The game will be broadcast on CBS and, if you want to punish yourself, kick off is set for 1 p.m. EST.
The Game: Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns (+6)
The Browns and Titans were in the same division from 1970 to 2001, the old AFC Central. The Titans were, of course, the Houston Oilers for much of that rivalry. They’ve played 65 games with the Browns holding a 35-30 advantage.
They met last season on October 16, 2016 with the Titans winning 28-26. Marcus Mariota outdueled Cody Kessler, throwing for 284 yards, three touchdowns and one pick. Kessler was 26 of 41 for 336 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
TENNESSEE TITANS (3-3)
After losing two straight games thanks to an injured and absent Marcus Mariota, the quarterback made his triumphant return last week in a 36-22 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Mariota, slowed by a hamstring injury, did all his damage from the pocket and it was quite a display. He finished 23 of 32 for 306 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The Titans unleashed both their running backs on the Colts and piled up 168 total yards on the ground. Derek Henry carried the ball 19 times for 131 yards and a touchdown. DeMarco Murray had 12 carries for 40 yards and a score.
With Mariota finding a home in the pocket, it’s no surprise that his best route runner, Eric Decker, benefited in the passing game. Decker caught seven passes for 88 yards. Rishard Matthews had four catches for 69 yards and rookie Taywan Taylor caught two for 61 yards and most of that came off a 53 yard touchdown.
On defense, the Titans have to be concerned with their lack of a consistent pass rush this season. They managed just one sack and two stops in the backfield last week.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-6)
Great news, everybody! DeShone Kizer is back as the Browns starting quarterback. So maybe those Tennessee pass rushing woes will be over for at least a week. There’s been a lot of news coming out of Cleveland about Kizer and they all seem like Onion headlines.
First, Kizer told reporters that his benching for Kevin Hogan last week “sparked his competitive juices.” This is a guy that went 4-8 at a senior at Notre Dame and he’s talking “competitive juices?” He barely even won that starting job as a senior and was called out by his own shitty coach after the season that he wasn’t ready for the NFL. Brian Kelly, a guy who isn’t “ready” to run a run a Denny’s kitchen, is saying you’re bad at your job. Damn.
Then, to make everything even more ridiculous, Kizer called a players only offensive meeting where he demanded the entire unit do more, make fewer mistakes and open up communication. Kizer (and the Browns for that matter) has yet to win a game and while this is a young squad and you want your QB to consider himself the leader of the team, a guy coming right off a benching is probably not going to spark a lot of confidence by huddling up and discussing his feelings journal. Kizer told reporters the meeting was about “doing more.” OK, Kizer. How about you do more than complete 50.9 percent of your passes? Or, you know, do more than throw three times as many interceptions as touchdowns?
Last week, Hogan was terrible as all the Browns’ quarterbacks have been. He went 20 of 37 for 140 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. As high as head coach Hue Jackson was on Cody Kessler last season, I’m surprised he’s not shuffled him back into the mix. If Kizer takes a mighty shit atop the bed sheets in this game, don’t be surprised to see the former USC signal caller get the elbow tap from the bullpen.
Back in the preseason with Brock Osweiler, of all people, on the Browns’ roster I was convinced they wouldn’t struggle as bad this year. Then, they cut Osweiler, handed the keys to Kizer, and haven’t won a game since Barack Obama was president. It’ll be more of the same this week. Titans 31, Browns 20
Straight up: 0-1
Against the spread: 0-1
Straight up: 5-9
Against the spread: 5-9
Straight up: 48-43
Against the spread: 43-48
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