Matchup Analysis: Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns

Vegas Prediction

Vegas says: Titans 19, Browns 25

FBG Projections

TeamRushYardsTDCompAttPass YdTDINT

Titans Rushing offense

Bad matchup vs. the Browns defense.

Derrick Henry will lead the Titans backfield with limited competition for touches after his spectacular finish to the 2018 season. He has been sidelined for most of the preseason with a calf injury, but Henry returned to practice last week and is on track to start in Week 1. Henry underwhelmed for most of the 2018 season, failing to exceed 60 rushing yards in a game until his breakout performances in Weeks 15 and 16 where he combined for 408 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. Henry closed the season with four weeks of solid performances that far surpassed anything he had done until that point, and the Titans coaching staff will hope to continue with that strong focus on the running game. Dion Lewis is Henry’s top competition for touches. Lewis did work with the first team all throughout the preseason, but he never looked sharp running the ball and has always been known more so for his pass-catching and blocking skillset. The offensive line is where things will be tricky for this rushing offense. Both starting guards from 2018 are no longer with the team, and while free-agent addition Rodger Saffold should be a talent upgrade at left guard, he has looked subpar in the preseason. The tackle position is more stable, however, the Titans will be without starting left tackle Taylor Lewan until Week 5 as he serves a suspension. Dennis Kelly is a fine backup and Jack Conklin has put together a solid preseason on the other side at right tackle, but this group has looked far from impressive in their dress rehearsals during the preseason.

The Browns front four makes for one of the most dynamic and exciting defensive lines coming into this 2019 season, thanks in part to a few key offseason acquisitions. Sheldon Richardson comes over from the Vikings to really anchor the interior of this defensive line. Richardson helped make the Vikings on of the most feared run defenses in football last season. Defensive end Olivier Vernon is the other key addition to this group, coming from the Giants. While Vernon may not stack up to the pass-rushing ability of Myles Garrett, his skillset and experience should allow him to excel in run defense as he is a perfect fit for the Browns scheme. Linebacker is not exactly a strong suit for the Browns, but Joe Schobert has played well in the preseason and should be a very serviceable option in the middle of the field. This week should be a challenge for the Titans offensive line based on the lack of cohesion we have seen through the preseason along with the absence of Taylor Lewan.

Titans Passing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Browns defense.

Marcus Mariota has struggled throughout this year’s preseason but is still on track to lead the Titans under center in Week 1. Backup Ryan Tannehill has made the most of his opportunities this preseason, so Mariota will have to perform to fend off the Tannehill replacement talk. It is tough to assign all the blame on Mariota for the Titans’ preseason woes, as the offensive line has struggled and he has yet to have all offensive weapons available to him due to various injuries. As of last week, though, the full starting unit was practicing together and appears to be in good health. Corey Davis will be looking for his first 1,000 receiving yard season as the top wide-out for the Titans. He was heavily targeted in 2018 and expects much of the same this season despite a different cast of characters around him with Adam Humphries coming via free agency and A.J. Brown added via the draft. Humphries will serve as the lead possession receiver while A.J. Brown should line up opposite Davis while competing with Tajae Sharpe for playing time. Brown was dealing with a hamstring injury throughout the preseason, but he is ready to go for this week. Veteran tight end Delanie Walker also returns healthy after missing most of 2018 with a serious ankle injury from which he is just now recovering.

The Browns passing defense enters 2019 anchored by a strong pass rush and top tier cornerback to keep opposing passing offenses in check this season. This defensive line is their key strength and has been bolstered by the additions of Sheldon Richardson at tackle and Olivier Vernon on the edge. Both add experience and are clear talent upgrades to what was already a solid defensive line. Myles Garrett looks to continue the upward trend of his career after finishing with 13.5 sacks in 2018 (7th overall)--over a third of the total sacks for this defense. This Browns pass rush should be a problem for the Titans offensive line that has struggled on all levels throughout the preseason. In the secondary, Denzel Ward is one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL and should be focusing on Corey Davis for much of this game. Davis has not performed well under tough coverage and Ward never allowed more than 50 receiving yards to a wide receiver he shadowed in 2018. Terrance Mitchell has beat out Greedy Williams for the starting role opposite Ward and should be another tough matchup for AJ Brown and Tajae Sharpe opposite Davis. Adam Humphries likely draws the best matchup amongst Titans wide receivers coming out of the slot against T.J. Carrie. The Browns did allow over 1,000 receiving yards to tight ends in 2018, and Delanie Walker is a favorite target in this Titans passing offense. If Walker can get matched up against one of the weaker Browns linebackers, it could be a big play over the middle waiting to happen.

Browns Rushing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Titans defense.

The Browns rushing offense is all set to start this season with their bell-cow running back Nick Chubb. With the preseason trade of Duke Johnson Jr. to the Texans, Chubb is the clear lead back with very little competition until Kareem Hunt returns from suspension in Week 9. Chubb has had a solid preseason and showed he can handle a heavy workload with success throughout his rookie campaign in 2018 as he finished just four yards short of the 1,000 rushing yard mark while starting for effectively just two-thirds of the season. The Browns offensive line introduces the primary cause for question for this rushing offense. Left tackle Greg Robinson showed promise in 2018 and will have high expectations this season. The departure of starting right guard Kevin Zeitler has had cause for concern though, as current projected starter Eric Kush is certainly a downgrade while the 2018 second-round draft pick Austin Corbett continues to struggle with his move to guard as he starts in a backup role to Kush. This unit will be tested early against the Titans, who return most of what was one of the better run defenses in football from 2018.

The Titans run defense is a relatively middling unit with upside coming into 2019. The core of this defense is defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, who is one of the best run-stoppers in the NFL . Casey suffered a late-season MCL injury but appears to be on track with his recovery to start in Week 1. Linebacker is where things could be a problem for the Titans, as they expect to roll out the young duo of Jayon Brown and Rashaad Evans with veteran Wesley Woodyard working in intermittently--particularly against the run. Neither Brown nor Evans played particularly well against the run last season, but both have shown strong development during the preseason while Woodyard is a strong option when used on clear rushing downs. With question marks on the Browns offensive line, Nick Chubb could have some tighter gaps to run through this week. The performance of these Titans linebackers will ultimately be key to this group’s effectiveness against the run.

Browns Passing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Titans defense.

Baker Mayfield has a lot to be happy about as the starting quarterback for the Browns coming into this season. After breaking the NFL’s all-time rookie record for touchdown passes in 2018, Mayfield comes into 2019 with an even better array of weapons after the massive offseason addition of Odell Beckham Jr. at wide receiver. This will be the first time Beckham Jr. is catching passes in the NFL from a non-Manning quarterback, and while he may not be force-fed like he was in New York, Beckham should certainly see plenty of quality opportunities. The addition of Beckham Jr. will allow his college teammate Jarvis Landry to move back into the slot role in which he has thrived for much of his career. Landry has shown great chemistry with Mayfield throughout the preseason and will enjoy the lighter cornerback coverage with Beckham Jr. drawing all the focus. Third receiver Rashad Higgins is also here to provide a downfield threat, while tight end David Njoku returns as a key red-zone option. Njoku has been nursing a knee injury throughout the preseason, but barring any setbacks he should be in the lineup this week.

The Titans secondary was relatively inconsistent in 2018 despite allowing the sixth-fewest passing yards per game (216.9) to close the year. This entire unit returns intact, led by the league’s now top-paid safety Kevin Byard. Most of his attention will likely be focused on keeping Odell Beckham Jr. in check, which will still be a tall task despite Byard’s elite playmaking ability. The Titans cornerbacks are tough to read, particularly Adoree Jackson who has had up and down games throughout his short career. Jackson may be a smaller defensive back which can sometimes impact his ability to finish tackles, but plays with aggression and can blanket opposing wide receivers. Both Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler are very serviceable cornerbacks, but Butler’s inconsistency can also be maddening. After a terrible start to 2018, Butler closed out the year as one of the better cornerbacks in the league. He will see a lot of Beckham Jr. this week though--a matchup in which Beckham Jr. should have the advantage. While the Titans defense overall has looked good this preseason, the Browns may have one of the top receiving corps in football and should give this Titans secondary a significant challenge to start the season.

Derrick Henry (FanDuel: $6800, DraftKings: $5900)

1PROJ-Dodds16690.61.17011.212.311.8 (H=21)12.3 (H=26)
1PROJ-Tremblay15700.70.75011.712.412 (H=21)12.4 (H=26)
1PROJ-Bloom17600.41.0609109.5 (H=14)10 (H=18)

Corey Davis (FanDuel: $6200, DraftKings: $4900)

1PROJ-Dodds4.1510.30006.9119 (H=14)11 (H=25)
1PROJ-Tremblay3.2440.20205.897.4 (H=10)9 (H=18)
1PROJ-Bloom3.0410.30005.98.97.4 (H=10)8.9 (H=17)

Adam Humphries (FanDuel: $5200, DraftKings: $4000)

1PROJ-Dodds3.4350.20004.78.16.5 (H=9)8.2 (H=19)
1PROJ-Tremblay2.5280.20104.16.65.4 (H=7)6.7 (H=13)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0370.20004.98.97 (H=11)9 (H=22)

A.J. Brown (FanDuel: $5100, DraftKings: $3500)

1PROJ-Dodds2.0270.10003.35.34.3 (H=4)5.3 (H=10)
1PROJ-Tremblay2.3300.20004.26.55.4 (H=7)6.5 (H=14)
1PROJ-Bloom2.0210.10002.74.73.7 (H=3)4.7 (H=8)

Geoff Swaim (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $2900)

1PROJ-Dodds2.3220.346.35.2 (H=7)6.3 (H=16)
1PROJ-Tremblay2.3230. (H=6)5.8 (H=14)
1PROJ-Bloom2.0180. (H=3)4.4 (H=8)

Jonnu Smith (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2700)

1PROJ-Dodds0.7700.71.41 (H=0)1.4 (H=1)
1PROJ-Tremblay0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)
1PROJ-Bloom0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Anthony Firkser (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2500)

1PROJ-Dodds0.6600.61.20.9 (H=0)1.2 (H=1)
1PROJ-Tremblay0.3300.30.60.4 (H=0)0.6 (H=0)
1PROJ-Bloom0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Greg Joseph (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)


Tennessee Titans (FanDuel: $3700, DraftKings: $2600)

1PROJ-Dodds253632.20.90.500. (H=15)6.9 (H=21)
1PROJ-Tremblay25.53712.210.400. (H=16)7.2 (H=23)

Baker Mayfield (FanDuel: $7900, DraftKings: $6400)

1PROJ-Dodds23342601.80.93120. (H=49)21.1 (H=61)
1PROJ-Tremblay21342441.614130.119.519.519.5 (H=43)19.5 (H=53)
1PROJ-Bloom213126120.73100.1222222 (H=53)22 (H=66)

Case Keenum (FanDuel: $6200, DraftKings: $4900)

1PROJ-Dodds203221210.9290. (H=35)15.2 (H=45)
1PROJ-Tremblay20332261.10.95150.217.517.517.5 (H=45)17.5 (H=58)
1PROJ-Bloom17322310.81.23100. (H=35)15.2 (H=45)

Nick Chubb (FanDuel: $7400, DraftKings: $6400)

1PROJ-Dodds20920.62.5210.115.51816.8 (H=35)18 (H=46)
1PROJ-Tremblay221030.82.3180.117.519.818.7 (H=43)19.8 (H=55)
1PROJ-Bloom22910.72.0170.115.617.616.6 (H=35)17.6 (H=44)

Dontrell Hilliard (FanDuel: $4800, DraftKings: $3000)

1PROJ-Dodds2701.6150. (H=4)4.5 (H=9)
1PROJ-Tremblay280.12.6220. (H=8)6.9 (H=18)
1PROJ-Bloom0001. (H=1)2.4 (H=3)

DErnest Johnson (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3000)

1PROJ-Dodds280.10.0001.41.41.4 (H=0)1.4 (H=1)
1PROJ-Tremblay0000.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)
1PROJ-Bloom1300.0000.30.30.3 (H=0)0.3 (H=0)

Odell Beckham (FanDuel: $8200, DraftKings: $8100)

1PROJ-Dodds5.7780.513011.116.814 (H=23)16.8 (H=32)
1PROJ-Tremblay6.2850.603012.418.615.5 (H=28)18.6 (H=39)
1PROJ-Bloom5.0740.500010.415.412.9 (H=20)15.4 (H=28)

Jarvis Landry (FanDuel: $6300, DraftKings: $5600)

1PROJ-Dodds4.4550.41308.212.610.4 (H=18)12.6 (H=28)
1PROJ-Tremblay3.8460.30106.510.38.4 (H=12)10.3 (H=20)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0540.51709.113.111.1 (H=20)13.1 (H=30)

Rashard Higgins (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3200)

1PROJ-Dodds3.0380.30005.68.67.1 (H=13)8.6 (H=25)
1PROJ-Tremblay1.8250.20003.75.54.6 (H=6)5.5 (H=11)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0600.500091311 (H=28)13 (H=53)

Taywan Taylor (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3100)

1PROJ-Dodds0.000000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)
1PROJ-Tremblay0.000000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)
1PROJ-Bloom0.000000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

David Njoku (FanDuel: $5800, DraftKings: $3700)

1PROJ-Dodds3.7430.36.19.88 (H=12)9.8 (H=28)
1PROJ-Tremblay3.0320.3586.5 (H=8)8 (H=19)
1PROJ-Bloom3.0410. (H=11)8.9 (H=23)

Austin Hooper (FanDuel: $5500, DraftKings: $3200)

1PROJ-Dodds3.6340.35.28.87 (H=10)8.8 (H=27)
1PROJ-Tremblay3.9340. (H=11)9.1 (H=28)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0330. (H=9)8.5 (H=25)

Austin Seibert (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)


Cleveland Browns (FanDuel: $4300, DraftKings: $3400)

1PROJ-Dodds20.73312.30.90.700. (H=20)8.9 (H=25)
1PROJ-Tremblay203231.80.80.800. (H=21)9.2 (H=27)