KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: CBS, Don Criqui, Steve Beuerlein
SERIES: 60th meeting. Browns lead the series 32-27. Cleveland has won the last two meetings, the most recent a 31-28 OT game in 2002.
2005 RANKINGS: Titans: offense 18th (20th rush, 13th pass); defense 16th (12th rush, 15th pass). Browns: offense 26th (25th rush, 22nd pass); defense 24th (27th rush, 19th pass)
PREDICTION: Browns 19-14
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Browns have held their past five opponents under 20 points, but they are 1-4 during that span because their offense is struggling mightily. The weakness of the Titans' defense is in their pair of rookie starting cornerbacks (Adam "Pacman" Jones and Reynaldo Hill), but Browns QB Trent Dilfer has struggled the past month. The Browns will lean on RB Reuben Droughns (5.1 yards per carry past two games) early, and he must carry the load with backups Lee Suggs and William Green likely out. Tennessee's offense also needs production from RBs Chris Brown and Travis Henry. The Browns will almost certainly load up to stuff the run with the Titans frighteningly thin at wide receiver and TE Ben Troupe also hurting.
FAST FACTS: Titans: QB Steve McNair needs 14 rushing yards to pass John Elway (3,407) for fourth-most all-time among quarterbacks. ... Team is 39-1 (.975) when entering the fourth quarter with a lead under coach Jeff Fisher. Browns: Have allowed only one touchdown in five consecutive games. ... Have allowed just eight touchdowns in 22 red-zone possessions by opponents.
- QB Steve McNair (back) took the full load at the Titans' Thursday practice, which was pushed back to the evening and held at the Coliseum. He said he felt good.
- WR Drew Bennett (left thumb) is out of the Titans game in Cleveland.
- WR Brandon Jones (knee) did some work with the receivers early in Thursday's practice but did not work in full team periods.
- LB Peter Sirmon (ankle) was held out practice for the second day in a row on Thursday.
- FB Troy Fleming (ankle) is expected to return to the lineup in Cleveland after missing three games with an ankle injury.
- TE Ben Troupe is dealing with a high ankle sprain and was in an immobilizing boot for the second day in a row on Thursday.
- DT Albert Haynesworth has not been himself because of calf and knee injuries, but he's not on the injury report this week, which should be a good sign.
- CB Andre Woolfolk (hamstring) ran on the side during the Titans' practice Thursday. If he does play in Cleveland he will work as the nickel back, if he doesn't Michael Waddell will fill that role.
- G Joe Andruzzi missed a day of practice on Wednesday after hurting his knee in the loss to Houston. Andruzzi was fortunate he was not seriously injured when he was twisted over a pile, and if there's any way he can play against Tennessee he will.
- DE Alvin McKinley hyperextended an elbow in the loss to Houston and is listed as questionable. His absence would be noticed. McKinley has been a pleasant surprise in the 3-4 defense after moving from tackle in the 4-3.
- S Chris Crocker is listed as questionable on the injury report, but probably will play against Tennessee. The dropoff if he can't play would be significant. Second-year player Sean Jones has struggled, and Brodney Pool is still a rookie.
- WR Braylon Edwards, the team's first-round pick, now is part of a three-for-two rotation at the position, coach Romeo Crennel said. Edwards' playing time will increase as he alternates with Dennis Northcutt opposite Antonio Bryant.
- QB Trent Dilfer appears to have grown weary of the criticism he's heard the last few weeks. Dilfer has nine turnovers the last four games, but for the season his passer rating is above his career figure.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
Titans: Titans rookie cornerback Pacman Jones hopes he leaves Cleveland Sunday with a little souvenir from Braylon Edwards.
Edwards, the Browns' rookie receiver, was drafted third overall, three spots ahead of Jones.
"He called me (Tuesday) night talking trash," Jones said. "We had made a bet before the draft that if he scored on me he'd get to keep my chain, if he don't, I get to keep his chain. He's got a king chain, I can't really explain it. It spins. It's a pretty nice chain, it's going to look good on me."
In Nashville, Jones has gotten a lot of negative attention after an extended training camp holdout and some struggles early on for a team that's 2-6 at the midway point.
"I'm going to get blamed for everything this year, so I've go to suck that up and be a man about it, but I'm all right, I'm not really complaining to nobody," he said. "... At the end of the day, I'm going to be one of the best ones to come through here. I just feel it's coming, that's all I can tell you."
The Browns will have bigger concerns than defense with Jones.
A week after he exploded on two big punt returns against Oakland, he'll face the NFL's worst punt coverage unit, which gives Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel plenty to ponder.
"You better believe it is (a concern)," Crennel said. "And we're working on
it. Pacman, he poses some problems, because he has tremendous athletic ability,
a knack for making guys miss, and then he just has that feel for finding that
open lane and he can get to it. So, we're going to have to be on the top of our
game to be able to slow him down."
Browns: The Browns will be thin at running back when they play the Titans Sunday at home.
William Green is doubtful with an ankle sprain, and Lee Suggs is out with a broken thumb.
That leaves Reuben Droughns as the team's only healthy back.
Droughns has run well this season, but he was arrested for an alleged DUI this past week. How that affects him remains to be seen.
The other concern: The Browns have re-committed to the running game the past
two games, and doing that they used Green to spell Droughns. Without Green,
Droughns may see a lot more time.