Cleveland Browns (0-5 SU, 1-4 ATS) vs. Tennessee Titans (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS)
NFL Week 6
Date/Time: Sunday, October 16, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CLE +7/TEN -7
Over/Under Total: 43.5
The Cleveland Browns come to Nashville to face the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The Browns are searching for their first win of the season and it wont be easy against a Titans bunch that won on the road against the Dolphins, 30-17, on Sunday for their second win of the year. They know theyre a home-win over the winless Browns away from getting to .500, which would offer some hope for the rest of the season in the wide open AFC South. Cleveland was unlucky to have Tom Bradys return scheduled for them on Sunday, as they lost 33-13. Theyve covered the spread just once this season.
The Browns have a lot of problems, but whats new? For a team already looking at a long season, its doubly-difficult when quarterbacks are dropping out left and right. Theyve had five different players behind center this season through just five games. On Sunday, rookie Cody Kessler made his second start, leaving the game early with chest and rib issues. Charlie Whitehurst took over, but hyper-extended his knee, leaving it up to former college quarterback and current receiver Terrelle Pryor. Kessler is listed as probable and looks to be a go.
At the end of the day, an 0-5 record and a 1-4 ATS mark is what speaks loudest. But if looking beyond the haze a bit, we see a Browns offense with a little most potential than in the recent past. It didnt manifest on Sunday, but RB Isaiah Crowell has given the run-game a big boost with a 5.6 average per run. Duke Johnson, Jr. has provided some good runs too. Kessler at least has some upside, working with Pryor and TE Gary Barnidge. Not having Josh Gordon available and promising rookie receiver Corey Coleman being out for a few more games doesnt help. Even with all the issues, injuries, and inconsistent play, theyve been dangerous in spots, albeit not over four quarters of play. Its just when betting against Cleveland, theres going to be a spread to cover and if they can get on the board quickly a few times, it makes it tough. Granted, that scenario has played out just once this season.
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There is some talent on the Cleveland defense, but theyre not what you would call good. They rank in the bottom in most areas. Theyve recovered just one fumble this season and other than Jamar Taylor and Joe Haden picking off two passes each, the impact on this side of the ball has been minimal. The pass-rush hasnt been up to snuff. They have a strong middle, led by Demario Davis, Emmanuel Ogbah, and Christian Kirksey. Carl Nassib showed some pass-rush pop before getting hurt and is now back. They hope to find some answers against Tennessee.
The Titans look to give the fans something to cheer about this week. Both of their wins have been on the road, a positive development for a team that hasnt been able to buy a road win in the past few seasons. After a rough outing in a loss to the Texans in week four, Marcus Mariota and this whole offense came to life for the big road win over the Dolphins. We see some things starting to take shape on both sides of the ball for a team that looks to take a big step forward this season. But with those steps come stumbles, as the Titans are still ironing out a lot of different things. As of now, theyre pretty inconsistent and hardly a bankable force, even at home against a winless Browns bunch.
Against the Dolphins on the road, Tennessee looked like the offense people who liked their chances would describe before the season to show whyd theyd be better. Mariota was efficient with no picks and three TD throws. In the last three games, RB DeMarco Murray has exploded and become a real force, in addition to becoming a reliable short-pass option for Mariota. Rookie Derrick Henry has been effective in spots, as well, with Mariota a constant threat with his legs. The aerial attack is decent with a good tight end in Delanie Walker, along with Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe coming around in their first years in this offense. Even old Andre Johnson has two TDs. But they are more of a running team. Making it all come together is a line that is keeping Mariota out of trouble, while helping spring loose the backs.
The Tennessee defense hasnt been that bad, as they made a big contribution to the win over Miami on Sunday. Theyve been getting an improved pass-rush, with Brian Orakpo at 6 sacks already. The secondary has been getting better, with Jason McCourty and Parrish Cox each adding two picks to the cause. Through five games, theyre giving up a tick over 20 points a game. Theyve been pretty consistent throughout the season. Theyre not all that dynamic. Nothing about this D is going to make headlines. But theyre solid in a consistent way that can really pay off for a young team trying to make some headway in this league.
Some teams could overlook Cleveland this season. Still, the Titans might not be one of those teams. Their recent history is even worse than the Browns. They havent won at home this season, which could produce a more-urgent vibe. And they just dont have the status or disposition of a team that can take any team for granted. Expect a robust Titans effort this week. Still, other than the 30-spot they put on Miami last week, their previous high-point total was 20. With a big spread, that could put them in a position where their margin for error is quite slim. The Browns fail to inspire much confidence, but so does laying a TD on a Titans team still finding its way. Ill take the points.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Cleveland Browns plus 7 points.
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