Cleveland Browns (8-3 4-7 ATS) at Tennessee Titans (8-3 5-6 ATS)
In a key AFC battle in Music City, the Tennessee Titans play host to the Cleveland Browns. The Titans are a 5.5-point home favorite with the total sitting at 54.
The public has backed the Titans in the early going, as they opened as a 3.5-point favorite and as of Tuesday are a 5.5-point favorite.
The Browns have won three in a row and four of their last five games but are they as good as their 8-3 record? Tough call, as their lone win against a team with a winning record, came several weeks ago against the Colts. The team needed a blocked pass on a 2-point conversion to avoid going to overtime in beating the one-win Jacksonville Jaguars 27-25 in their last game.
The Titans have won two in a row and those wins have come against the playoff-contending teams of the Baltimore Ravens and Colts. They beat the Colts in their last game 45-26, which gave them a one-game lead as the top team in the AFC South.
Run defense will be vital in this game for both teams, as the Browns lead the league in rushing yards per game and the Titans rank third.
These teams met last in last season’s opener in Cleveland where the Titans beat the Browns 43-13.
The Browns failed to cover in last season’s home games against the Titans but they are 3-1-1 ATS in their last five games facing them in Tennessee.
This Game May Show a Lot
In the Browns last five games they have four wins and those teams have a total of 10 wins. Not only that, but the four games were decided by an average winning margin of 3.2 ppg. Yeah, this game may show if the Browns are legit or not.
In the Browns win over Jax in their last game, the Browns outgained the Jags 459 yards to 375 yards but had the game’s only turnover and needed the late stop to preserve the W.
While Baker Mayfield gets most of the press for Cleveland the run game ranks tops in the NFL and Nick Chubb rushed for 144 yards averaging 7.6 yards per carry in the last game. He has topped the 100+ yard rushing mark in five of his last six games including the last three games averaging 128 yards per game.
After throwing no TD and no INT in three straight games Mayfield passed for 258 yards with two TD and no picks in the win over Jax. Jarvis Landry had 144 receiving yards in the win last week while his previous season-high was 88 yards.
Mayfield has to avoid the turnover, he had three INT in last season’s loss to the Titans and will face a Tennessee defense, whose strength is defending the run, which does not bode well for Cleveland.
Can the Browns Stop Henry?
The big question for Cleveland in this big game is can they stop NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry? In the last game against the Colts, he rushed for 178 yards and three TD after rushing for 133 yards in the previous game. The Browns gave up 140 rushing yards in the win over the Jags and their run defense has been pretty solid on the season.
Ryan Tannehill (2,608 yards 23 TD 4 INT) has quietly put together a solid season and ranks fifth in the league in QBR. He has only been picked off one time in his last four games and has been a great game manager.
On the season the Titans are 4-2 at home and the Browns are 3-2 on the road.
While the Browns are only 1-5 ATS in their last five games and 1-10 ATS in their last 11 road games. However, the Titans have only covered the spread in two of their last seven games as a favorite.
I think the Browns are a decent team but not as good as their 8-3 record indicates. On the other side of the coin, the Titans are a legit threat to return to the conference title game. The Browns will ride Chubb and give Tennessee a game but even giving 5.5 points Tennessee will win and cover behind another big game from Henry.
PICK: Titans -5.5