Tennessee Titans vs. Cleveland Browns: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 19, 2017 at 2:33 PM
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TENNESSEE TITANS (3-3) AT CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-6)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Paul Brown Stadium. TV: CBS, Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta.

SERIES HISTORY: 65th regular-season meeting. Browns lead series, 35-29. Three years ago, the Browns beat the Titans 29-28 after trailing 28-3 in the second quarter. It remains the largest comeback by a road team in NFL history.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Titans have been notorious for slow starts this season, but that formula might not be a good idea against the winless Browns. The Titans need to start fast, so as not to give the Browns any signs of early life. Tennessee has been guilty of missing 2-foot putts before, losing games they should win. They need to avoid that by running the ball effectively to keep Cleveland's pass rush from getting to Marcus Mariota and set themselves up with some scoring chances.

Mariota has been dealing with a hamstring that has forced him to cut down his mobility. It is a sharp contrast for the Browns' defense after facing mobile Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson last week. If the Browns' secondary can hold pass coverage an extra second, the pass rush will have time to get to Mariota, cut down on the Titans' point production and not force the struggling offense to score 30 points. Three of the Browns' first six opponents have scored at least 31.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--Titans TE Delanie Walker vs. Browns LB Jamie Collins. Collins will be playing his second straight game after returning from a concussion. He is Cleveland's best coverage linebacker, but he might need help guarding Walker. Walker leads the Titans with 25 catches for 261 yards. Walker has not scored a touchdown this season.

--Browns LT Joe Thomas vs. Titans LB Brian Orakpo. Thomas is still the gold standard of left tackles in the NFL. Orakpo was the Titans' top pass rusher a year ago, but is off to a slow start. He will have to be on his game to get past Thomas and get to Browns rookie QB Deshone Kizer on Sunday.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Titans K Ryan Succop. Succop was the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after making five field goals Monday night and setting, then extending, a record with 51 straight field goals made from inside 50 yards. Succop has not missed a kick inside 50 since the 2014 season, when he missed one against the New York Giants.

FAST FACTS: Titans QB Marcus Mariota passed for 306 yards and a TD last week. He has passed for 541 yards (270.5 per game) and five TDs, with one interception, and rushed for 83 yards in two career meetings. He is one of six QBs with 7,000 passing yards (7,342) and 700 rushing yards (717) since entering league in 2015. ... RB DeMarco Murray had 87 scrimmage yards and a rushing TD last week. He scored a rushing TD in the last meeting. Since entering the league in 2011, he has 45 rushing TDs, the fifth most in the NFL. ... LB Wesley Woodyard has 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble in the past four meetings. ... Browns QB DeShone Kizer is one of four NFL QBs with 125 rushing yards (126) and two rushing TDs (2) this season. ... OT Joe Thomas has started 166 consecutive games since entering league in 2007, the longest active streak among NFL offensive linemen. ... CB Jason McCourty had a 56-yard interception return TD last week and is aiming for his third game in a row with an interception. He is tied for second in the NFL with three interceptions and nine passes defensed. He appeared in 108 games (90 starts) and had 13 interceptions in eight seasons with Tennessee (2009-16).

PREDICTION: Will the Titans get caught looking ahead to the bye week and not focus on the winless Browns? They have botched a couple of games in the last couple of seasons as road favorites and are coming off a big Monday night win over Indianapolis, so don't be surprised if this is close at the end.

OUR PICK: Titans, 29-24.

--Bucky Dent

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