Two playoff teams will meet in Nashville this weekend, as Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns travel to take on the Tennessee Titans. While both teams are 8-3, they are in somewhat different situations. The Titans are trying to hold off the Indianapolis Colts for their first AFC South title since 2008, and the Browns are attempting to lock up a top wild-card spot. The undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers have unofficially claimed the AFC North, so every one of Cleveland's AFC matchups are extremely important moving forward.
The Titans retook first place in the AFC South last week with a 45-26 win over the Colts. Derrick Henry rushed for 178 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries, but he wasn't the only Titan who had a big day on offense. A.J. Brown caught four passes for 98 yards and a touchdown, and also returned an onside kick for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. It was a dominant team win for the Titans, and it's possible this squad is close to playing its best ball at the most important time. As for the Browns, they defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars last week by a score of 27-25. Cleveland probably should have won by more points, but this is what the Browns have been doing all season -- winning games they are supposed to, and registering no style points doing it.
Before we get into the details of Sunday's matchup, let's break down how you can keep up with the action:
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The Browns lead the all-time series with the Titans, 35-31, but the Titans have won the past three matchups. Cleveland could guarantee itself a win this weekend if the defense is able to contain Henry. It's been done before this season, but unfortunately Henry is hitting the time of year where he becomes virtually unstoppable. In December and January since 2018 (including the playoffs), Henry leads all players in rushes per game (23.1), rushing yards per game (135.0) and rushing touchdowns (16). The Browns secondary also has to keep Brown in check, as he has proven he's a home-run hitter that can take any touch all the way for six points.
The Browns could also score a victory on Sunday if they rely heavily on Nick Chubb and Jarvis Landry. While Henry is the reigning rushing champion and the league's current leading rusher, Chubb has certainly proven that he's one of the best backs in the NFL. Over the past three games, he is averaging 128 rushing yards per game and also has scored two touchdowns. His vision is elite, and like Henry, he can put games away quickly if his team gets a lead late in the game. Chubb should have some help moving forward, however, as Jarvis Landry finally showed up to the party. Last week against the Jaguars, he caught eight of his 11 targets for 143 yards and one touchdown -- which was his first of the season. Mayfield found success throwing off of play action last Sunday, but was still inaccurate at times.
The Brownies are 1-5 against the spread in their last six games, and have a -21 point differential. That makes them just the second 8-3 team (or better) to be outscored through 11 games in the Super Bowl era. I do look forward to watching Henry and Chubb battle it out, but the Titans reclaimed first place in the AFC South last week and they aren't looking back.
Score: Titans 31-24 over Browns
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