Time: 1:00 pm, Sunday, December 7, 2008
Location: LP Field, Nashville, Tennessee
Network, Announcers: CBS- Don Criqui and Dan "Bad Call!" Fouts.
Line: Titans by fourteen.
Team W/L Records: Cleveland is 4-8; the Titans are 11-1
Coaches: Romeo Crennel is 24-36 in his fourth season with the Browns; Jeff Fisher is 124-99 in his fifteenth season with the "Oil-Tans."
Last Week for the Browns: Completed their transformation from team-with-quarterback-controversy to team-without-quarterback-period in a 10-6 loss to the Colts at CBS.
Last Week for the Titans: Got their pound of flesh at the expense of the winless Lions in a 47-10 Thanksgiving Day wipeout.
All-Time Series: Titans lead 5-3.
Last Meeting: November 6, 2005- Veteran Titans-killer Dennis Northcutt struck again with 121 total yards on a reverse and three receptions, including the 58-yard touchdown that opened the scoring in the first quarter. Ruben Droughns chipped in with 116 rushing yards as the Browns hung on to defeat Tennessee, 20-14 at CBS.
Out or Questionable for Tennessee: Cornerback Courtland Finnegan (hamstring), cornerback Nick Harper (ankle), and quarterback Vince Young (right thumb) are questionable.
Out or Questionable for Cleveland: Tight end Kellen Winslow (ankle) is out; fullback Charles Ali (ankle) is doubtful; linebacker Beau Bell (knee), tight end Darnell Dinkins (ankle), defensive tackle Shaun Smith (calf), wide receiver Syndric Steptoe (ankle), and defensive end Corey Williams (shoulder) are questionable.
What to watch for the Titans: It isn't complicated. The Titans are 11-1 and can clinch at least a tie for the AFC South title with a win. Second-place Indianapolis (8-4) hosts the lousy Bengals, which means help probably won't be coming from that quarter. Tennessee has no reason to come out flat. They certainly didn't look flat against the Lions a week ago. Facing a battered, demoralized opponent, the Titans should simply need to avoid mistakes in order to get win number twelve.
What to watch for the Browns: Can the defense, so opportunistic early in the season and against the Colts last week, return to the well and force some turnovers? Can the return team generate some big plays and turn field position in Cleveland's favor? Can the offense coax a few well-timed pass interference, holding, and personal foul penalties from the rough Titans defense? The Browns won't win, probably won't compete, on the golden right arm of Ken Dorsey. The only way they'll have a chance is by making the Titans as bad as they are, if only for three hours.
Good Past Win over the Titans: December 30, 2001- Tim Couch had one of his finest days, going 20-of-27 for 336 yards and three touchdowns, as the Browns rallied past the Titans 41-38 in the Outdoor Arena Formerly Known as Adelphia Coliseum. Tennessee led 38-24 in the fourth quarter, but Cleveland scored 17 points in the last eight minutes, capping the comeback with Phil Dawson's 44-yard game-winner at the gun.
Bad Past Loss to the Titans: September 19, 1999- Tennessee took a 2-0 first-quarter lead on Eddie Robinson's end-zone sack of Tim Couch, and with Steve McNair picking apart the Cleveland secondary and the feeble Browns offense shut down, the Super Bowl-bound Titans ran away to an easy 26-9 victory. The new Browns scored their first points as a franchise on Phil Dawson's second-quarter field goal, and added their first touchdown on Couch's 39-yard bomb to Kevin Johnson in the third quarter.
Next Week for Both Teams: Tennessee goes to Houston; the Browns go to Philadelphia for a Monday-Night meeting with the Eagles.
Trivia: Jeff Fisher is one of a few active NFL head coaches who have coached in Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Fisher's last trip to the Muni, on November 5, 1995, was memorable, for all the wrong reasons. It was the first game since word of the Move went public. The Browns committed five turnovers and were routed by Fisher's Houston Oilers, 37-10, as Art Modell skulked somewhere outside Cleveland. The Houston franchise was, of course, having problems of its own; following the season Bud Adams would announce the move to Nashville. Jeff Fisher, through it all, has kept his job.