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VOL. 40 | NO. 42 | Friday, October 14, 2016

Browns at Titans: What to watch

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Keep on running. The Titans showed against Miami how their “exotic smashmouth” system is supposed to work. The offensive line did a great job opening holes for DeMarco Murray, who has run for 114, 95 and 121 yards in the past three games. The Titans are second in the league in rushing offense, while the Browns are 20th in rushing yards allowed.

The simpler the better. Against the Dolphins, Marcus Mariota looked more confident and decisive. If the receivers were covered, Mariota simply tucked the ball and scrambled for what yards were available with great success.

Turn up the pressure. The Titans worked over a patchwork Dolphins offensive line last week for six sacks. The Browns have already been through four quarterbacks and receiver Terrelle Pryor under center in five games. It can’t all be bad luck on the Browns’ part. Look for Brian Orakpo, Jurrell Casey and company to take advantage of the Browns’ poor pass protection.

Avoid a letdown. It’s been a long time since the Titans have beaten a team other than Jacksonville at home or won two games in a row. They will never have a better chance to end both streaks. That said, Cleveland has beaten the Titans the past two years, and Tennessee has been known to flop against terrible teams before.

Key matchups

Titans LB Brian Orakpo vs. Browns T Joe Thomas. Orakpo has six sacks in five games, and looks like he did in his prime with the Redskins. He will draw a tough assignment in perennial Pro Bowl tackle Thomas, generally regarded as the best all-around tackle in the league.

Titans WR Tajae Sharpe vs. Browns CB Joe Haden. Haden is one of the NFL’s top cover cornerbacks. The Titans really don’t have a game-changing receiver, but somewhere among Sharpe, Kendall Wright, Rishard Matthews and Andre Johnson, Tennessee has to find a way to make some plays against the Browns secondary.

Titans CB Jason McCourty vs. Browns WR Terrelle Pryor. Just in case Pryor has to quarterback the Browns on Sunday, this matchup could change. For the most part, the Titans secondary has held up despite a lack of true speed on the edges. Pryor is developing into a threat on the outside, even with the Browns’ muddled QB situation. The Titans can’t afford to let him get free in their secondary.

-- Terry McCormick

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