The Cleveland Browns and Titans are set to face off on Sunday, and most media outlets are portraying the two teams as being far apart in terms of overall team production. You are constantly hearing how great the Titans are and how lucky the Browns are, but maybe they should take a closer look at what each team has done in 2020.
Browns and Titans strength of Schedule
The overall record of the Titans competition: 53 – 54 – 1
The overall record of the Browns competition: 47 – 61 – 2
The Titans have had a tougher road so far when it comes to the schedule. Tennessee lost a game to the Bengals and barely squeaked by the Jaguars and Texans. The Browns took down the Colts but also had close calls against the Texans and Jaguars.
How they are built
The Browns come into this game with a new coaching staff that has created a tough and physical team. Cleveland is looking to build everything off of the backfield duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. They then use play-action to open up the passing attack. The idea is for the offense to control the game and hope the defense can hold up or cause some mistakes to win.
Guess what? The same thing could be written regarding how the Titans do things. In their version, Derrick Henry is the one plowing over people to set up the passing attack. These offenses are nearly identical in how they want to do things.
Comparing the offenses
Browns rushing offense per game: 161.4
Points per game: 24.1
The severe weather games against the Raiders and Texans brought this down. Outside of those two games, the Browns have scored 27.6 points per game. That includes a total of 13 points scored against the Ravens and Steelers defenses. Those defenses are number one and number three in points allowed.
Titans rushing offense per game: 158.2
Points per game: 29.5
The Titans’ toughest defenses faced this season have been the Bears and Colts, who are ranked ninth and tenth, respectively, in points per game allowed. Tennessee has also not had to play in any severe weather games in 2020.
How about the defenses?
The Titans defense ranks 28th against the pass and has given up 23 touchdowns passes this season. Their run defense is 17th in the NFL and has given up 12 touchdowns–compared to just 14 all last season. They have dropped from 12th in the NFL in scoring defense in 2019 to 20th this year, at 25.9 per game.
So how about that awful defense of the Browns this season? Well, they currently rank 20th in the NFL against the pass and have allowed 22 touchdowns. The run defense is ranked ninth in the NFL and has allowed ten touchdowns this season. After allowing 24.6 points per game last season, the Browns are a bit worse this year, giving up 26.0 a game.
However, if you take those two games that the Browns played in severe weather, Cleveland has allowed 29.2 points per game– which would be the second-worst in the NFL.
The biggest difference?
Sorry to say it, Browns fans, but the biggest difference Sunday is with the quarterbacks. Ryan Tannehill has continued his incredible play from a season ago, while Baker Mayfield has lacked consistency with his play. Now, Mayfield is also still getting comfortable in a new offense after playing in three other schemes already, and Tannehill and his group are in their second season together. That continuity cannot be discounted and has allowed them to blossom into a top-five scoring offense.
Mayfield, while inconsistent, has shown some great strides under head coach Kevin Stefanski. He ranks 15th in the NFL with 17 touchdowns thrown and has only seven interceptions. He has also not thrown a pick in 123 straight passes, which was huge for an offense that did not score a lot over the last four games. After a season where he threw 21 interceptions, it is great to see him on pace (per ESPN) to throw just ten this year. Mayfield still has work to do, but he is clearly not the same quarterback that threw three picks in the 2019 opener against these Titans.
Tannehill, on the other hand, has found himself in Tennessee. In his second year with the Titans, his first as the full-time starter, he is currently tied for seventh in the NFL with 23 touchdowns thrown and a minuscule four interceptions. Tannehill has the highest adjusted quarterback rating of his career at 76.7, placing him fifth in the NFL.
Based on the numbers, we just might have a great game on our hands Sunday. Both the Browns and Titans have exceeded what they are as a whole and are loaded with playmakers. The difference Sunday may come down to the quarterbacks, and while the advantage falls to the Titans, Mayfield has had some great games recently. This one should be interesting.
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