Ugh...Here We Go Again
- The last game the Browns played featured very high winds, rain/hail/snow, and cold temperatures that forced both teams to have shaky field goal games and not be able to throw much through the air.
- In the two weeks following that game, including the bye week, the weather was beautiful in Cleveland, reaching 79-degrees on mid-November days. Of course, it figures that looking at the forecast for this Sunday, we again have winds projected to be between 25-35 MPH, with gusts up to 50 MPH. There is an 80% chance of rain, although it might clear out by the afternoon. I know Cleveland can have cold weather and snow later in the year, but it’s the high winds that make I hate to see — for either side.
Nick Chubb, Wyatt Teller, and Austin Hooper Return
- As much as the Browns’ receivers came through against the Bengals in their last victory, Jarvis Landry, Kareem Hunt, and David Njoku had key drops in the team’s loss to the Raiders. Austin Hooper returns this week as the team’s sure-handed tight end, which might help Baker Mayfield get the passing game working early on against a porous Texans’ secondary.
- But the real story here is the fact that Nick Chubb and Wyatt Teller are both making their return. I love the fact that Cleveland has Kareem Hunt, but it has been very clear over the past few weeks that Chubb is truly the better back in vision, breaking tackles, and instinct. On top of that, Teller’s run blocking to begin the season is what took the Browns’ rushing attack to another level, especially with his ability to pull from the guard position and maul defenders.
- This could be the perfect storm. One might say that Cleveland’s rushing attack wasn’t enough in the bad weather against Las Vegas, but the Texans’ defense allows 159.5 rushing yards per game, worst in the NFL, and 5.1 yards per rush, which ranks 31st in the NFL. That, combined with the return of Chubb and Teller, means Cleveland should be able to get back to their identity, regardless of the weather conditions.
- On the flip side, the Raiders beat Cleveland in the trenches. The Texans’ offensive line isn’t going to do the same thing. They rank 31st in the NFL at 87.6 yards rushing per game, and 26th with 3.96 yards per carry. Granted, Cleveland’s defense still has to be better, but a week off means that a lot of those banged up players will have fresh legs. Houston is most dangerous when DeShaun Watson is able to make plays, which plays to Cleveland’s favor if the high winds are in effect — although he has been running the ball himself more lately too.
The Texans’ Playmakers
- Starting running back David Johnson is out, which means that former Brown Duke Johnson gets a chance to start. He has 34 carries for 95 yards (2.8 YPC) on the season, to go along with 14 catches for 109 yards. As much as I like Duke, Browns fans know that he wasn’t a guy you hand the ball off to 20+ times a game.
- Although Texans fans wish they still had DeAndre Hopkins, the team still has talent at the receiving position with Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, Randall Cobb, and Darren Fells. Cooks and Fuller can especially rip off the big play.
- Don’t get me wrong, J.J. Watt is still a great player that every team has to watch out for. But because of how bad the rest of the Texans’ defense is besides him, and all of the injuries that have added up over the years, he is not the elite-caliber player he once was. He has 4 sacks on the season; Whitney Mercilus comes back this week; he has 3 sacks on the year.
Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.
Chris Pokorny: “I am putting my faith in the Browns’ rushing attack to take over the game — and even if downfield throws are hard to come by in the wind, those playaction bootlegs and the short passes off of them can be effective in the wind. It still will be a challenge for this Browns’ defense, but hopefully the fact that everyone had a week to rest mean they are fresh and ready to beat a Texans team that is 2-0 against the Jaguars and 0-6 against everyone else.” Browns 24, Texans 17
Thomas Moore: “This is the type of game that the Browns always seem to find a way to lose rather than win, but they may have already gotten that out of their system against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Texans are not playing well right now, especially on defense as they have managed to give up more points than the Browns, are allowing 5.1 yards per carry and 159.5 rushing yards per game. The Browns should be able to exploit that, especially if running back Nick Chubb and right guard Wyatt Teller return as expected. Cleveland’s defense will have problems with Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson - they struggle against any quarterback at this point - but should be able to do enough to keep Watson in check. It won’t be easy, because nothing ever is for the Browns, but Cleveland will continue its playoff push with a win.” Browns 31, Texans 24
Barry Shuck: “This is a tough call. The Texans are 31st against the run. And while Cleveland is not lighting it up like last season with Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt has not yet taken his place as the workhorse with huge numbers like he should. And he may not despite being a stud runner his first two years in the league. Now that Chubb is activated, will he pick up where he left off or show some rust? But this Texans “D” can be had in the run game. In Week 5, Derrick Henry torched them for 212 yards. Getting back Wyatt Teller is also a huge plus.
Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson is the type of player which kills the Browns’ defense with his legs. The mobile quarterback is just a problem for the front seven. Watson is rated 7th in passing and has 17 TDs to just 5 INTs - so he is on his game. However, their running game is dead last so they live and die with the passing game. Tight end Darren Fells is rated 7th among tight ends with a 14.4 yards per catch average and we all know Joe Woods’ linebackers have issues with covering TEs.
This game can go either way and on paper is Cleveland’s to take with a 5-3-0 winning record to Houston’s anemic 2-6-0 tally. The Browns this year have beaten all the bad teams and the Texans fit into that category nicely. However, the Browns have some games that they should win and don’t; and I just feel this is one of those if they cannot contain Watson’s scrambling with ability to make key third down conversations.” Texans 27, Browns 24
rufio: “Deshaun Watson scares me, but so did Dak Prescott. The Texans present some tricky matchups, but the’ve already fired their coach during the season and our defense has been able to contain some decent offenses so far this year.
In the end, Nick Chubb is back and I think our offense returns to form with a gameplan heavily based around Nick’s abilities. Browns end up winning a high scoring game.” Browns 33, Texans 30
Ezweav: “Just have zero confidence in this one. I feel like the Texans are due for something like a midseason ascension while we may be in a bit of a growing pain-funk. The Raiders proved that we can be dominated by the run game even if we know it’s coming, so I expect Houston to take full advantage. I get that their defense might be as bad as ours is but like Las Vegas they can play keep-away ball while getting 4 yards and a cloud of dust settling on a several-steps-too-late Andrew Sendejo.
We’re not a bad team, but we’re not really good yet either. This is a game we should win on paper, but unfortunately the game will be played on grass.” Texans 22, Browns 13
Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.