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If the Browns 9th ranked rushing defense can even somewhat neutralize Derrick Henry, they could win this game outright, let alone with all those points the oddsmakers are giving them.
Browns +5.5 (-110)
|Browns vs Titans Information|
|What||Cleveland Browns vs Tennessee Titans|
|Where||Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee|
|When||Sunday, December 6, 2020; 1:00 PM ET|
|How to watch||CBS|
By beating the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12, the 8-3 Cleveland Browns have clinched a winning season for the first time since 2007, and now freshman HC Kevin Stefanski’s crew must face another 8-3 team in the Titans, who are counting on their playmaking running back to plow over Cleveland’s banged-up defense.
After a 5-0 start to the season, it has been an up and down rides for these Tennessee Titans, their most recent 2-game win streak a definite “up,” and now they face a talent heavy Browns team that knows how to stop the run, a challenge that Titans running back Derrick Henry does not take lightly, right now the most productive at his position in the NFL.
These two AFC franchises have played each other 67 prior times (including 1 postseason game), with the Tennessee Titans winning 32 of those games and the Cleveland Browns winning 35 of the games.
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The Cleveland Browns have a once-in-a-lifetime tandem of running backs in their backfield, first with the quiet and effective Nick Chubb and then with the talkative and soft-handed Kareem Hunt, both backs capable of making defensive players miss and getting multiple yards after contact.
Chubb has only played in 7 games due to injury, and he is still tied for 6th most productive at his position, and Hunt is 9th on that same list that is led at the top by Titans Derrick Henry, who has already passed 1,250 yards of production on 256 carries in the eleven games in which he’s played.
The Browns’ defense is 9th best against the run, and the Titans D is 16th in that same category, so it will be a fun matchup to see which defense can better handle the other’s rushing attack and whether the Browns will thrive more in the fourth quarter with their two well-rested backs, given that one of them is usually on the sidelines while the other is attacking the field.
QB Ryan Tannehill came through when he was needed in Week 11 and completed almost 71 percent of his passes in that unlikely win over the Baltimore Ravens, final score 30-24.
But last week he dipped to completing 59 percent of his passes, the kind of inaccuracy that he posted in the four weeks prior to the Ravens win, as well.
The Titans need Tannehill to step up during this run to the postseason or they risk becoming a one-dimensional running team that will be much easier to game plan around.
One key factor that has helped the Browns win football games is their relentless pass rush led by star defensive end Myles Garrett, who this season has 9.5 sacks, 14 quarterback hits, a league-leading 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and 31 combined tackles, with 7 of those for a loss.
Garrett was out in Week 12 due to a positive COVID-19 test, and his absence against the Jacksonville Jaguars was felt, despite the Browns being able to win their 8th football game of the season.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski told the media on Monday that Garrett is “on track to be cleared Wednesday from the COVID-19 reserve list,” which means that he will likely play in Week 13 against the Titans and bring his ferocious sacking skills to Tennessee.
No doubt about it, the Titans do well when their star running back Derrick Henry does well, as evidenced by the man’s 3-touchdown performance in Week 12 against the banged-up Indianapolis Colts defense, Henry with 27 carries for 178 yards on top of catching 2 balls for another 7 yards.
Henry leads the league in rushing production, with 1,257 total yards on the ground, averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 114 yards on the ground per game, numbers that the Titans have come to depend on at the expense of their passing game at times.
Henry will face a Browns defense that only allows opponents to rush for 108 yards per game, so he and head coach Mike Vrabel and OC Arthur Smith will have to figure out how to game plan around the league’s 9th toughest rushing defense that could be getting back some of their missing playmakers.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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