2018 Tennessee Titans game-by-game predictions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It would have been hard for the Titans to draw up a better schedule with the opponents they were given, but they still have to play the games. With a playoff win under their belt, a playoff berth should be the minimum expectation. A lot of eyes will be on Titans new head coach Mike Vrabel, offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur and quarterback Marcus Mariota.

It's time for way-too-early predictions based on each team's current landscape headed into the draft.

Week 1: Sept. 9 at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. ET

Every team wants to start with a home win, but the Titans landed a good Week 1 road draw. Yeah, it'll be hot and humid, but this is the fourth consecutive season these teams have played, and third in a row at Miami in the first five games of the season. The Dolphins' lack of an identity at QB, and throughout the team, which should lead to a Titans Week 1 win. Record: 1-0

Week 2: Sept. 16 vs. Houston Texans, 1 p.m. ET

The Titans don't have peachy memories about Deshaun Watson. The last time the Titans faced Watson, he went off for 5 TDs in a 57-14 victory. Mariota got hurt that game, too. Not peachy. But the Titans might catch a break facing Watson for the first time early in the season, when he's likely to still be adjusting to his surgically repaired ACL. Record: 2-0

Week 3: Sept. 23 at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. ET

The Titans swept the season series with Jaguars, but Jacksonville claimed the division. This is becoming an intense rivalry again with last season’s matchups highlighted by fists thrown postgame and jab of words through the media. Jags will be motivated to get this first one at home. Record: 2-1

Week 4: Sept. 30 vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m. ET

The champs coming to town is one of the highlights of the Titans schedule. Like Watson, it's a positive that the Titans get Carson Wentz early in the schedule because he's still recovering from a surgically repaired ACL. Wentz will be the best QB the Titans have faced so far and he might be too much in an early test for the Titans' new-look secondary. Record: 2-2

Week 5: Oct. 7 at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. ET

Titans get a break getting by getting their Buffalo trip early in the schedule, saving them from potentially cold weather. Who knows who the Bills' QB will be by this point, but the Titans are the better team here and should end their two-game losing streak thanks to a strong performance from Mariota. Record: 3-2

Week 6: Oct. 14 vs. Baltimore Ravens, 4:25 p.m. ET

First late-afternoon game of the schedule. The Titans got the better of the Ravens in a slugfest last season, and they'll do it again this season thanks to Kevin Byard and the Titans defensive backs forcing four turnovers. Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees celebrates a victory over his former team with a strong defensive day. Record: 4-2

Week 7: Oct. 21 vs. Los Angeles Chargers in London, 9:30 a.m. ET

The Titans handled their West Coast road trip poorly in 2017, and this will be their hiccup in 2018. Tennessee has never played in London, and that's sure to have some impact on this game against what is probably the AFC West's best team. Philip Rivers and Joey Bosa lead the Chargers to an overseas win. Record: 4-3

Week 8: BYE

Week 9: Nov. 5 at Dallas Cowboys, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

Two young talented QBs on a big ESPN prime-time stage. Dak Prescott, like Mariota, finds himself at somewhat of a crossroads after a rocky 2017 season. The difference is Mariota has a better supporting cast around him and that’s enough to nab a big, prime-time road win. Record: 5-3

Week 10: Nov. 11 vs. New England Patriots, 1 p.m. ET

A bit surprising that Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis and Mike Vrabel’s reunion with Patriots didn’t earn a prime-time slot. There is never a good time to play the Patriots, but getting them Week 10 after a SNF game against the Packers and before their Week 11 bye is a good draw. The Titans are more competitive than their 35-14 loss in the AFC divisional playoff game last season showed, but not enough to win. Record: 5-4

Week 11: Nov. 18 at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. ET

I remember when the Colts were the kings of this division and the everyone else was playing catch-up. It seems so long ago. Andrew Luck is always dangerous, if healthy, but there’s not much of a roster to scare anyone. Derrick Henry runs wild on Colts' porous run defense, as he did last year in Indy. Record: 6-4

Week 12: Nov. 26 at Houston Texans, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

Sweet prime-time platform for Vrabel’s first matchup against his former squad and teacher Bill O’Brien. Hopefully both QBs are healthy so we’ll see the highly competitive Mariota-Watson shootout that we’ve been anticipating since the latter was drafted. DeAndre Hopkins vs. Butler matchup should be fun, too. The Texans draw a season series split in this one. Record: 6-5

Week 13: Dec. 2 vs. New York Jets, 4:05 p.m. ET

A potential Jets rookie QB (Baker Mayfield?) might be settled in as the starter here, but the Titans can't fall asleep even if New York isn't in the playoff race. Remember San Francisco last year? Dangerous, but Titans survive a close one despite looking ahead to the Jags showdown. Record 7-5

Week 14: Dec. 6 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 8:20 p.m. ET

Jags-Titans is back on Thursday Night Football, but it isn’t a joke anymore. Possibly the best moment of the Titans’ 2017 season came in their regular-season finale when Mariota threw Jags safety Barry Church into the ground with a nasty stiff-arm to essentially clinch a playoff berth and ignite the Titans. Tennessee gets a home repeat. Record: 8-5

Week 15: Dec. 16 at New York Giants, 1 p.m. ET

This is a sneaky tough game due to a mid-December trip to the Meadowlands against an always unpredictable NFC East team. Odell Beckham Jr. may be (tight one between he and Hopkins) the best receiver on the schedule. The Giants might miss the playoffs again in 2018, but the Titans always find a way to lose one of these December road games. This feels like the one, with Eli Manning getting hot. Record: 8-6

Week 16: Dec. 22 or 23 vs. Washington Redskins, TBA

The Alex Smith-led Redskins might be in thick of a playoff race, like the Titans, so this could end up being one of the more underrated games on the schedule. The NFL is keeping the 22nd and 23rd open for flexibility. Brian Orakpo steals the show against his former team with two sacks, including a game-clincher. Record: 9-6

Week 17: Dec. 30 vs. Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. ET

The 2017 Titans swept the Colts for the first time since 2002. They’ll do it again this year as Mariota makes his jolt toward being labeled the AFC South’s best QB. More importantly, it could be enough to clinch their first division title since 2008. Record: 10-6