When the the Tennessee Titans’ 2019 schedule was released on Wednesday night, the first thing most folks noticed was the absence of “marquee” games.
The Titans only play one prime-time game next season — week three on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
— Luke Worsham (@luke_worsham) April 18, 2019
That means there are zero prime-time games scheduled to take place in Nashville next season. You know, the city that’s about to host one of the biggest NFL events of the year next week.
So why did the Titans get left off the prime-time schedule?
Well, I have a theory.
I think the NFL looked at what happened in week 17 last season — when the Titans were flexed to Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts and Marcus Mariota missed the game — and decided Tennessee was too big of a risk to schedule on a Sunday or Monday night.
Specifically, I think the NFL was worried about Ryan Tannehill potentially starting a prime-time game. As far as hype and ratings go, a Tannehill led prime-time game would be disastrous for the NFL. Basically, I think Mariota’s inability to consistently stay healthy is the driving factor behind the NFL’s scheduling of Tennessee’s games in 2019.
It’s not just the Titans that received this treatment, either. The Carolina Panthers were also noticeably left off the prime-time slate of games (they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night in week two, but that’s not a “marquee” time slot).
I think the Panthers’ lack of prime-time games is because the NFL is uncertain of Cam Newton’s health, and ability to stay healthy, heading into the 2019 season. Newton underwent shoulder surgery this past off-season after missing Carolina’s final couple of games in 2018.
Time slots can change
If Mariota stays healthy, and the Titans get off to a good start, the good news for fans is that the NFL can flex Tennessee into a prime-time slot starting in week five (like they did last season in week 17).
The Titans’ week 16 matchup against the New Orleans Saints (which is a home game) could be a game that’s flexed into prime-time if the Titans are in the playoff hunt.
Here are the NFL’s rules on flexible scheduling.
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Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports