Friday, October 14, 2016

Browns Preview: Cleveland Browns @ Tennessee Titans

By Katelin Marshall, @KatelinKnowsCLE

The (0-5) Cleveland Browns travel to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans who are (2-3). The Browns got blown out last week against the New England Patriots 33-13.  While the Titans won in Miami verse the Dolphins 30-17. The Browns will be starting rookie quarterback Cody Kessler this week, even though he is recovering from a rib/chest injury that took him out of the game last week.

Browns Offense Vs Titans Defense

The Browns are going to continue to run the ball this week. Isaiah Crowell was the leading rusher going for 22 yards on 13 carries. Yes, he and the run game overall was terrible but the Browns had to play catch up with Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback. Also Joel Bitonio was hurt during second half and unfortunately he will be out for a few weeks. But back to this week, Crowell and Duke Johnson should be able to have success like the first four weeks. The Titans are ranked 14th in the NFL in rush defense giving up just under 100 yards per game. They are also 20th in yards per rushes with 4.2 yards per carry.

Cody Kessler will be starting at quarterback this week with either Josh McCown or rookie Kevin Hogan as the backup. The Browns might struggle in the pass game for a number of reasons. First off the Titans are ranked 9th in the NFL in passing defense (222 yards per game). They are also tied for 5th in interceptions with six on the year. The Titans are also tied for 9th in the sack category with 12, which doesn't fair well for the Browns since their offensive line is going to be lacking their left guard.

Another reason the passing game might struggle is Kessler's injury. Even though the play calling will likely be the same with "slants, quick outs, and check downs". It remains to be seen if Kessler can make those throws with the injury, and be able to take a hit while reading a defense.

How the Browns can have success is fairly simple and its the same game plan every week. Control the clock. In the games they were in, mainly against the Ravens, Dolphins, and Redskins, the Browns did a great job running the ball and keeping the opposing team's offense off the field. The other key for the Browns to have success is to NOT turn the ball over. Turnovers killed them against the Ravens and Redskins. But if they win the turn over battle the Browns might sneak out of Nashville with a win. Its going to be a tough task but from what we've seen from Hue Jackson so far, the Browns will be prepared this week.

Browns Defense vs Titans Offense

This is were the game could get a little lopsided. The Titans are really good at running the ball and the Browns aren't that good at stopping it. The Titans rushing attack is headlined by DeMarco Murray, who is second in the NFL in rushing yards with 461 yards and also has three touchdowns. But its not just Murray in the run game, Derrick Henry spells Murray at times for short yardage plays, and Quarterback Marcus Mariota has 132 rushing yards on 20 attempts and a touchdown. The Browns will need to sell out to stop the run and keep a linebacker in during passing downs to spy on Mariota.

The passing offense isn't that great. They average 209 yards through the air, which is 28th in the NFL. The Titans use DeMarco Murray as a pass catcher a ton. He leads the team in catches with 24. They also have a top tier tight end in Delanie Walker who has 16 catches for 225 yards and 2 touchdowns.    The Browns have had a tough time covering opponents tight ends this year and one of the keys of the Browns to get this win is to stop Walker. Stopping Walker will force the check down passes to Murray and force the Titans' wide receivers (Andre Johnson, Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe) to beat them. Let's hope Joe Haden's injury doesn't prevent him from playing because the Browns really need him this week.

Five Guys To Watch

Isaiah Crowell: Crowell had his first bad game of the year, if he can put it behind him and ball out this will really show the growth of him and this team in general.

Andrew Hawkins: The Titans will try and take away Terrelle Pryor and Gary Barnidge so Andrew Hawkins has a great opportunity to ball out. Hawkins and Kessler seem to have some chemistry going whether its in the red zone like last week, or with drag and out routes like in previous weeks.

Danny Shelton: Shelton is the nose of the defense and he will need to set the tone in the run defense. If Shelton has a bad game then the Browns don't have a chance to stop the run which will result in the Browns losing.

DeMario Davis: Davis is one of the leaders on this team and has played really well. Davis is going to be important not just in the run game, but in the pass game. Not just covering Murray or Walker but spying on Mariota which might be the most important job.

Hue Jackson: Yes the head coach is someone we should watch. The Browns do a solid job in the first half of games, but struggle during the second half. I'm going to watch out for second half adjustments by the Browns and hopefully they can get points because of them. Also, the Art Briles controversy or whatever, I''m curious to see how he handles "on field" stuff with all the "off field' surrounding him. Also Jackson is running out of winnable games and another loss could be one step closer to "losing" this team. I don't think that would happen, but starting 0-6 isn't a good look...even if its in a rebuilding year. This team needs an actual victory not a moral one.

Injury Report
Weather Report
Betting Line: Tennessee -7

Prediction: 28-24 Titans

My heart wants to pick the Browns, but my head says no. It will be a watchable game, but a late turnover by the Browns will shift momentum to the Titans. Kessler will play like he has in his first three games. And I think Crowell will have a bounce back game, but the Browns won't be able to come back from adversity in this game which will result in a loss. 0-6 sucks but we will be one week close to the end of the year and the draft in April. Also the Cavs start in two weeks, Ohio State is arguably the best team in the nation, and the Indians are in the don't feel bad Browns fans, stay positive!!!

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