Cleveland Browns face the Tennessee Titans in NFL Week 4: Good News/Bad News

Barbara Bruno@allprofootballContributor IIOctober 1, 2011

Cleveland Browns face the Tennessee Titans in NFL Week 4: Good News/Bad News

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    Help me, Peyton Hills, you’re my only hope.

    -George Lucas (sort of)

    If Kenny Britt were still on the Tennessee Titans, they’d be favored by a touchdown coming into Cleveland on Sunday. Even without him, none of the national football analysts are even discussing the Browns when breaking down this game. It’s all about:

    Now, that’s doesn’t sound so good. In fact, it really isn’t good. But how many people truly thought that the Bills could beat the Patriots last week? I’m happy to see that the Dawg Pound is staying proud and that Cleveland writers are believers. But, seriously, what’s it going to take for the Browns to win?

Rain and Running

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    The good news is the weather.

    You do know that it’s supposed to be “showering” and in the 50’s, right? We’re looking at a running game.

    I give the advantage here to the Browns because Peyton Hillis was 100 percent in the groove before he got sick. And Montario Hardesty is so happy to have reached the field that he’ll do anything to gain yards. Conversely, to say that Chris Johnson is having a rough season is to say that Adrian Peterson is an okay runner.


    More good news:

    In three games, Mr. Johnson has had 46 carries for 98 yards with an average per game of less than 33 yards. And his receiving stats are almost identical. Wow—that’s even worse than I expected. Meanwhile, Mr. Hillis toted the rock 27 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns in his last game. And Mr. Hardesty had 14 carries for 67 yards. That’s 4.8 per carry.


    What do these numbers teach us, class?

    • Pat Shurmur is not giving the ball to his running backs nearly often enough.
    • Our running backs are currently better than their running back—so there. Who ever thought that anyone would say that about Chris Johnson? It won’t last, but the Browns have a window here to dominate on the ground.


    The bad news:

    The flaw in this spectacular and optimistic argument is that Matt Hasselbeck played for about 100 years in Seattle. So he might just know a thing or two about passing the football in the rain. Oh dear.

Cleveland Browns Downright Respectable Defense

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    The good news:

    The Browns’ defense has held up quite well against opposing QBs. They have given up only 187 aerial yards per week. Not bad. Not bad at all.

    Both Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown have held their own against every WR that’s been thrown at them in 2011. Of course, Sheldon has one of the pesky groin pulls and is questionable.

    But with Britt out, that means they really only have to cover Nate Washington. Second-year Damian Williams is the new wideout. He isn’t a star, but the Browns don’t have much film on him either.

    This aspect of the game is going to rest squarely on the Cleveland linebackers and safeties. For a couple of weeks now, Tennessee’s No. 8 has been targeting his TEs as receivers. In theory, the Browns’ should be able to shut down ancient Daniel Graham and blocker Craig Stevens. But I’ll bet that is precisely what the Broncos thought last week.


    The bad news:

    Cleveland’s run D is surrendering almost 130 rushing yards per game. See previous slide for Chris Johnson’s slump. This could be his week. Yikes.

    So much for my faith in the linebackers. Time for the D-line to step up.

Quarterback Colt McCoy Is the Real Deal

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    The good news:

    Colt McCoy has the “it” factor. The young man spent three and a half quarters last Sunday holding on to the ball too long and making decisions too slowly. And then he led a flawless game-winning drive. It was impressive. It was darn near perfect. It was a timeless demonstration of the West Coast offense two-minute drill. Now if he could do that a little earlier in the game, we’ll all live a little longer.


    West Coast side note:

    Is it just me, or is Matt Hasselbeck exactly who McCoy wants to be when he grows up? I’m just saying.


    The bad news:

    The Titans’ defense is only giving up 172 yards through the air on any given Sunday. Hmmm. I’ve never played quarterback, but I would hazard this bit of advice to Colt: Do not throw the ball at Finnegan.

AFC North Standings Up for Grabs

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    As for the season thus far:

    The good news:

    Cleveland is tied for first place in the division (OK, technically second, but I’m a glass-full kind of girl) along with the Ravens and the Steelers. Hey, it’s still first place.

    Buffalo will probably beat Cincy in Cincy and Houston might beat the Steelers in Texas. And it is possible for the Jets to knock off the Ravens.


    The bad news:

    No one is betting on the Browns winning this week, even at home. In fact, they are betting in droves on the Titans. That’s okay. That has no bearing on what happens on the grass. Right?

Browns' and Titans' Injuries a Factor: Probably.

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    The good news:

    Hillis is back and Hardesty is turning into a legit change-up guy. And, of course, the Titans just lost Britt.


    The bad news:

    Both Cribbs and Massaquoi are questionable.  The Titans are really only missing FB Hall and LB McRath.


    Worse news:

    Both Browns' OT’s (Pashos and Thomas) are also questionable. The Titans have recorded six sacks in 2011. Well, it could be worse, but if they can’t play, it’s not going to help the running game.

Tennessee Titans' Score with Hasselbeck

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    Facing Hasselbeck

    The good news:

    The Browns have recorded 11 sacks in three games.


    The bad news:

    Hasselbeck only has three turnovers in 2011 (two INTs and one fumble lost). He is passing for more than 300 yards per game and has five TDs. 

Cleveland Browns' Fans: Let the Dogs Out!

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    Bottom Line: 

    Hasselbeck’s leadership, accuracy and experience, coupled with their very tough D, give Tennessee a significant advantage. However, they are very vulnerable with their struggling running game and now only one experienced WR.

    If the Cleveland defense can take advantage of CB’s slow start and if Colt can play like his fourth quarter self, the Browns have a legitimate shot.

    So, think positively and cheer loudly!

    Browns’ fans could conceivably be celebrating their first 3-0 start in 10 years.