Writer: Elliot Kennel
Game: Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns
Summary: If you believe the hype, the score should be 45 to 10 or something like that. The reality is that the Browns are the more talented team, but this is the NFL and the Tennesee Titans can play some ball also.
Coach Mike Vrabel and his staff have had all winter to figure out what is wrong with the Freddie Kitchens offense and they may have a few answers. Tennessee has a very talented secondary with corners Logan Ryan, Adoree’ Jackson and Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler (yep, the same guy who made the late interception versus Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX), and safeties Kenny Vaccaro and Kevin Byard.
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They operate out of a 3-4 defense, more of a containment philosophy rather than the massive pass rush. Nevertheless, they are going to attack the right side of the Browns line with Eric Kush at RG and Chris Hubbard at right tackle and they may have some success containing Nick Chubb’s running lane and getting to Baker Mayfield. This may not be one of Mayfield’s greatest games against a defense which covers well and which will exploit the Browns weak right side of the offensive line.
Last year the Browns would have had no answer to the twin rushing attack with big bad Derrick Henry and ex-Brown Dion Lewis. Those Browns would have gotten beat up at the defensive line, but this year they have Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon on the defensive line to stop him. Marcus Mariota is mobile enough to stay away from Myles Garrett and will have some opportunities to rediscover star TE Delanie Walker, who is coming off IR. However, the Tennessee wide receivers are going to be covered by Denzel Ward and company. They are not going to move the ball well.
The Browns will not be happy with their offense versus Tennessee, but they have too much talent overall and prevail, despite breakdowns on offense that keep Tennessee in the game.
Prediction: Cleveland 21, Tennessee 16