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Week 2 preview: Titans at Browns


The Sports Xchange

Tennessee Titans (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Tom McCarthy, Adam Archuleta

*Keys to the game: Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt was praised for incorporating a bit of the Oregon offense while keeping the play-calling generally straightforward in rookie QB Marcus Mariota’s dazzling regular-season debut. It helped that Tennessee jumped out to a big lead and received 115 yards on 24 combined carries from Bishop Sankey and Terrence West. The Browns knew their offense had some question marks entering the season, but the 154 rushing yards allowed to the Jets last week was alarming. Cleveland must to a better job with its run fits and put Mariota in more situations in which he has to push the ball downfield.

Johnny Manziel practiced with the first team this week and may start in place of Josh McCown (concussion). Manziel is turnover prone (two fumbles, one INT last week) and isn’t helped by a very pedestrian group of receivers, so the Browns are counting on a big improvement from their own ground game, which was led by Manziel and McCown last week. The takeaway from film review was Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson need to do a better job of seeing the running lanes created by the o-line and hitting them aggressively.

*Matchup to watch – Titans interior OL vs. Browns NT Danny Shelton: Cleveland’s massive rookie enjoyed a strong offseason but was part of a huge letdown by the ground game in Week 1. He needs to do a better job of occupying blockers working against C Brian Schwenke and OGs Byron Bell and Chance Warmack.

*Player spotlight – Manziel: He didn’t get his first NFL start until Week 14 last season. Now he’s thrust into the lineup hampered by a scuffling ground game and a lackluster receiving corps. Manziel can utilize his legs to bring an extra element, but can he avoid backbreaking mistakes?

*Fast facts: Mariota was the first rookie QB to post a 158.3 passer rating in Week 1 and the first rookie with four TD passes in the first half. … Crowell has averaged 4.6 yards per carry in eight career home games.


Marcus Mariota will hit his fair share of bumps in the rookie road, but this is setting up as a very winnable road debut. Cleveland’s run defense was shockingly poor in Week 1, and Browns QB Johnny Manziel has not proven he can avoid turnovers – much less take advantage of the Titans’ mediocre secondary.

*Our pick: Titans 23-20

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