Today, the Cleveland Browns take on the Green Bay Packers in Week 16. Below, we analyze a few advantages, disadvantages, or general thoughts about the two teams before getting to our predictions for the game.
This Week’s COVID Situation
- The news is half good, half bad for the Cleveland Browns this week when it comes to their COVID-19 situation. Let’s start with the good news: on offense, QB Baker Mayfield is back, along with WR Jarvis Landry. TE Austin Hooper and OL James Hudson are also back.
- And now, the bad news on the offensive line: C JC Tretter is out, and LT Jedrick Wills didn’t clear the protocol in time. That means we’re probably looking at Joel Bitonio at left tackle, Blake Hance at left guard, Nick Harris at center, Wyatt Teller at right guard, and James Hudson at right tackle. For those wondering why the run blocking hasn’t been better, let it hit you that we only have 2 of our 5 highly-talented offensive linemen available now.
- On defense, DE Myles Garrett is banged up with a groin injury. DE Jadeveon Clowney did not clear the protocol, and DE Takk McKinley is out for the year with an injury. The depth on the line is very thin heading into this game, and QB Aaron Rodgers is unlikely to face pressure you’d think. Up front, DT Malik McDowell remains out too, and DT Jordan Phillips hit the COVID list this week too, so the depth up the middle remains thinner too.
- Grant Delpit returns for the Browns at safety, while Ronnie Harrison is out. Greg Newsome also remains out. The team does get LB Jacob Phillips back, along with DE Ifeadi Odenigbo and CB A.J. Green.
The Packers Prevailing
- The Packers’ offensive line has dealt with injuries all season, and continue to do so this week. Despite that, though, the unit has continued to thrive. With Cleveland being short their edge rushes and Myles Garrett hurting, combined with Aaron Rodgers’ quarterbacking ability, it’s hard to envision getting to him very much.
- What is kind of crazy is the fact that this will be the first time the Browns have faced Rodgers since 2013. He missed the 2017 game to injury.
- How could the Browns beat Rodgers? If there’s any chance, I think they need to have big games from three players who can utilize their speed to make big plays: LB Jacob Phillips, LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, and S Grant Delpit.
- The Packers are allowing 31 points per game during their last 4 games, as they’ve shown some cracks on defense and special teams after thriving to begin the year. The Browns are averaging just 15 points per game in their last 4 games.
- We saw Jamie Gillan officially get replaced this week by Dustin Colquitt. Colquitt doesn’t seem to have the biggest leg right now, but he has been great at getting the ball inside the 10 if Cleveland gets in a good punting situation. Could the same replacement happen this week at kicker? Chase McLaughlin is out due to COVID, meaning Chris Naggar will kick for the Browns. He’s been on the practice squad all year, so let’s see what he’s made of.
- As far as playoff hopes go, heading into last week’s game against the Raiders, the feeling was that if Cleveland could go 3-1, they’d be in great shape for the playoffs. We expected that loss to come to the Packers, but then COVID hit and the Browns lost to the Raiders, arguably the most winnable game. They have an uphill battle against the Packers, but if Cleveland can pull off some magic, they’d be right back in it. Think of all the times that the Browns had hot starts to games last season that propelled them to victory. This year, we’ve only seen that magic once, against the Bengals. Can we rekindle it? I’m not betting on it, but I damn sure and hoping for it.
- According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Browns are 7.5-point underdogs against the Packers.
Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.
Chris Pokorny: “I picked the Chiefs to beat the Browns in Week 1, and have aimlessly picked the Browns to win every game since then. I knew way back when the schedule was released who I’d pick on the Christmas Day game, though — how can you bet against Aaron Rodgers? Cleveland’s defense has been playing very well, so it’d be fantastic if they could somehow hold Rodgers in check, get some surprising turnovers, and then the offense rebounds with an explosive effort, but that’s too many ifs against one of the best in the game. I’ll take Green Bay to win.” Packers 27, Browns 17
Barry Shuck: “I realize the Browns are up against the fence wearing shackles, the baby is crying and the pizza is getting cold. Look at the last seven games - Cleveland is averaging scoring a paltry 11 points a game. Seriously. With Baker, without Baker, this guy hurt, these players out, new dude here and there, Myles not playing, and on and on. And someone out there believes that Green Bay will slip up and somehow overlook the Browns? And then lose? Or “the Browns want it more”? Or they will play “angry”? If they wanted it more, why have these guys waited until the bleakness set in?
Except for the Bengals game, name one win that was impressive. Anyone? They barely beat the middle and lower pack and cannot, cannot, cannot defeat the elite this year.
You do know the Packers are the Number 1 rated passing offense in the entire league, right? On defense Green Bay sits ninth against the pass and 12th in rushing defense. Which is all Cleveland has currently. Sometimes. Maybe. Depends.
Who is the Number 1 seed in the NFC and the only NFL club to clinch anything at this point? Yeh, Green Bay. Don’t you assume that the Number 1 seed and keeping it will be on the Packers’ mind front-and-center? I am just going to pick the Patriots finale as the game score: Packers 45, Browns 7. Now where is that cold pizza?” Packers 45, Browns 7
Thomas Moore: “For the first time all season, it is hard to see a way for the Browns to win this game. At best they keep it close, come out of the game in good health, get some help in a few other games, and head into the final two weeks of the season with the division title still a possibility.” Packers 31, Browns 14
Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.