Game-by-game predictions: Tennessee Titans

There is a draft class still to be assembled. We're not certain who the starting quarterback will be. We've got an offseason and training camp to gauge progress in the second-year systems. At this point, I think the Titans will improve because the defense has added some upgrades and because the franchise is bound to regress to the mean. We reserve the right, of course, to alter these as we learn more.

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, at Tampa Bay, 4:25 p.m.

A revamped Titans defense with Dick LeBeau calling the shots gives a rookie quarterback a difficult time. A less-than-stellar offense protects the ball well enough to win. Titans 20, Buccaneers 17. Record: 1-0.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, at Cleveland, 1 p.m.

The Titans start with two winnable games, but as of now I think they split the trips. Cleveland found a way to win this one last year, and that was in Nashville. Browns 24, Titans 17. Record: 1-1.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

The gap between what was the best team in the division and what was the worst team in 2014 remains big. Andrew Luck finds things to exploit and the Titans can’t run against the Colts the way teams that hang with them do. Colts 37, Titans 20. Record: 1-2.

Week 4: Bye.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, Buffalo, 1 p.m.

The Titans have had some good games defensively, but Rex Ryan’s defense is in full swing. A battle of two questionable offenses tips in favor of the team with a marquee running back. Bills 16, Titans 9. Record: 1-3.

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, Miami, 1 p.m.

Tennessee will win at least one of these four during this big homestand. LeBeau and the defense highlight the second win as they did the first, this time providing a rough day for Ryan Tannehill. Titans 23, Dolphins 21. Record: 2-3.

Week 7: Sunday Oct. 25, Atlanta, 1 p.m.

The Titans defense doesn’t sustain the effort from the game before. That’s harder when Matt Ryan is the quarterback and Julio Jones is catching passes. Dan Quinn’s up-and-down first-year defense is the better one on this day. Falcons 30, Titans 19. Record: 2-4.

Week 8: Sunday Nov. 1, at Houston, 1 p.m.

While the Titans limit whichever middling quarterback is starting for Houston, the Texans fare even better against Zach Mettenberger, who I am presuming in early April will be their starter this season. Shockingly, J.J. Watt is of influence. Texans 17, Titans 14. Record: 2-5.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, at New Orleans, 1 p.m.

The Saints should have an offense that isn’t as good as we’re used to and a defense that isn’t as bad. But things balance out well enough that they find points at home even as they give some up. Drew Brees has seen whatever the Titans throw at him. New Orleans 34, Titans 27. Record: 2-6.

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, Carolina, 1 p.m.

The Titans have their biggest pass rush game of the year, partially thanks to Michael Oher, and it keeps them in this one for a good while. But ultimately they can’t find more than one trip to the end zone. Panthers 16, Titans 7. Record: 2-7.

Week 11: Thursday, Nov. 19, at Jacksonville, 8:25 p.m.

In gut-wrenching fashion, the Titans watch Josh Scobee hit a long field goal as time expires and the Jaguars maintain their status as the third-best team in the AFC South, at least for now. There will be no winning record. Silver lining: The rematch comes in a hurry. Jaguars 24, Titans 23. Record: 2-8.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, Oakland, 1 p.m.

The struggling Raiders come to the Southeast and have a hard time. It’s one of those days when everything goes right for the home team, and everything goes wrong for the visitors. Delanie Walker has a huge offensive game as Tennessee surpasses 2014’s win total. Titans 33, Raiders 10. Record: 3-8.

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

Payback in a less compelling game with a better result for the Titans, who split the season series. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has had some good games. This isn’t one of them. Titans 27, Jaguars 17. Record: 4-8.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, at New York Jets, 1 p.m.

Under a new regime, the Jets have done well on defense but really struggled on offense. The Titans have had some good defensive weeks, and their recipe for success is generally play well defensively, cause a couple of turnovers and protect the ball well. They do that against Gang Green and string together a third win in a row. Titans 23, Jets 13. Record 5-8.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, at New England, 1 p.m.

A mismatch in every way imaginable. Outplayed on offense, defense and special teams. Out-prepared. Out-coached. Out-classed. The Patriots do it to a lot of teams. They bring the streaking Titans way back to reality with a very easy afternoon. Patriots 38, Titans 13. Record: 5-9.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, Houston, 1 p.m.

Both teams have gotten better since their first meeting. Which is good for the Titans but bad for their chance to pull off a split. The Texans have a better roster, better high end players and get better results. Watt and Arian Foster key this one, as Houston is in range of the Colts in a battle for the division and in range of a wild card if it comes up short of Indy. Texans 26, Titans 20. Record: 5-10.

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

With Houston’s easy schedule, I sense the Texans could be poised to make the division crown a tougher deal for the Colts. While their finale hasn’t always meant a great deal, it will here. And while the Titans play well in an attempt to end on a good note, the Colts have more at stake and get what they need. Colts 30, Titans 24. Record: 5-11.