Cleveland Browns (1-2 SU, 2-0-1 ATS) vs. Tennessee Titans (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS)
NFL Week 5
Date and Time: Sunday, October 5, 2014, 1:00 pm EST
Where: LP Field, Nashville, Tenn.
TV: CBS, DirecTV 713
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Cle. +1/Tenn. -1
Over/Under Total: 44.5
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With questions looming about who will be the starter for the Tennessee Titans when they host the Cleveland Browns at LP Field on Sunday, sportsbooks were forced to keep this game off the board up until Wednesday.
But when news broke that Jake Locker was upgraded to probable on Sunday, the Browns-Titans game was given life at all of the sportsbooks around Las Vegas and offshore with the Titans taking a slim 1-point favorite role into the game pitting two one-win teams in Nashville.
The Titans of course are coming off one of the worst games in awhile, a 41-17 laugher at Indianapolis in which backup QB Charlie Whitehurst was so ineffective (12-of-23, 177 yards) that the Titans actually turned to rookie Zach Mettenberger at the end just for shits and grins.
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The Browns enter the game fresh off a bye week, but prior to the bye the Browns had another tough last-second loss (23-21) to division rival Baltimore. With QB Brian Hoyer playing solid football everyone in the NFL has forgotten about his backup for a few weeks, but taking on a dinged-up Titans team could be just the spark the Browns need to get back to an even record this season.
With the Titans listed as a 1-point home favorite at most books already, there has been enough early steam on the home team to make some sportsbooks move the point spread up to Tennessee minus -2 already after a day on the board.
The over/under total opened at 44.5 and has held steady so far.
Neither of these teams wil be confused as an offensive juggernaut, but Locker behind center does make Tennessee better that with that fraud Whitehurst. Even so, the Titans are ranked 29th in passing (207 ypg), and 30th in points scored (15 ppg). Clevelands 30th-ranked defense could be just what the doctor ordered for the Titans weak offense so far, and it should come in the form of running the ball since the Browns are 29th against the run (153.7 ypg).
Cleveland will need Hoyer to break his game manager mold and take some shots on offense this week, especially considering the Titans defense gives up big plays and a bunch of scoring (27.5 ppg 28th) thus far in 2014.
Historically in this series, the road team has been a solid bet with a 6-2 ATS mark over the last 8 head-to-head meetings. Tennessee is also a highly disappointing 0-7 ATS in their last seven home games. The over is 4-1 over the last five head-to-head, and the over is also solid in a majority of both teams recent histories (over 8-3 for Clev. vs. AFC teams; over 6-2 for Tenn. in last 8 at home).
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Titans lack continuity with Locker in and out of the lineup, and I think the off week has helped the Browns get prepared for a game they should be able to win straight up. Cleveland on the moneyline would be worth a look, but in the end I think Cleveland will win this one on the road. Take Cleveland plus the point(s).