Titans at Browns: What to watch

Friday, October 20, 2017, Vol. 41, No. 42

Titans at Browns

Sunday, Oct 22, Noon

TV: CBS (WTVF, Channel 5)

Radio: 104.5 FM

Rishard Matthews vs. Jason McCourty. The long-time Titans cornerback landed in Cleveland after being a cap cut by the Titans this spring. Matthews has been one of the Titans most consistent receivers this season, and it will be interesting to see how he works against a guy who was his teammate last year and should know him well.

Logan Ryan vs. Kenny Britt. Another former Titan who has landed in Cleveland, Britt has been a disappointment since signing a big free agent contract in the off-season. Speaking of free agents, Ryan came to the Titans as a free agent himself this off-season in hopes that he would shore up a leaky secondary. The results have been mixed thus far.

Brian Orakpo vs. Joe Thomas. Orakpo, who had 10.5 sacks a year ago, says he will he patient and knows that in time his sack totals this year will get to where they should be, despite just one in the first five games. Orakpo gets a big challenge from Thomas, who has been the gold standard of left tackles in the league for the past several years now.

Four downs

First down. No letdowns. Just because the Browns have a zero in the win column doesn’t mean this game is any sort of gimme for the Titans. After all, they have missed their fair share of two-foot putts in the past. Remember, just in the past few years, the Titans lost a Johnny Manziel-led Browns team and also blew a 25-point lead at home to Cleveland.

Second down. No looking ahead to the bye. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with first down, but with the Titans on a bye next week and coming off a Monday night game heading into the Browns game, that makes Sunday’s matchup that classic “trap” game where bad things often happen to teams who ordinarily should win. Coach Mike Mularkey and his staff have to guard against that sort of thing cropping up.

Third down. Run the football effectively. If the Titans are going to maintain their identity as a physical football team, then it starts on offense up front with the line and with backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Against the Browns, the task actually isn’t as easy as it might sound as Cleveland is sixth in the NFL against the run, surrendering just over 87 yards per game on the ground.

Fourth down. Be creative on defense. Dick LeBeau is the old master among NFL defensive coordinators, and the Browns quarterback situation is a perpetual train wreck. Whether they stick with Kevin Hogan or go back to Deshone Kizer, the Titans defense should be able to exploit an inexperienced quarterback into making some mistakes.

-- Terry McCormick