Titans get prime-time respect, but it comes with added pressure

Marcus Mariota helped the Titans end an eight-year playoff drought. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The NFL has released its 2018 regular-season schedule. Here's a look at what's in store for the Tennessee Titans.

Breakdown: Three prime-time games and a London showdown means the world will get to know these Titans, and there will be some added pressure to live up to their newly earned respect. This is the first time the Titans got at least three primetime games since 2009 and first time with two Monday Night Football games since 2007. The numbers say the Titans have one of the easiest schedules and the NFL did them a few favors with only one road back-to-back, a bye after their London trip and a finish with two home games against 2017 non-playoff teams. However, emerging out of a suddenly tough AFC South won’t be a cakewalk. There are sneaky potholes in the schedule if Titans get caught slipping during a November lineup of three road games against 2017 non-playoff teams, plus the Patriots. First-year coach Mike Vrabel will preach to his team the value of “managing expectations," but they have the roster and schedule path to, at minimum, return to the playoffs.

Family reunion: What's the over-under on "Patriots Southeast" references when the Titans host the Patriots in Week 10? This homecoming will be the biggest for Vrabel, who played eight seasons in New England, and new Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler, who had an unceremonious departure from New England after his Super Bowl LII benching. It's a little surprising it won't be on prime time, given those storylines, plus the fact that it will be a rematch of the the Patriots' 35-14 AFC divisional playoff victory over the Titans. Other important family reunions include Vrabel's Week 12 return to Houston, where he spent the last four years coaching the Texans, and Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees' Week 6 reunion with Baltimore, where he coached last eight years before a brief retirement.

Handling London: The Titans have known for months that they'd be playing the Chargers in London, but now they can start setting a plan for how to best handle that week, along with the weeks surrounding it. Teams making their first international trips have often struggled with that part. The Titans will likely have a tough home contest against the Ravens in Week 6 before heading to London. It will be a unique and exciting experience for the Titans organization and players, but the Chargers are expected to be a good team with playoff expectations. The Titans have to make sure the location doesn't cause them to lose this game. Tennessee was fortunate to get a bye week following this game, so their schedule won't be thrown off when returning to the states. They do get a break with no game west of Dallas all season.

Strength of schedule: 31st, .465

Titans' regular-season schedule (all times Eastern)

  • Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, at Miami, 1 p.m.

  • Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, Houston, 1 p.m.

  • Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

  • Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

  • Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.

  • Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, Baltimore, 4:25 p.m.

  • Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, at Los Angeles Chargers (London), 9:30 a.m.

  • Week 8: BYE

  • Week 9: Monday, Nov. 5, at Dallas, 8:15 p.m.

  • Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, New England, 1 p.m.

  • Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

  • Week 12: Monday, Nov. 26, at Houston, 8:15 p.m.

  • Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, NY Jets, 4:05 p.m.

  • Week 14: Thursday, Dec. 6, Jacksonville, 8:20 p.m.

  • Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, at NY Giants, 1 p.m.

  • Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, Washington, 1 p.m.

  • Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, Indianapolis, 1 p.m.