NASHVILLE, Tenn. — NFL news always has a way of stealing the spotlight but few things stir up old-fashioned, mind-numbing sports debate like the league’s April schedule release.
Particularly, when it gets leaked.
For the Tennessee Titans, 2019 will feature a slate of NFL stars and stud opponents that will make for great Sunday atmospheres. The fireworks of exciting foes, however, does not bode well for playoff aspirations.
— Buck Reising (@BuckReising) April 17, 2019
The Titans open on the road with the buzz saw that will be the new-look Cleveland Browns debut and plays three of the first four games away from Nissan Stadium. The lone home game in that same stretch: the Indianapolis Colts, quarterback Andrew Luck and his 11-0 record travel to Nashville in Week 2. The lone primetime game features a Week 3 bout between two division rivals when the Titans visit the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Because, of course it does.
Of graver concern for another postseason push, though, is how Tennessee’s schedule breaks down in the final six contests. A Week 11 bye sees second-year coach Mike Vrabel’s team return to play four of their requisite six AFC South contests (11/24 vs. JAX, 12/1 @ IND, 12/15 vs. HOU, 12/29 @ HOU) all while (theoretically) gearing up for a playoff push.
Now, for the bright side:
Score predictions and April win total projections are meaningless. An ongoing career in sports media has taught me that. The NFL may be the most unpredictable league we have from week to week. Hell, the 2018 Titans were the embodiment of Murphy’s Law.
A pragmatic analysis of those final six games would give anyone pause. Especially, when the team in question has shown 9-7 to be the baseline without much to breed hope for double-digit wins. A critical back half of Tennessee’s schedule littered with divisional, potentially tie-breaking/tie/losing pitfalls (and Antonio Brown & Drew Brees making visits in between) will again require a steady hand from Vrabel, a pass rush with more teeth and the long-term health of quarterback Marcus Mariota.
It will take all of that plus a few lucky bounces early on for the Jekyll & Hyde Titans of a season ago to prove that they are up to task.