The Titans and the rest of the AFC South will have games against each team from the AFC North in 2014. Here’s a look at those opponents (the schedule of dates will be announced in spring):
At Cincinnati Bengals
Bengals’ 2013 Finish: (11-5); Points For: 430; Points Against: 305; Net (125); TDs: 54; Home: 8-0; Away: 3-5; Conf: 8-4; Last 5: 4-1
Bengals’ 2013 Rankings: Total Offense (10th, 368.4 yards per game); Total Defense (3rd, 305.5)
Titans vs. Bengals Overall: (39-32-1); Most Recent: Bengals 24, Titans 17 in 2011; Last time in Cincinnati: Titans 24, Bengals 7 in 2008
Early Outlook: Cincinnati will be entering 2014 after three straight trips to the postseason. The combination of QB Andy Dalton to WR A.J. Green, who had 98 catches for 1,426 yards and 11 touchdowns, will likely be a point of emphasis for the Titans’ secondary. Tennessee played at Cincinnati during the preseason in 2013, offering a glimpse of versatile running back Giovani Bernard on offense and a strong defense that finished third in the NFL in yards allowed per game in 2013.
Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers’ 2013 Finish: (8-8); Points For: 379; Points Against: 370; Net (9); TDs: 41; Home: 5-3; Away 3-5; Conf: 6-6; Last 5: 3-2
Steelers’ 2013 Rankings: Total Offense (20th, 337.5 yards per game); Total Defense (13th, 337.2)
Titans vs. Steelers Overall: (31-41); Most Recent: Titans 16, Steelers 9 in 2013; Last time at LP Field: Titans 26, Steelers 23 in 2012
Early Outlook: This will be the sixth straight year in which the former AFC Central rivals have met. The teams are 3-3, with Tennessee taking the past two. The Titans were able to open 2013 with a solid win at Pittsburgh.
Important things to watch for the Steelers will be the health of the offensive line, particularly at center where Maurkice Pouncey suffered a season-ending injury in the opener and former Titan Fernando Velasco was injured on Thanksgiving, and the age of the defense, which saw its rankings (usually in the top five or top 10) fall last season. The four players in the Steelers’ 2013 starting secondary have played 41 seasons in the NFL.
At Baltimore Ravens
Ravens’ 2013 Finish: (8-8); Points For: 320; Points Against: (352); Net (-32); TDs: 29; Home: 6-2; Away: 2-6; Conf: 6-6; Last 5: 3-2
Ravens’ 2013 Rankings: Total Offense (29th, 307.4 yards per game); Total Defense (12th, 335.5)
Titans vs. Ravens Overall: (9-8); Most Recent: Titans 26, Ravens 13 in 2011; Last time in Baltimore: Titans 13, Ravens 10 in 2008
Early Outlook: The Ravens will enter 2014 a little more refreshed but definitely not relaxed after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Baltimore narrowly missed out on the final spot for the AFC playoffs and a chance to defend its Super Bowl XLVII crown. The Ravens’ 29 touchdowns were just one more than what the Texans (2-14) scored and four more than what the Jaguars (4-12) did in 2013, which can be partially tied to Ray Rice dealing with a hip injury.
Vs. Cleveland Browns
Browns’ 2013 Finish: (4-12); Points For: 308; Points Against: 406; Net (-98); TDs: 35; Home: 3-5; Away: 1-7; Conf: 3-9; Last 5: 0-5
2013 Rankings: Total Offense (18th, 338.9 yards per game); Total Defense (9th, 332.4)
Titans vs. Browns Overall: (28-33); Most Recent: Titans 31, Browns 13 in 2011; Last time at LP Field: Titans 28, Browns 9 in 2008
Early Outlook: The Browns will have a new coaching staff in 2014 and their fourth head coach since Cleveland last visited Nashville. The Browns are 23-57 in the five seasons that have followed, but second-year pro Josh Gordon, a former teammate of Kendall Wright at Baylor, led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards in 2013. Gordon averaged 18.9 yards on 87 catches and had nine touchdowns, despite missing the first two games of the season and having three different quarterbacks last season.
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