Week 1: Tennessee Titans @ Cleveland Browns
Some of you see this and think: “The Titans? Really?”
Yes, really. The Titans are 24-19 with Marcus Mariota as their starting QB over the past three seasons. They’re 27-21 over those seasons overall. Hosting a 55.8 win percentage with Marcus Mariota, they’re a playoff team. A wildcard team, but a playoff team nonetheless.
Week 1 will be a magical time for the Browns, but also a dangerous one. Many key pieces will be playing for the first time in the regular season for the Browns. It will be Freddie Kitchens’ debut as Head Coach. The team is also playing without a few key pieces from last season, so replacing them will be interesting. Lets also not forget that the Browns haven’t won the first game of the season since 2004.
The Titans are returning a mostly similar core, boasting a good offensive line, Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin are one of the top tackle duos in the NFL, decent defense, and a dangerous quarterback, the Browns could be in for an upset. Don’t get me wrong, this is a game the Browns should be favored to win. However, if they don’t, its an unlikely win they give to another team that will be competing for a wildcard spot that Cleveland might be looking to get.
If the Browns end up winning the AFC North and end up as a three or four seed, then they might run into the Titans again. The only problem the Titans have had over the past few seasons is missing Marcus Mariota in key games because he gets dinged up. Now that they have veteran backup Ryan Tannehill, missing Mariota won’t be as bad as it was before.
If the Browns end up losing to the Titans in Week 1 and play them in the playoffs, the game would probably be in Cleveland. Knowing they won here before would be a huge confidence booster for the Titans squad.
The Browns need to set the tone of the season early against the Titans and come out guns blazing. If they don’t the team could be in trouble when it comes playoff time. Personally, I think the Browns will win at least two of the three games on this list. This is a time where Browns fans and players should feel excited, but the team cannot overlook any games this season, especially the crucial ones on this list.