The Cleveland Browns begin their most anticipated season in over a decade against the Tennessee Titans at FirstEnergy Stadium. Expectations are high in Cleveland, as some pundits expect the Browns to be the team to beat in the AFC North. I’m not getting caught up in the hype, though. Baker Mayfield has to show me something for more than one season.
That’s not a big enough sample size for my liking to crown him. Tape is out on him and defenses are likely going to be better prepared the second season around. Everybody had high expectations for Vince Young after his rookie season and he only went down from there. That’s not to say one thing or the other. Baker could develop into a perennial Pro Bowler, but he still has time to be a bust.
In other words, it’s important not to get too involved what respects to what the media is saying. Having said all that, we can only go off what Baker did in his rookie season and what he did was fairly impressive. He will be looking to avoid a sophomore slump after finishing with 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions on 63.8% completions. His season also included 131 rushing yards. In his second season, expectations are going to be higher.
The Browns traded for Odell Beckham in March to give Mayfield an elite target to pass to. Beckham wanted out of New York and he got his wish with a deal to Cleveland. I don’t know if Cleveland was his No. 1 destination, but he does go to a new with exciting potential and a quarterback who is going to zing it around the field.
Note that Beckham has been dealing with a hip injury is not going to be 100% here in Week 1. Reports have suggested that his hip is worse than previously thought, so that hurts against the Titans. Head below for our free Titans vs. Browns Week 1 pick.
Tennessee Titans vs. Cleveland Browns NFL Week 1 Betting Odds:
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Titans vs. Browns Pick:
There is going to be a ton of pressure on the Titans to perform this season. Most of that pressure will be firmly pressed on quarterback Marcus Mariota. He’s at a point in his career where he must excel. Mariota was selected second overall by the Titans in 2015, so it’s time to shoulder the load offensively or somebody is going to be coming for his starting job.
The Titans signed Ryan Tannehill to push Mariota and give him some competition. If Mariota continually struggles, we should expect to see Tannehill get snaps. And it isn’t like Mariota has been terribly awful, he just hasn’t lived up to his selection in the draft at No. 2.
Mariota passed for 11 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in 2018. He also rushed for 357 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. Just not what you expect from a top-rated prospect out of college. With Tannehill on the roster, Mariota has some added motivation to play well.
Corey Davis should give the offense a lift. Heading into his third season. Big things are expected out of Davis after 891 yards and 4 touchdowns as a sophomore. He and Delanie Walker should combine to give the Browns’ defense some difficult looks in this contest.
The return of a healthy Walker will benefit Mariota significantly. Everyone will be talking about Baker Mayfield and Beckham in this game, but Walker and Davis may steal some of the limelight. Derrick Henry isn’t a fun guy to try and tackle, either. He averaged 146.5 yards on the ground in the final four weeks of the regular season.
As we mentioned earlier, Beckham is dealing with a hip injury. It has been confirmed that he will not be anything close to 100%. He missed most of training camp and didn’t play a down in the preseason, which prevented Baker and Beckham from generating a rhythm. He is likely going to be more of a decoy here for Jarvis Landry on the other side. Despite the injury, Tennessee must honor Beckham’s presence.
We’ll see how this season goes, but I’m not one of those people signing the praises of the Browns in 2019. They have a plethora of weapons, including a reliable runner in Nick Chubb. That being said, it could take time for this unit to get some chemistry playing together. Mariota has had more than enough time with his group.
The line here of 6 is set with public perception in mind. Cleveland have been the most highly touted team in the offseason, so naturally, money will pour in on the Browns. 6 looks like a little too much to me in a game that should be a close contest. Henry chewing up yardage and keeping drives going for the Titans likely keeps this within 6 points on Sunday.