The 2020 season marked the first time since 2015 that the Titans failed to finish the season with a record of exactly 9-7. In '20, they were better, and they rode Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill to an AFC South title. Will they be able to repeat as division champs?
While the Titans have added some talent, they have also lost a handful of important players. They also gave up on their 2020 first-round draft pick, Isaiah Wilson, amid off-the-field issues. He is now out of the league.
So, the Titans have some holes — but that hasn't stopped them from having success. Their defense, in particular, hasn't been great the last couple of years, yet they still managed to make the AFC Championship Game in '19 and won the AFC South in '20. That's thanks, in part, to their good coaching staff — as well as each team in their division having some sort of glaring weakness.
Will that be the same in '21? It's hard to say. But what we do know is that the Titans have a tough schedule highlighted by matchups with every NFC West team and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Here is a complete breakdown of the Titans’ 2021 schedule, including dates, start times and analysis for all 17 games.
Titans schedule 2021
The Titans' schedule was announced as part of the NFL's schedule release on Wednesday, May 12 at 8 p.m. ET. These are the teams that they are scheduled to play during the 2021 NFL season.
|Week||Date||Opponent||Kickoff time (ET)||TV|
|1||Sept. 12||vs. Cardinals||1 p.m.||CBS|
|2||Sept. 19||at Seahawks||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|3||Sept. 26||vs. Colts||1 p.m.||CBS|
|4||Oct. 3||at Jets||1 p.m.||CBS|
|5||Oct. 10||at Jaguars||1 p.m.||CBS|
|6||Oct. 18 (Monday)||vs. Bills||8:15 p.m.||ESPN|
|7||Oct. 24||vs. Chiefs||1 p.m.||CBS|
|8||Oct. 31||at Colts||1 p.m.||CBS|
|9||Nov. 7||at Rams||7:20 p.m.||NBC|
|10||Nov. 14||vs. Saints||1 p.m.||CBS|
|11||Nov. 21||vs. Texans||1 p.m.||CBS|
|12||Nov. 28||at Patriots||1 p.m.||CBS|
|14||Dec. 12||vs. Jaguars||1 p.m.||CBS|
|15||Dec. 19||at Steelers||1 p.m.||CBS|
|16||Dec. 23 (Thursday)||vs. 49ers||7:20 p.m.||NFLN|
|17||Jan. 2||vs. Dolphins||1 p.m.||CBS|
|18||Jan. 9||at Texans||1 p.m.||CBS|
The Titans started off the 2020 season in impressive fashion. They won five consecutive games, including a 42-16 rout of the Bills. Even more impressive is that they had been shuttered by a COVID outbreak in the lead-up to that game and were largely unable to practice.
After that, the Titans largely beat up on lesser competition but had some issues with the upper-echelon teams. Their offense was terrific, but their defense simply wasn't very good. They couldn't rush the passer, and that led to some issues on the back end with their coverage, as their corners were asked to do too much. That's why they invested a lot of money in free-agent edge rusher Bud Dupree while spending a first-round selection on Caleb Farley.
This year's schedule for the Titans figures to be tough. They won the AFC South last year and will face a first-place schedule. They also face some other upper-tier AFC competition that could take advantage of the weaknesses they still have.
Titans strength of schedule
When looking at last year's records, the Titans have this year's 13th-toughest strength of schedule at a mark of .507. That may not sound too bad, but it is the highest mark of the four teams in the AFC South.
The Titans' schedule could prove to be even more difficult than the numbers indicate. If the 49ers and Patriots can bounce back from down years during which they were missing a lot of players, they could prove to be challenging opponents for Tennessee. Maybe if the Saints regress without Drew Brees, that will balance things out, but matching up against a Sean Payton-coached team still figures to be a test.
Toughest Tests: There are plenty on this year's schedule, including getting the reigning AFC champion Chiefs at home. The Titans beatthe Chiefs during the 2019 regular season, but they can only win in a shootout given the state of their defense. As such, it may be hard to compete with Mahomes in 2021.
The Titans' road schedule is particularly brutal this season as well. They have to travel to the not-so-friendly confines of Seattle, Pittsburgh and New England and will also have to take on a great-looking Rams team in Los Angeles.
Biggest Breaks: Two games against both the Texans and the Jaguars should give the Titans a chance to earn three or four wins. The Texans are a mess right now, while the Jaguars will be breaking in a young QB and don't have a lot of talent on defense. Outside of the division, the Jets fall in a similar category as the Texans and Jaguars, so that will be an opportunity to win a game on the road.
Bottom Line: The Titans have been a good, well-coached team under Mike Vrabel, and there's no reason to expect that to change. However, after losing some key personnel on defense as well wide receiver Corey Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith, it's fair to wonder if their offense will hum along at the same clip it did last year.
That may make it harder for the Titans to compete with some of the upper-tier teams. They still have a very good, ground-dominant offense, but without improvements to the defense, they'll have to keep winning in shootouts against some of the good offenses they'll be facing.
All told, the Titans should have a solid year, but they may be right on the cusp of the playoff race. It seems like the Colts have passed them on paper, so the Titans are more of a wild card team with a mixed bag of a schedule. If it breaks well for them, they'll be good. If not, they could drop below .500 on the year for the first time under Vrabel.
For now, we'll assume he keeps them afloat and vying for a wild-card berth.
Record Prediction: 9-8