitated his career with the Eagles and has now left to join the New Orleans Saints. Robinson was one of the league’s best slot cornerbacks in 2017, and the Eagles did not draft any new talent to fill the void he left behind. Their efforts to replace Robinson with Panthers CB Daryl Worley failed after the team was forced to release the young cornerback following off-field issues.

In regards to the new talent that the Eagles did add over the course of the offseason, most of the high impact players were added via trade or free agency. With a roster as deep as the one boasted by the Eagles, it becomes difficult to add impact players through the draft, as they will have a tougher time fighting for playing time. Recognizing this fact, the Eagles traded back and added several extremely talented, albeit raw players like TE Dallas Goedert, CB Avonte Maddox, and DE Josh Sweat who could crack the Eagles’ roster if given time.

Meanwhile, the Eagles made shrewd deals with players like Mike Wallace and Haloti Ngata, who are past their prime but still capable of being role players on a contending team like the Eagles. GM Howie Roseman also traded peanuts to Seattle for the still-formidable defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who will now join one of the league’s best defensive line rooms. Despite very little financial wiggle room, Roseman managed to add several veteran pieces to a contending roster and still had room to re-sign LB Nigel Bradham to a five-year deal.

In regards to how the Titans will match up with the Eagles in Week 4, the Titans must begin to take the next step and defeat other playoff contenders at this point in the franchise’s trajectory. Jon Robinson and Amy Adams Strunk both clearly believe that this team can compete with the league’s best after they fired Mike Mularkey coming off of a 9-7 season and signed big-ticket free agents like Malcolm Butler and Dion Lewis in the offseason. Last season, the Titans struggled against the top dogs in the NFL, as they only defeated two playoff teams (the Jaguars and the Chiefs) and suffered blowouts against the Steelers and Patriots (two perennial playoff contenders in the AFC).

Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans /

Tennessee Titans

The Titans will not always have the luxury of an easy schedule and must learn to assert themselves against other playoff contenders or remain stuck in the middle of the pack in the NFL. Until the Titans demonstrate that they are capable of defeating the league’s best, it is extremely difficult to pick the Titans against a team like the Eagles. That said, this game should be fairly close, as both teams sport a solid defense and well-balanced offenses. The Titans’ offensive line needs to return to its 2016 form to stave off a very talented defensive line that can easily slow an opposing offense.

At the same time, QB Marcus Mariota can exploit a cornerback room that has a lot of question marks behind Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills. If Mariota can click on all cylinders during this contest, the Titans stand a real chance of winning against a defense that will make running yards hard to find. Against a team with as many weapons as the Eagles, it isn’t a matter of if they will score, but rather when and how much they will score, so the Titans must be able to keep up offensively and not allow the Eagles to get too far ahead. In short, the Titans can win this game if everything goes their way, but against a defending champion that lost little, added a few solid free agents, and will get important players back from injury, I have to predict that the Eagles will come out on top in this one. However, an on-the-rise Titans roster will prove that they can hang with the league’s best, something that the Titans did not show in 2017.

Predicted Outcome:  Loss

Current Predicted Record (Updated Each Installment): 2-2

Next: Mariota's Success Linked to Run Game