After losing mysteriously to Las Vegas before their bye, the Cleveland Browns have won three in a row to sit at 8-3, in second place in the AFC North and currently in possession of one of the wild card playoff positions in the conference. Those three wins have come against unimpressive teams, as they have beaten Houston and Philadelphia at home and then needed to stave off a comeback to beat Jacksonville on the road this past Sunday.
Next up is a real test from the Tennessee Titans, also 8-3, winners of two in a row – but just three of their last six. The real shocker was a loss to Cincinnati on November 1; since then, they have beaten Chicago and Baltimore and split a pair of games with the Colts. Those two games against Indianapolis have shown both the worst and the best of Tennessee, perhaps demonstrating the inconsistencies that remain a maddening part of the team.
Who will win this showdown? Don’t miss our preview.
When: Sunday, December 6, 2020, 1:00 pm ET
Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville
Radio: ESPN 850 AM Cleveland / ESPN 680 AM Nashville
JAZZ Sports Odds: Titans -6 / Total 54*
Why the Browns Will Win
Cleveland has won three of their last four on the road, and the return of Nick Chubb to the lineup has established the Browns firmly as a run-first offense. Baker Mayfield has a decent 17:7 TD:INT ratio, but he does best when he can pass out of a play-action set, which means that he needs Chubb and Kareem Hunt to set the tone with a pounding running game. Chubb has 719 yards and six touchdowns despite missing four games with injury. Jarvis Landry has picked up the slack at wide receiver with Odell Beckham Jr done for the year, and Rashard Higgins has come on too, with 19 catches so far.
On defense, the Browns permit 26 points per game. Myles Garrett has 9 ½ sacks, so Ryan Tannehill will need to get rid of the ball quickly, but the Browns down the field give up too many big pass plays. The Browns are underdogs here, but the Titans have only covered twice in their last seven games as a favorite. They tend to do better with their backs against the wall, so it will be interesting to see if beating the Colts leads them to slide back into their less intense ways.
Why the Titans Will Win
Ryan Tannehill has excelled in ball security, posting a 23:4 TD:INT ratio. His top targets have been A.J. Brown and Corey Davis, but the real story of the Titan offense is Derrick Henry, who has run for 1,257 yards and a dozen touchdowns in 11 games. On defense, the Titans permit 25.9 points per game. Amani Hooker leads the team with three picks, and Harold Landry III has 4 ½ sacks.
Tennessee has covered just once in their last five home games against the Browns and just three times in their last ten games on a grass field. However, Derrick Henry is back on a tear, and I’m not sure if the Browns are the team to stop him.
The Final Word
It’s fun watching both of these teams slug it out with old-school, smashmouth football that tries to run the ball down the opponent’s throat. Cleveland has had an impressive season, but the Titans seem to be a level higher right now. I have the Titans winning on a bruising afternoon.
*Odds are subject to change.