As we reach Tuesday of Christmas week, we look to turn the page from last week’s Saturday win against the Baltimore Ravens and look forward to this Saturday’s game against the New Orleans Saints. The Cleveland Browns last home game of the 2022 season could be played in the blistering cold and wind that many associate with playing on the shores of Lake Erie.
In Week 15, the Ravens put up a poor performance on offense without Lamar Jackson while their defense mostly held Cleveland’s passing offense in check but gave up 143 yards on the ground. Cleveland’s defense did a great job against Tyler Huntley but still gave up almost 200 yards rushing (198) on 7.1 yards per carry.
Turnovers carried the day for the Browns defense.
As we turn the page, this will also be our StoryStream post. Anything and everything we cover for Week 16 between Cleveland and New Orleans will appear at the bottom of this post.
A few questions going from Week 15 to Week 16:
Can the defense stop the run?
Some fantasy football playoffs will be decided by which team has a running back going against the Browns defense. While the scores have improved the last few weeks, much is do to the poor play of the other team but, on the whole, rushing offenses have eaten up Cleveland’s defense this year.
The Saints are in the bottom half of the league in rushing offense but Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram and even TE Taysom Hill could flourish this week.
Speaking of Hill, how many trick plays will NO run?
The Browns defense is often too aggressive and get taken advantage of with counters, reverses and misdirections. Hill is a versatile player who has rushed the ball 68 times and thrown it 17 times. As a pass catcher, he also has seven receptions.
Will the Saints take advantage of Cleveland’s overeager approach on defense with a few trick plays involving Hill?
Can Browns throw on Saints stingy defense?
New Orleans is giving up just 195.1 yards per game in the air. With the playoffs almost entirely out of reach, getting QB Deshaun Watson up to speed in the passing game is key for Cleveland the rest of the year.
Will HC Kevin Stefanski focus on what is best for Watson’s development by throwing the ball despite the Saints giving up 132.6 yards per game on the ground? Winning is vital but Watson learning to throw near the lake is more important long term.
Andy Dalton comes back to Ohio, experience matter?
It feels like a decade ago that Dalton was the starting quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals. Dalton started his final games as an Ohio starting quarterback back in 2019. He has a lot of experience playing in the cold weather and, in particular, in FirstEnergy Stadium. Will his experience make a big difference?
Cold and wind impact everything?
Christmas Eve. Playoffs hopes are down to 1% and, now, the weather forecast has many wondering about how this game is going to go:
As it has been when severe weather has been a factor, very little can be read into the way this game goes. It is rare, lately, for significant cold and snow to impact Cleveland’s games but is always a possibility late in December and early January.
Many will judge Watson, K Cade York and the rest of the Browns players based on how they play in an extreme weather game despite the rarity of the occasion. Many fans won’t be in the stands because of the weather and Christmas holiday but those that are in attendance get a chance to cheer on their team at home one last time this year.