No doubt the Titans will be gunning for a 2-0 start and to retain their spot atop the AFC South, What? But are the Underdogs worth a shot here,let’s dive in and try to make a solid pick.
Tennessee Titans vs. Cleveland Browns (CBS, Directv 708; 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT): The Cleveland Browns (7-9, 299 PF-337 PA) welcome the Tennessee Titans (9-7, 254 PF-438 PA) to FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland on Sunday in this AFC Week 2 inter-divisional contest on Sunday afternoon. Oddsmakers on Sunday night opened up the host Browns slight favorites over the Titans and this line currently (Monday afternoon) ranges from (Cleveland) -1 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), -1½ (Station Casinos), -2 (MGM Mirage, 5Dimes), to -2½ (Pinnacle), so there is much interest and much difference of opinion already on where this Point Spread should be between what were thought to be two of the worst teams in the NFL. Who would have guessed that in July. The Total here has been set at 41½ (Pinnacle) and is at that number in all sports books on the screens while the Moneyline odds here see Cleveland -128 favorites with Tennessee priced at +108 on the takeback (5Dimes). Of note: the Browns opened up as 4-point Favorites on the (SuperBook) Advanced Line, out (last) Wednesday.
Either the Tennessee Titans (150/1 to win Super Bowl, Bwin) are way better than thought or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are way worse. Or maybe a little of both? On Sunday, the Buccaneers were embarrassed at Home in Tampa by the Titans and Rookie QB Marcus Mariota (Oregon), who went 13-for-16 for 209 yards, 4 TDs, 0 Interceptions and a 95.7 QBR in his NFL Regular Season debut, another meeting with Jameis Winston—this time as QB for the Buccaneers and not for Florida State. Besides Mariota’s impressive debut, several other Tennessee skill position players really stepped up, shaking the AFC South’s other three teams—the Colts, Texans and Jaguars—who all lost in Week 1, leaving Tennessee and Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt (4-12-1 ATS) to bask in the undefeated, first-place glow, however short that glow lets them bask in it. But a 2-0 Titans start and a 0-2 Colts start is possible, though still pretty remote. Some of this skill guys who contributed: RB Bishop Sankey (12 rushes, 74 yards, TD), RB Terrance West (13 rushes, 41 yards). WR Kendall Wright (4 receptions, 101 yards, TD), TE Delanie Walker (3 receptions, 22 yards, TD) and WR Harry Douglas (2 receptions, 24 yards, TD) all had decent games versus Tampa, and believe it or not, Tennessee may actually be stepping down in competition here at Cleveland. On the Injury front, the aforementioned Walker (Hand) and RB Antonio Andrews (Hamstring) are both listed as Questionable and the Titans will definitely need Walker for this one in the Buckeye State.
The Cleveland Browns (250/1 to win Super Bowl, Ladbrokes) had better NFL odds to win Super Bowl 50 last week than did the Titans but that was then and this is now, with Week 1 almost fully digested. And those Oddsmakers have Cleveland and five other teams—including the Chicago Bears (200/1, William Hill)—now priced lower than Tennessee. Why? It’s simple. There are more NFL bettors than ever before, more technology and more awareness of Futures Book markets, thus, more (over-) reaction to every little thing, like the Browns 31-10 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, although the quick injury to Cleveland starting QB Josh McCown and the thrusting of second-year man Johnny Manziel (13/24, 182 yards, TD) into The Fire can’t be understated. The heat is on in Cleveland and Week 2 hasn’t even started brother. Besides McCown (Concussion, Questionable), LB Scott Solomon (Ankle, Questionable) left the loss on Sunday with an injury while new WR Dwayne Bowe (Free Agent, Chiefs; Hamstring), LB Nate Orchard (Back), DB Justin Gilbert (Hip) are all listed as Questionable for this game on Sunday. Toss in WR Josh Gordon (Suspension, out season), RB Robert Turbin (Ankle, expected to return mid-October) and six other guys on the I-R List and this is a Browns team which could, and maybe already has, some Depth problems. And who is behind the banged-up McCown and the fledgling Manziel at QB should the latter get hurt you ask? That would be Thaddeus Lewis, as Connor Shaw (Thumb) is one of those cats on the I-R. Football. Always with the guys not being able to play because they actually played a game so tough that injuries are basically a large and presumed part of it. Why Depth and proper Scouting matter. Expect McCown (5/8, 49 yards vs. Jets before Concussion) to be ready to go if he has to, but for now (Monday), Browns HC Mike Pettine (9-7-1 ATS) has named Manziel his starter. And a player to watch for the Brownies? How about WR Travis Benjamin (3 receptions, 89 yards, TD vs. Jets), a diminutive (5-10, 175 pounds) fourth-year man out of Miami-Florida.
Series Trends and Expectations
The scuffling Browns have now L5 straight dating back to last season, but even though the Oddsmakers have come stronger with the Titans, Tennessee was still just 1-7 on the Road last season, is playing with a Rookie QB and is playing its first Road game of the season. But besides all that jazz, all other relevant signs point toward taking the small Road Underdog Titans here. The last time these two teams met was in Week 5 in Nashville last season where the Browns won 29-28 as 1-point Underdogs to Push the ATS number. In the Department of Trends, the Titans are 4-1 ATS L5 vs. the Browns in Cleveland, and with Rookie QB Mariota gaining valuable confidence every day and Manziel still being Manziel-ish (2 Fumbles, 1 Interception on Sunday), the visitors can definitely win this game here and are worth a look on the Moneyline as is taking the Titans +2½ (Wynn Las Vegas, SIA) if you can find it. Tennessee is feeling good about itself while Cleveland is going in the other direction. And, as mentioned here last week, the Browns have the Oakland Raiders (Home), San Diego Chargers (Away), Baltimore Ravens (Away) and Denver Broncos (Home) all coming up immediately on the schedule in Weeks 3-6, so a Loss here to the Titans means an 0-6 start and talks of a new Head Coach may boil over (Mike Pettine to be First NFL Head Coach Fired +585, 5Dimes). The pressure is on in Cleveland, and with Manziel possibly being that guy trying to take that early Regular Season pressure off, this simply seems like a good NFL pick to back the Titans. And you don’t get to hear that often.
Predicted Final Score: Tennessee Titans 24 Cleveland Browns 20
Free NFL MLB: Titans Moneyline +105 at BetOnline