If you were at the Cleveland Browns versus Tennessee Titans season opener last season at First Energy Stadium, you might recall how the high energy of the crowd that afternoon deflated so quickly after Titans star running back Derrick Henry took a measly screen pass from Titans QB Marcus Mariota down the left sideline 75 yards for the score and a 22-13 lead over the Browns.
Titans’ Henry did a lot in that game to help secure a victory in what, for at least half the game, was close. He scored multiple times and was difficult for the Browns defenders to drag down all afternoon.
On the Browns side of the ball, they had many of the same players they have now including QB Baker Mayfield, WR Jarvis Landry and DE Myles Garrett. They also had running back Nick Chubb. Chubb had a decent game including 17 carries for 75 yards. Much of the second half the Browns abandoned the running game and let Mayfield sling the ball all over the field including three interceptions that led the Titans to change a tight game into a blowout where the Browns lost, 43-13.
A year later, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, where every week since March we don’t quite know what to plan for especially with our sports teams, the Browns and Titans find themselves getting ready for a big game against each other with both teams having impressive 8-3 marks.
What happens on Sunday is up for much debate, but the Derrick Henry versus Nick Chubb battle might come down to Browns other star running back Kareem Hunt.
Last year, Hunt was suspended for the game and the Browns’ first half of the season because of his problems off the field.
This season, both Chubb and Hunt have run for over 700 yards each and likely will both reach 1000 rushing yards on the season. Their styles complement one another. They both run hard, always falling forward for that extra yard. When you read about each of their personalities, though, that shows stark differences. Chubb is always described as a quiet individual who doesn’t show much emotion but just works hard all the time. Hunt, on the other hand, is described as loud, loves to talk and exudes emotion.
I like to think of them as fire and ice!
Having this dynamic duo in the backfield for the Browns will certainly play a bigger role in the outcome of this important game compared to a year ago in Cleveland. The Browns are winning games this year because they are managing their plays much better and using their talented backfield by pounding the ball down other teams’ throats.
I expect that ground game to continue this game for both teams. The advantage the Browns have is two stars and Derrick Henry is still just one star. If the Browns defense can bend but not break and maybe force a turnover or two, especially now getting Browns DE Myles Garrett back to create havoc for the Titans offensive line, then I think the Browns win the game.
Last year’s game where the Browns lost control in the second half due to Derrick Henry’s big screen pass touchdown rumble and Browns’ Baker Mayfield throwing three interceptions isn’t going to happen this year.
Instead look for ice in his veins Chubb and fire in his belly Hunt to carry the Browns to victory!