On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns take on the Detroit Lions in Week 11. Below, we analyze a few advantages, disadvantages, or general thoughts about the two teams before getting to our predictions for the game.
Don’t Just Put it Behind You
- The Browns have been exposed by several teams this year, and no more than against the New England Patriots last week. A few players spoke up after the game and hinted at their displeasure. Players still need to ultimately execute, but we know how bad the in-game adjustments have been, and there can be some good to them speaking up.
- There are times when you just “put a loss behind you” and move on. While Cleveland could probably get away with that against the Lions, you would hope that the coaching staff took this past week as a reflection opportunity — a chance to really study what the Browns’ weaknesses have been, and how to cover them up.
- Detroit has not won a game this year, but keep in mind that it took a record-breaking field goal from Justin Tucker to beat them at the last second, and they nearly beat the Steelers last week in a game that ended in a tie. With two games coming up against the Ravens, this would typically be one of those, “Uh-oh, what if we overlook the Lions?” type of situations. However, I don’t think that applies this week. The Browns were embarrassed last week, and they probably don’t give a shit about the Ravens heading into this week’s game: they want to beat the hell out of the Lions and focus on getting back on track. That’s a good thing for avoiding the possibility of overlooking a winless team.
Nick Chubb & Demetric Felton Return
- On Friday, the Browns announced that Nick Chubb and Demetric Felton are back from COVID-19. In particular, Chubb was sorely missed during last week’s game against the Patriots (although I think even he wouldn’t have been able to make much of a difference).
- This week, the Browns face a Lions team that allows a lot of rushing yards per game (135.7, ranked 30th in the NFL), but they aren’t so bad in the yards per carry department (4.36 YPC, ranked 18th in the NFL). Still, that, combined with their pass defense, makes them a vulnerable group that is allowing 28.9 points per game, second worst in the NFL.
- On the other side of the ball, the Lions haven’t been a very potent offense, and Jared Goff has been very disappointing. Goff hasn’t practiced the past two days with an oblique injury, but will try to throw on Friday. His status might be clarified after this post goes live, but for now, we have to think about the possibility of backup Tim Boyle making the start. Boyle was an undrafted free agent who spent three seasons in Green Bay. This year, he’s been on IR with a thumb injury for the Lions, but was just activated. He has a big arm, but obviously hasn’t had a ton of practice reps, and virtually no game reps in the NFL outside of the preseason. One would hope that presents an advantage for the Browns’ defense.
- It is expected that LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah will have his reps increased this week.
- CB Troy Hill should be out with a neck injury. It is unclear who will be the team’s nickelback. CB Greedy Williams is expected to return, but I’d expect him to be the backup outside cornerback. My bet will be on CB M.J. Stewart, who saw action at nickelback last year.
- WR Donovan Peoples-Jones has been battling a groin injury, but returned to practice on Friday with the hopes that he can play Sunday.
- According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Browns are 12-point favorites against the Lions on Sunday.
Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.
Chris Pokorny: “With how inconsistent teams are in the NFL, my mind is blown as to how I managed to win a 6-game parlay back in Week 2. Nothing can be taken for granted, especially with a team as inconsistent as the Browns have been. If Cleveland runs the ball nearly every down, though, and faces either Goff or Boyle, I like the Browns’ odds to not only win, but cover the spread.” Browns 31, Lions 14
rufio: “I agree with EZ: we were just outcoached top to bottom in that game. When we were on defense, the Patriots clearly just wanted to take Myles and Jadeveon out of the game, and they did that by mixing up so many draws, screens, sweeps, and inside runs. Myles was never sure whether to rush the passer, crash down to take away the run, expand wide with jet motion, etc. He was blocked by RBs, the LT, pulling guards, he was cracked by WRs, he was chipped, he was cut blocked, he was invited upfield only for a screen to develop....In one of few obvious dropback passing situations, he got his sack, and then they shredded us with a screen for a first down on 3rd and 13 the very next play.
I haven’t looked at the other side of the ball’s film yet, but the Belichick 3-4 is basically designed to take away our identity: it is structurally very good against zone runs, and their mix of coverages is tough for a timing-based, ball-control passing game (our WCO variant). We found some early success by going away from zone runs and hitting plays like Power, but the Pats adjusted and it didn’t seem like we had an answer.
The talent is still there, but this Browns team has been extraordinarily up and down. Thankfully, the Lions have been largely down. I have watched too much Lions football this year, and they are not the kind of hopelessly outmatched 0-8 team that we’ve seen from the Hue-era Browns, they have been mostly good at hanging around late in games. Don’t expect a blowout, but we should win this one.” Browns 24, Lions 20
Barry Shuck: “The Browns against the winless Lions? A shoe-in for a win? Maybe. On the surface you want to assume Cleveland will handle business on both sides of the ball, but who knows with this club? Dominates Cincinnati and then the Patriots run all over them. Detroit is 30th against the run. The Browns are the NFL’s leading rushing team. That would equate to let’s say 50 rushing attempts for the offense, correct? Hold on. Against New England, D’Ernest Johnson rushed for 58-yards in the opening drive, then finished the game with just 90-yards. Why this offense suddenly drops the running game and feels like it must pass instead is a mystery to me. Against Detroit, this game is tailor-made to run for over 250-yards, so why don’t they? Why wouldn’t they? If Stefanski sticks to this game plan, expect a large Cleveland win. If he abandons it (like in so many games this year) expect the game to be close and just might go either way. Yes, you read that right. The Lions have been blown out three games while the rest of their schedule they lost by 12-points or less. They should have beaten the Steelers and they just might get their first win if this Browns defense doesn’t come through.” Browns 31, Lions 14
Ezweav: “So uh…yeah. That one last week was rough. Judging by the general media coverage over the last week it seems that it’s time to basically fold the franchise and take up some other hobby.
What it looked like to my eyes was not that we lacked talent to hang with the Patsies but rather that we were just thoroughly outcoached at every stage of the operation. I mean how many end-around/reverse type plays did they run, with all of them working? Belichick just owned Stefanski and hey, there are worse coaches to have been owned by.
To the rescue comes the Detroit Lions; who’ve been about as bad as you can be and still be considered a “pro” football team. They’ll not be as coordinated as were the Belichickians and I suspect we’re going to be madder’n a wet hen WITH a bee in its bonnet after getting throat-punched last week. We’ll still have problems but will feel a lot better about them after this one.” Browns 40, Lions 10
Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.