Everyone loves to quote Bill Parcells: “You are what your record says you are.” Ah, yes, sports is filled with people repeating what someone else said. Well, in terms of record, the Titans are 1-3, a half a game worse than the Browns record of 1-2. Pretty even, judging by the Tao of Bill Parcells.
And what about Vegas? They opened this game with the Titans being favored by 3, 3 traditionally being the points you get just for being the home team, which the Titans are. The line has since dropped to 2, but, obviously, Vegas sees this as a toss up game, that these two teams are evenly matched.
Both teams have pretty bad defenses. The Browns rank 23rd (25.7) in points allowed per game, the Titans rank 27th (27.5). That’s a little odd as the Titans actually rank much higher than the Browns in pass defense (10th v 27th) and slightly better in run defense (22nd v 27th). But, since games are won and lost based on points and not yards per game, it’s fair to say, again, pretty even.
So do I expect the game to be close, the fourth straight game for the Browns that gets determined by a field goal?
No. I actually don’t think it’ll be a very close game at all.
When it comes to the offensive side of the game, the Browns do much better than the Titans. They are 16th in passing v the Titans 27th, 9th in rushing v 17th, and 13th in scoring v 30th.
The Titans started the season out strong, with a big upset win over the Kansas City Chiefs. They gave up only 10 points to the Chiefs, the team that just dropped 41 on New England last week. After that, though, things started going downhill quickly for Tennessee.
Here are the point totals they gave up the next 3 games, in chronological order: 26, 33, and 41. That’s 100 points in 3 games. 33 points a game. And their offensive scoring in that same period? 10, 7, 17; 34 total points, 11 points per game. 33-11.
Now, in their defense, they did lose to the Dallas Cowboys, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Indianapolis Colts. That could be three playoff teams by the time all is said and done.
I don’t care. They are a bad team. They have a new coaching staff. Their defense is run by our not-so-old friend Ray Horton, the guy we were so afraid we’d lose to a head coaching job because he would be so great here. Let’s not get into that.
The biggest problem I see them giving the Browns is their best receiving threat, tight end Delanie Walker. He leads the team in touchdowns (3) and yards receiving (317). And the Browns cover tight ends about as well as I would if I walked down out of the stands and put on a uniform. Luckily, they’re quarterbacked by the pedestrian Jake Locker. And the Titans’ line has given up 11 sacks. 11! In 4 games. Conversely, the Browns have given up 4 in 3 games.
Add to the fact that Cleveland has had an extra week to rest and practice, and I don’t care where this thing is being played, the Browns will win this game by 10. I’m going to say 27-17.
Let me say this: If I am wrong and the Browns do not win this game, I hope Mike Pettine knows one of those Doomsday Preppers with an underground bunker he can hide out in, because the fans are going to freak out. The team will then be 1-3 and any goodwill the team has built up with the fan base, as much as anyone can hope to build up with a single win, will be flushed down the toilet and sucked down the Cuyahoga River.
If they lose and Brian Hoyer disappears at the end of the game as he has in their other losses, people are going to be screaming for backup Johnny Manziel. If he disappears and they win? You probably won’t hear a sound.
Another thing said in sports that people repeat: Winning cures everything.
The Browns need to win this game. The Browns have no excuse to not win this game. I fully expect that they will.