Titans-Browns Preview: Derrick Henry vs. Nick Chubb, Who’ll Win The Battle Between Two of The Best Running Backs In The NFL? – BlackSportsOnline
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Titans-Browns Preview: Derrick Henry vs. Nick Chubb, Who’ll Win The Battle Between Two of The Best Running Backs In The NFL?

We have a late season marquee matchup on deck this weekend, as the 8-3 Cleveland Browns travel down to Nashville to take on the 8-3 Tennessee Titans.

In a battle between two of the best run games in football, this game will heavily feature the always entertaining ball control offense. At first, you might think of a ball control offense and think of clock milking, and a shortage of explosive plays on offense.

But that isn’t the case here, since both of these squads possess explosive offensive talent that has the potential to rack up the points on the scoreboard.

It should be a rather interesting game, so let’s preview it down to the last little detail.

Major Storylines Heading Into The Game

1. Cleveland and Tennessee Boast The Two Best Run Games In Football

When the league was gearing up for this rather peculiar 2020 season, we were all given the opportunity to discuss the major talking points around the league aside from the troubles that were sure to come along because of COVID-19.

How would the Baltimore Ravens rebound after their shocking loss to the Titans in the playoffs? Can anyone stop the Kansas City Chiefs? What would be next for the Saints after another playoff loss, and with Drew Brees inching closer to retirement?

There were so many unknowns surrounding multiple teams around the league, that leaning towards caution seemed like the best way to go in terms of judging teams and predicting their success for this season.

But with Tennessee and Cleveland, we knew how these two teams would turn out based on their ride or die attitude with their run game.

Luckily for both teams, their run games have been electric this year, and are the main reasons why they sit at 8-3 at this point in the season.

For Tennessee, we know it’s all about Derrick Henry and his wear-ya-down type run style that gets more effective as the game goes on. He’s sitting at just over 1,250 rushing yards, he’s the sole reason why the run game as a whole sits at second in football in terms of yards per game(158.2 RYPG), and his recent play has catapulted him into the MVP discussion.

Alex Rollins made a great video breaking down the Titans’ run game, and the overwhelming effects it has on defenses across the league.

In Cleveland, Nick Chubb has been the main guy in terms of carries, but Kareem Hunt has almost had an equally good year statistically, while maintaining a role as the 2nd back on the depth chart. Cleveland ranks 1st in the league in terms of rushing yards per game(161.4 RYPG), and those 2 studs are a big reason why.

You’re going to see ball control football at its finest tomorrow, but with both offenses possessing explosive potential in the passing game, it won’t be the boring “clock milking” game you might’ve watched in the past.

2. The Browns Haven’t Exactly Looked The Part at 8-3, But The Titans Have….Sort of

The Cleveland Browns have risen from the ashes to get an 8-3 record. But they’ve struggled too many times this year against lowly teams in the process, while failing to look competitive against the big dogs of the AFC North.

Games against The Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars — all teams with losing records — have finished as unnecessary nail biters.

These are just games outside of the division.

In the division, the Browns have been in two dogfights with the underwhelming Cincinnati Bengals, and Pittsburgh & Baltimore have each played the Browns once and have blown them out each time.

You want to see the good teams handle the bad teams with ease, and look competitive against the stronger teams they come across.

The Browns just haven’t done that enough this season.

Tennessee on the other hand, is 8-3 as well, but they’ve somewhat had the same problems with bad teams like Cleveland. But the difference here is, they looked consistent and complete in a couple facets in those games, and they’ve beaten a handful of teams that can be labeled as contenders.

Whereas the Browns haven’t.

Not to say the Browns are frauds and the Titans are miles better than them, just pointing out the obvious differences in play between two likely AFC playoff teams.

Matchups to Watch

1. Dennis Kelly vs. Myles Garrett

Dennis Kelly has looked steady at right tackle this year, but he’ll get a really tough test this week.

Myles Garrett is one of the best defensive players in football, and his numbers this season have backed that statement up. He has 9.5 sacks, 7 TFL, and 4 forced fumbles through 9 games this year. Those figures would’ve looked better if he didn’t miss the last 2 games due to contracting COVID-19, which is saying something considering these numbers are already impressive as they are.

If Cleveland can slow down this Titans run game, and force the Titans into obvious passing situations, then this matchup will be one to keep an eye on.

2. Titans Linebackers vs. Nick Chubb & Kareem Hunt

We already discussed Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt’s success this season, along with how their own play has essentially carried this Browns offense.

With that being said, the spotlight turns to this Titans linebacker group, and how effective they can be in stopping the run. The consensus this season has been, if you can force this Browns offense into a passing one, odds are you’ll find success as a defense.

Not many teams have been able to do that this season, but if the Titans can do it, they’ll get a lot of opportunities to get stops and give the ball back to their offense and its punishing run game.

If I’m Tennessee, I’d love for that to occur.

X-Factors

Tennessee Titans: LB Rashaan Evans

The Titans’ linebacker group and their mission to stop the run was mentioned earlier. So how about locking Rashaan Evans in as an X-Factor for tomorrow’s game?

Evans has had a bit of a down year in 2020, but his athleticism and traits as a run stopping linebacker are still there, so not all hope has been lost in him.

He’ll need to be at the top of his game tomorrow, since anything less will potentially have him looking rather unimpressive against this dominant Browns run game.

Cleveland Browns: QB Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield hasn’t looked entirely good this year, and that’s even with the run game to help him out.

His mechanics still look flawed, and his decision making hasn’t been the best either. To put it in shorter terms, it’s been a little bit of a struggle for the ex-Oklahoma star.

If this Browns run game slows down a bit, and Mayfield is forced to make plays with his arm, it’ll be interesting to see if he can pull through against a Titans secondary that’s looked much better lately.

Side note here, Cleveland will only have 4 active wide receivers for tomorrow’s game because of injuries. Not good when your quarterback is already struggling as it is.

Prediction

Both Cleveland and Tennessee sport 8-3 records, but Tennessee to me is still the better all around team. Tennessee’s offense is clicking once again after a pretty noticeable slump after their matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the defense is improving at the right time as well.

Those 2 big factors doesn’t sound too good for Cleveland since their defense will be very shorthanded in the secondary, and Baker Mayfield is as inconsistent of a player you’ll see

I’ll take the Titans in this one.

Titans: 31

Browns: 21



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