On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns will travel down south to play the Tennessee Titans in Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season. Throughout the offseason, the Browns have been one of the most-hyped teams, but you can’t count out the Titans, who are coming off two consecutive winning seasons. Kickoff for their season opener is set for 1:00 P.M ET and fans can watch live on CBS.
Cleveland, who many see as a postseason team in 2019, won three of four games in the preseason. Their defense was stellar throughout the four-game stretch, never allowing more than 20 points. As for Tennessee, the Titans went 2-2 in the preseason, though their schedule was among the most difficult in all of football.
In their last four meetings, the two teams have split with two wins apiece. Baker Mayfield hasn’t faced the Titans yet but Marcus Mariota has been part of their last three meetings, going 2-1. In his lone loss, Mariota was outdueled by Johnny Manziel on September 20th, 2015.
Titans Hope For Another Winning Season
There are a lot of good football teams getting ready for Week 1, but few are as underrated as the Tennessee Titans. They’re coming off back-to-back winning seasons, the latter under head coach Mike Vrabel, and still, people think their style doesn’t translate to today’s game.
In my opinion, they’re a team that’s ready to really pop, not go in the other direction. After all, so much hinges on the quarterback position and they made massive improvements at the position. Last year, their Week 17 game was essentially a playoff game, but Blaine Gabbert, in for an injured Mariota, couldn’t get the job done. Gabbert, it should be noted, is gone now because Mariota’s injury history requires a legitimate insurance policy. Enter Ryan Tannehill, a guy who started 86 games between 2012-18, posting a very respectable 87 QB Rating. By comparison, Gabbert has a 71.7 career QB Rating.
Expect Tennessee to continue playing old-school football this year. Their defense, coming off a 2018 campaign where they allowed just 16.1 points per game, is a strength and a unit they can rely on. The same goes for their backfield. Derrick Henry, who had career-bests last year in most categories, will be the No. 1 option and Dion Lewis is an above-average back in passing situations.
Wide receiver is a question mark but they did bring Adam Humphries in from Tampa Bay in the offseason. Humphries had a career-high 76 catches last season and will be a great safety valve in the slot for the offense.
Browns Have Tons of Hype
The Cleveland Browns are the complete opposite of Tennessee. Rather than putting their head down and taking the old-school route, the Browns are brash, loud, and from the looks of it, a team that’s ready to put up a lot of points on offense.
Cleveland’s offense was exciting last year when Baker Mayfield took over and they only added to their talent pool this offseason. Alongside Jarvis Landry, their top wideout from last year, is his former LSU teammate, Odell Beckham Jr., who’s arguably one of the five best receivers in the league. In their backfield, Nick Chubb is back and he’ll likely snag his first 1000-yard season this year. Disgraced former Pro Bowler Kareem Hunt is also in Cleveland but he’ll miss the first eight games of the season.
On defense, the Browns also brought in a bunch of talent. Notable additions include defensive end Olivier Vernon, a 2018 Pro Bowler, and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, a 2014 Pro Bowler. The two will play next to superstar defensive end Myles Garrett to make one of the best d-lines in football.
“He does a good job of managing the game,” Browns defensive coordinator Steve Wilks said Thursday of Mariota. “He is not going to try to force things in there. He is going to check it down, but he will take his shots down the field. It comes off the play action.” Wilks on defending Mariota.
All that said, it remains to be seen if all these big personalities can get along for an entire season. Under a veteran coach, it wouldn’t be as much of a question mark but Cleveland hired Freddie Kitchens in the offseason, a guy who’s never done the job at any level.
- 9-20 ATS in their last 29 home games.
- 5-14-2 ATS in their last 21 games in Week 1.
- 5-1 ATS in their last 6 September games.
- 5-0 ATS in their last 5 road games vs. non-division opponents.
- 4-0 SU in their last 4 games with Mariota starting.