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Browns vs Titans: 3 things to watch in Week 3’s AFC matchup

Jerome Ford, Deshaun Watson, Derrick Henry among keys to the game

Syndication: The Tennessean Andrew Nelles / via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Before we dive into this Week 3 matchup between the Tennessee Titans and the Cleveland Browns this upcoming Sunday, a short point to Browns fans as Aaron Rodgers said, R-E-L-A-X.

Yes, Monday night’s loss was deflating but it’s Week 3. Stop arguing over social media about who was right and who’s wrong about the quarterback and let’s move on.

After having the primetime slot last week, Cleveland is back on the NFL on CBS for a 1:00 pm kickoff with fan favorites Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta and Aditi Kinkhabwala on the call.

Here are three things we are watching for:

How Cleveland responds to adversity after losing Nick Chubb for the season

It sounds cliche (and it is), but you know how good a team can be when you respond to adversity. Losing running back Nick Chubb to a season ending injury hurts not only the team but the fanbase. Replacing him is not possible, but bringing back running back Kareem Hunt is a morale boost for a locker room that needed it.

What Cleveland lacked last year was veteran leadership, this year they have it with the players that they brought in to join a few holdovers. From the interviews the players conducted Monday night after the game up to midday Thursday, the players are looking ahead to the challenge that is in front of them.

How the team comes out on Sunday will be huge. Will they come out with a point to prove or will they come out flat still lingering from Monday night?

It’s early in the season but Cleveland will have to respond to the adversity that has hit them.

Look for the Titans rushing offense to test the Browns run defense

It’s early but Cleveland’s run defense is much improved than last season. Sunday, the Browns defensive line will be tested. Despite their issues in pass protection, the running game is where the Titans are well known. Rookie offensive guard Peter Skoronski is out for this game and guard Dillon Radunz filled in after undrafted rookie Xavier Newman-Johnson was benched.

Overall, this offensive line is not the best but Cleveland shouldn’t take this group lightly.

Running back Derrick Henry is one of the best running backs in the league. Before Chubb overtook him Henry was considered to be the best running back in the league.

Henry can run through you, he can get to that 2nd level but it’s not with breakaway speed that you would see from the other top-tier backs. The Browns defensive line must maintain their gap integrity, run fits will have to be sound with everyone rallying to the football and doing their best to stop Henry.

Tennessee’s passing game isn’t necessarily the best, there is talent there with wide receivers Treylon Burks & DeAndre Hopkins, and tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo but quarterback Ryan Tannehill seems to be on his last leg. Stop the run, and force the Titans to pass.

Will the real Deshaun Watson please stand up?

Quarterback Deshaun Watson had a rough night on Monday. He was terrible. He didn’t look like himself throughout the night: He was late with his reads, not seeing the field and losing his composure with two facemask penalties.

Watson has entered uncharted territory. We have seen what Watson can do and he has worked hard to get back to what he was in Houston before he sat out for a season. Currently, Watson has the fanbase unsettled due to his play and it has led to some really unnecessary drama over social media. The offense has to be better and it starts with Watson.

If Watson believes in himself, then that’s a good thing. Self-belief goes a long way. Trust that the quarterback can get back into form won’t come until it is shown Trust that the offense can believe in what they are doing and execute at a high level is key for the players around Watson.

The ability to not think and just go out there and play is crucial for a successful offense. Watson has the opportunity to shut a lot of people up on Sunday. Tennessee’s passing defense statistically isn’t great, they are 25th in Dropback EPA/per play, but the defensive back room has some talented players in Sean Murphy-Bunting and safeties Kevin Byard and Amani Hooker roaming the backend. Watson has a chance to re-establish himself this upcoming Sunday.

What are you on the lookout for this Sunday from the Browns and Titans?