The 2021 NFL season will be the biggest to date.
Owners decided this offseason to expand the regular season to 17 games, and Wednesday the league released that schedule. For the Tennessee Titans, it is a slate that includes three of the first five on the road and three prime-time contests, two of which are at home.
“We are excited our fans get to experience a couple of home primetime games and our players certainly feed off the fans’ energy," coach Mike Vrabel said. "We will be opening at home for the first time since I became head coach and I am happy our fans will be there to kick off the season with us.”
Here is the Titans’ 2021 schedule with one thing to know about each game:
• Sept. 12 vs. Arizona Cardinals, noon, CBS: The Cardinals now feature two players who terrorized the Titans for years, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt, as well as one who starred for Tennessee in recent years, cornerback Malcolm Butler.
• Sept. 19 at Seattle Seahawks, 3:25 p.m., CBS: The Titans and Seahawks are two of just three NFL teams (Kansas City is the other) that have had a winning record each of the last five years. Seattle actually has nine straight seasons at better than .500, eight of them with at least 10 wins.
• Sept. 26 vs. Indianapolis Colts, noon, CBS: These teams have split the season series each of the last two years with the Colts winning the first and the Titans claiming the second.
• Oct. 3 at New York Jets, noon, CBS: It has been 10 years since the last time the Jets made the playoffs. That is the longest current streak among NFL teams and at least two times as long as any other franchise.
• Oct. 10 at Jacksonville Jaguars, noon, CBS: The Titans get their first crack at first-time NFL head coach Urban Meyer and the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Presumably, it will be the first of many.
• Oct. 18 (Monday) vs. Buffalo Bills, 7:15 p.m., ESPN: The Titans scored more points in last season’s matchup with the Bills (a 42-16 victory) than they did in the previous three contests (32 combined in 2015, 2018 and 2019).
• Oct. 24 vs. Kansas City Chiefs, noon, CBS: The Chiefs’ last visit to Nissan Stadium was their last loss in 2019 before they ripped off nine straight victories (six in the regular season, three in the postseason) capped by a Super Bowl triumph.
• Oct. 31 at Indianapolis Colts, noon, CBS: Indianapolis is the only one of the three AFC South opponents that has not allowed Derrick Henry to rush for 200 yards in a game. Henry has topped 100 in each of the last three, though.
• Nov. 7 at Los Angeles Rams, 7:20 p.m., NBC: The Rams’ biggest offseason move was a trade for quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is 0-3 against Tennessee in his career. The Titans are one of three teams (Houston and Cincinnati are the others) he has faced at least three times but never beaten.
• Nov. 14 vs. New Orleans Saints, noon, CBS: The visiting team has won the last four meetings in this series, most recently New Orleans’ 38-28 victory in Week 16 of the 2019 season, a game that was meaningless for the Titans at the time.
• Nov. 21 vs. Houston Texans, noon, CBS: Derrick Henry is the only player in NFL history with three 200-yard rushing games against a single opponent, and they have come in his last three games against Houston capped by a career-best 250 yards in the most recent meeting.
• Nov. 28 at New England Patriots, noon, CBS: The winning team has scored more than 30 points in each of the last six regular-season meetings. That stretch includes New England’s 59-0 triumph in 2009 and the Titans’ 34-10 victory in 2018.
• Dec. 5 BYE
• Dec. 12 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, noon, CBS: Tennessee is 5-1 against Jacksonville under coach Mike Vrabel. That is one fewer win than they have against the Colts and Texans over the same span.
• Dec. 19 at Pittsburgh Steelers, noon, CBS: The Steelers were the first team to beat the Titans and the last unbeaten team in 2020, but they were barely better than a .500 team following their 27-24 triumph at Nissan Stadium.
• Dec. 23 (Thursday) vs. San Francisco 49ers, 7:20 p.m., NFL Network: The 49ers have had 10 or more losses in five of the last six seasons. The exception was 2019, when they went 13-3 and reached the Super Bowl.
• Jan. 2 vs. Miami Dolphins, noon, CBS: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill started 88 games for the Dolphins from 2012 through 2018 (his record was 42-46). This will be his first chance to play against the team that selected him eighth overall in 2012.
• Jan. 9 at Houston Texans, noon, CBS: This is the third time in as many years that the Titans face the Texans in the regular season finale.