Titans vs. Browns: The Titans Will Win If....

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 25: Nate Washington #85 of the Tennessee Titans gets the fans to cheer during a game against the Denver Broncos at LP Field on September 25, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Broncos 17 - 14. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

I also asked Dan Parker to give me what he thought the Titans had to do in order to win the game. His answer after the jump.

The Titans Will Win If... they can get a return to normalcy from Chris Johnson and can protect Matt Hasselbeck on offense, and force Colt McCoy into mistakes on defense. Hasselbeck loses his favorite weapon in Kenny Britt, but Chris Johnson has to be kicking enough rust off that he's ready to get into gear again. The Browns are allowing almost 130 yards per game on the ground, so to offset losing Britt it might behoove the Titans to focus more on getting Johnson going.

 

Cleveland's pass defense is better than it has been in years-past, allowing under 190 yards per game which is good enough for third in the leaue--just behind the Titans. Part of that is due to their opponents (Kerry Collins? Andy Dalton?) but part of it is due to the emergence of young players like Joe Haden and TJ Ward in the secondary. Another part of it is that the Browns have finally--with their switch back to the 4-3 defense--been able to get some pressure from their new-look defensive line. So, if Tennessee is going to rely on the passing game heavily again, they will have to make sure to protect Hasselbeck from the jump. The Browns are currently third in the league in sacks with 11 through three games, paced by MLB D'Qwell Jackson and DT Ahtyba Rubin who each have 2.5.

On defense, the job is a bit easier for Tennessee; the Browns offense has looked downright putrid at times, while looking functional at others. The running game has not nearly been as impactful as it was last season. Both Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty are averaging under four yards per carry, and the Browns are 22nd in the league in rushing yards. The Titans bring a very good rush defense to this game, so if they just stay true to form they should be able to keep the Browns rushers in check. Cleveland is starting a true rookie at left guard and a second year guy--basically a rookie--at right guard. There has also been a revolving door at right tackle for several years, and so while there are two Pro Bowlers at center and left tackle, the other spots are shaky at best with Pro Bowl LG Eric Steinbach out for the season. If the Titans can blow some holes in that O-line, they can have a good day against both the run and the pass.

Colt McCoy has been good at moving out of the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield, but in the end he usually either dumps it to his nearest receiver--usually a back or a TE--when rolling out, or he throws a straight-up jump ball to a WR on the sidelines. If the Titans can pressure him and force him into some of those silly decisions, they could most likely feast. McCoy does seem to have a knack for rising up in the fourth quarter, so the Titans would be well advised to put this one out of reach early. McCoy runs the two minute drill well, and his ability to make plays with his feet is a big asset in those situations. However, there have been times where he's struggled this year, both because his receivers overall just aren't that good, and also with his ability to make strong downfield throws. If the Titans can give him happy feet, it will help them immensely.

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