NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans return to Nissan Stadium on Sunday to face the Browns.
Here's a look at six things to watch:
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is coming off his best game of the season. He threw three touchdown passes against the Dolphins, and ran for another. Mariota is just the second QB in NFL history to have four four-TD performances in his first 17 games. With another four-TD performance versus Cleveland, Mariota would become 1st QB to have five 4-TD games in his first 18 games in NFL history. Mariota isn't worried about the stats. The Titans just want him to keep it going.
Terrelle Pryor does just about everything for the Browns. He's done his biggest damage at receiver, where he has 24 catches for 338 yards and a touchdown. But he's also played snaps at quarterback in the Wildcat. Pryor has thrown eight passes, and he's also carried the ball seven times. Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said Pryor is capable of breaking a big one on any given play. The Titans need to keep him in check.
The Titans sacked Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill six times, and this week they'll face banged up Browns quarterback Cody Kessler, who was knocked out of last week's game against the Patriots with a rib injury. The Titans need to keep the pressure on Kessler, but it might not be quite as easy. The Browns have allowed just 13 sacks in five games. Linebacker Brian Orakpo has six sacks in five games. Can 'Rak keep racking them up?
The Browns have struggled covering tight ends this season, and not just New England's Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, who combined for 11 catches, 176 yards and three touchdowns last week. Gronkowski had five catches for 109 yards against the Browns, while Bennett scored three touchdowns. Enter Titans tight end Delanie Walker, a Pro Bowler last season who had five catches for 66 yards and a touchdown last week against Miami. This could be a big day for Walker.
OK, this can't be ignored. The Titans have allowed a punt return touchdown in back-to-back weeks against the Texans and Dolphins. The return in Houston turned out to be the game-deciding score. The Titans need to execute better on punt coverage, and tackle better. The team just can't afford to give up points – and momentum -- on special teams.
Two in a row?
The Titans have posted some – but not nearly enough -- feel-good wins in recent years, including a Week 2 win at Detroit. A year ago, the Titans won games against the Buccaneers, Saints and Jaguars. What do they all have in common? None of them were followed by another win. The Titans, in fact, have not won two games in a row since the final two games of the 2013 season. It's about time the Titans find a way to end that dreadful trend, and string together some wins.
TitansOnline.com looks back at the all-time series against the Cleveland Browns. (Photos, Donn Jones, AP)