Tennessee Titans schedule analysis

Breakdown: A tough early season schedule resulted in a 1-4 start for the Titans last season. They’ll face another big challenge out of the gate in 2013 in what qualifies as a make-or-break season for coach Mike Munchak. Four of the first seven games are against tough teams, at tough road venues or both.

Those include the opener at Pittsburgh, a Week 2 game at Houston, Week 6 at Seattle and Week 7 against San Francisco. The Titans will probably need to fare well in a three-game homestand sandwiched between those two pairs of games -- against San Diego, the Jets and Kansas City.

The Titans play the Steelers for the sixth consecutive season. Tennessee has lost three of the past five matchups against Pittsburgh, including the 2009 Thursday night opener at Heinz Field, a 13-10 overtime loss.

Complaint department: The NFL continues to prove incapable of spacing out divisional rematches at a reasonable interval. The Titans face Indianapolis twice in a span of 17 days, in Weeks 11 and 13. It could, I suppose, wind up being favorable if they catch the Colts at a time of season when they are banged up. But that’s the point, really. The two games between division rivals should be spaced far enough apart that they see each other at different stages of the season and won’t benefit, or suffer, from the same injuries.

The Titans' game at Lucas Oil Stadium is sandwiched between long road trips to Oakland (where the Titans have lost three in a row, including the 2002 AFC Championship Game) and to Denver in what can be a very difficult stretch away from home for a young team.

Potentially big finale: The league has filled the final weekend of the regular season with all divisional matchups. If the Titans are going to surprise people and emerge as a playoff team, odds are it will require an upset in the last week of the season when they host the Houston Texans, the team that’s won the division the past two seasons.

Tennessee has lost three out of its past four against the Texans, winning only the 2011 season finale when the Texans had clinched their playoff positioning and went for, and missed, a 2-point conversion after a late touchdown to ensure there'd be no overtime.

Titans Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 8, at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM

Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 15, at Houston, 1:00 PM

Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 22, San Diego, 1:00 PM

Week 4: Sunday, Sep. 29, NY Jets, 4:05 PM

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, Kansas City, 1:00 PM

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, at Seattle, 4:05 PM

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, San Francisco, 4:05 PM

Week 8: BYE

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, at St. Louis, 1:00 PM

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, Jacksonville, 1:00 PM

Week 11: Thursday, Nov. 14, Indianapolis, 8:25 PM

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, at Oakland, 4:05 PM

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, at Denver, 4:05 PM

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, Arizona, 1:00 PM

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, Houston, 1:00 PM