Titans vs. Browns Pick Against the Spread
Titans vs. Browns Week 1 Pick
Tennessee Titans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Football Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday September 8th, 2019. 1:00PM (EST)
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium Cleveland, O.H.
Point Spread:TEN +5.5/CLE -5.5 (WagerWeb)
Over/Under Total: 45.5
The Cleveland Browns will make their highly anticipated season debut in week 1 when they host the Tennessee Titans inside FirstEnergy Stadium. Expectations and hype have reached unfathomable heights in Cleveland ahead of their 2019 campaign. The seeds were planted last year when rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield revived the franchise by turning an 0-16 team into a respectable program that ended the season with a record of 7-8-1. Year 2 of the Mayfield era hit euphoria over the offseason when the Browns signed superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Now with one of the most polarizing offenses in the NFL that features the likes of Mayfield, Beckham, Jarvis Landy, and Nick Chubb, the Browns look to take another big step forward in 2019.
All of the expectations and hype will come to a head in week 1 when the Browns host the Tennessee Titans inside FirstEnergy Stadium. With the recent news of Andrew Luck’s retirement, the AFC South is once again wide open which provides an opportunity for the Titans if they can kick off the season with a victory. The question this week is, can the Titans take down America’s new favorite team? I personally think they can because the Browns have some inevitable holes to fill before they can take that next step. Those concerns mainly reside on the defensive side of the football, but we should also raise a concern about consistency on offense. After all, Mayfield tied for 3rd in the NFL for the most interceptions (14) thrown on the season, and I believe we have several legitimate reasons to be skeptical of the Browns’ expectations to start the 2019 season. I am prepared to discuss those concerns and tell you why all of the hype in Cleveland could come crashing down to reality in week 1!
Expect the Browns defense to struggle early in 2019
At the end of 2018, Cleveland ranked 25th against the pass, 28th against the run, and 23rd in pass-rushing efficiency. All of those statistics speak to the inevitable talent gaps on the defensive side of the football. Now Cleveland did make some moves over the offseason to aim towards improvement. The Browns acquired DE Olivier Vernon in a trade with the Giants to add some talent across from superstar Myles Garrett. The Browns drafted Greedy Williams in the 2nd round who will look to make an impact in the secondary, but he will need time to develop. Even with the acquired talent, Cleveland still has one of the weakest groups of linebackers in the NFL, and that is a weakness that cannot be overlooked. Linebackers are the boundary from both stopping big plays in the running game and helping pass protection over the middle of the field which were both weaknesses in 2019. With no clear answers ahead of the 2019 season, I am not expecting much change on the defensive side of the football, especially early in the year.
Furthermore, we know Tennessee is going to attack Cleveland with a run-heavy offense. Coach Mike Vrabel is notorious for run-heavy game scripts at least until the Titans are playing from behind which was often in 2018. However, with the re-emergence of Derrick Henry at the end of last season, the Titans will be looking to set the tone early in the running game. Henry rushed for 585 yards in the final four games in 2018, and the Titans should have a better offensive line to start their 2019 campaign. If you look at this game purely from a match-up standpoint, the Browns biggest weakness is stopping the run and perhaps big plays in the running game judging by their talent at linebacker. From a pure X’s and O’s standpoint, Cleveland is going to have their hands full, and I also believe that is why this betting line is relatively low with the Titans listed as mere 5.5 point road underdogs.
More Picks: Mann’s Pittsburgh at New England Prediction
Trust the early season trends
Over the last two years, the Titans have been one of the strongest betting teams in the league in the early months of the season. This particular trend likely correlates with quarterback Marcus Mariota’s health. The Titans biggest hurdle on offense has consistently been keeping Mariota healthy, and when that has been the case; the Titans have performed well. In fact, Tennessee is 5-2 SU and 6-1 ATS in games in September over the past two seasons. Now I could throw some September facts out about the Browns falling into the ‘early-season’ angle. For example, the Browns are just 4-10 ATS in their last 14 opening games. However, I don’t think those trends matter because we all understand that this current Cleveland team is unlike any others in the past.
With that said, I still believe Tennessee is more prepared to thrive in week 1. Neither defense in this game is great, but I have serious doubts that the Browns offense will be firing on all cylinders out of the gate. I hate to point the finger at preseason performance, but Mayfield struggled significantly at times during this year’s preseason games along with the rest of the offense. In game three against Tampa Bay, Mayfield completed just 10 of 26 passing for 72 yards with an interception. Again it was only preseason, but the offense was not performing smoothly, and that is not necessarily surprising. Early season games are usually when you see offenses struggle, and that is another reason that I like the heavy rushing approach Tennessee will bring in week 1. It simply has a higher probability towards success, especially considering the match-up advantage, and that is why I believe these early season trends will continue. The Browns need more time. Tennessee does not.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Titans +5.5
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