The Tennessee Titans open their 2019 season against a team on the rise. The Cleveland Browns, behind the arm of Baker Mayfield, made some noise to close out 2018. New head coach Freddie Kitchens is looking to build off of that, now with a new weapon in Odell Beckham Jr. to use.
The Titans are fresh off of their third consecutive 9-7 season, looking to push through to bigger and better things. This is an early season matchup of two AFC playoff contenders, but one side has the clear edge, according to those in Vegas.
The Browns currently sit as a 5.5 point favorites for Sunday’s matchup (Noon, CBS) in Cleveland. The Total has been set at 45.5.
One thing working against the Titans is the suspension of Taylor Lewan, who will miss the first four games for Tennessee. Lewan was suspended for taking a banned substance, which may handicap Arthur Smith’s offense for the first month of the season. Preseason is preseason, but the first team offensive line really struggled the few times we got to see them work without Lewan in the lineup.
For a team that’s likely to feature Derrick Henry between the tackles, the offensive line is a huge concern heading into the year. Of course, that same line is tasked with keeping quarterback Marcus Mariota upright and healthy this year.
Cleveland will throw Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon at that Tennessee offensive line, looking to make things tough on Mariota. In my opinion, that matchup alone might determine the outcome of this one.
The Titans bring back a solid defensive unit across the board, but they’ll be tested out of the gates against Mayfield, Beckham and Nick Chubb.
I’d feel a lot better about this one if Lewan was there to protect Mariota. Arthur Smith is going to have to dial up a quick passing game to get the ball out of Mariota’s hand and to keep Garrett and Vernon away.
Which side are you taking?