With the NFL (pre)season about to start it is time to actually look forward to the season ahead and start thinking about where the Tennessee Titans stand. I will make a season projection after a few preseason games, but in the meantime I think it is interesting to rank the games I see as the easiest (#16) to the hardest (#1).
So with that said, here is a at this ranking.
#12: Week 11 @ Cleveland Browns
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Who is the quarterback?
The Cleveland Browns have a two man quarterback battle heading into camp, and neither candidates inspire any kind of confidence.
First of all, you have Josh McCown as the veteran option. Veteran might be a nice way of putting it, but the 36 year old quarterback has played in 67 games in 13 years, and has never played a full season. He has a career statline of 61 TDs to 59 INTs, with 43 fumbles. Which is not quite inspiring.
On the other hand, you have the infamous Johnny Manziel. While we don’t know much about him yet, I think it is safe to say that he is a long way away from being a solid starter. In a small sample size, Manziel has a 0 TD to 2 INT ratio.
What skill positions?
Let’s break down the starting wide receivers and tight ends for the Cleveland Browns:
WR #1: Dwayne Bowe
Bowe is the prototypical big name, big disappointment type of receiver. He depletes your resources and doesn’t give you what you need on the field. Last year with average quarterback play he tallied 60 receptions and 754 yards and zero touchdowns.
That receiving yardage ranked 55th in the league last year, and he ended up behind nine tight ends and two running backs.
WR #2: Brian Hartline
Again, a player with a bigger name than his production. Hartline (with average QB play) ended up with just 474 yards, which ranked 96th in the league.
TE: Gary Barnidge
This is a player whose name value matches his production.
This is the rare NFL team that you can honestly stack the box with defenders and will rarely if ever get punished. The Cleveland Browns have a pretty good running back group with Isaiah Crowell, Terrance West and Duke Johnson.
However, if you put Jurrell Casey and Brian Orakpo on the left side of the defense, that should cancel out the dominance of Joe Thomas and Joel Bitonio. Alex Mack will still be a thorn in the defense’s side, but ultimately Derrick Morgan, Sammie Hill and Avery Williamson should be able to held stymy the Browns rushing game.
The Tennessee Titans defense should be much more aggressive this year, and in the two games last year against Dick LeBeau the Browns averaged just 18.5 points. That mark would have ranked 28th in the NFL last year.