This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns take on the Washington Commanders in Week 17. Below, we analyze a few advantages, disadvantages, or general thoughts about the two teams before getting to our predictions for the game.
Will There be Enough Motivation?
- Plenty of teams play spoiler each week in the NFL, but I think it becomes a little more difficult for a team that was a relative disappointment (the Browns this season) and are now officially eliminated from playoff contention.
- Motivation won't be a problem for Deshaun Watson, who wants to get better heading into the offseason. And I think the offense in general will still bring their A-game, even if that hasn't resulted in many touchdowns lately. However, I am expecting a big letdown as the game goes on from the defense.
- I see Washington running the ball through Cleveland’s defense that just lost yet another linebacker. They won't be dumb enough to keep passing the ball with a quarterback they don't necessarily trust but are starting (Carson Wentz). Washington has a lot to play for since they are holding onto the 7th seed in the NFC. Even if they are a little banged up, I put a lot of weight into the motivational factor, and I see the defense falling flat or being a bit disinterested as the game goes on.
Will the Offense Save Us?
- But maybe the offense will save the Browns this week. It sounds so weird to say that Deshaun Watson has looked pretty good the past few weeks, and yet the offense is still struggling to get one touchdown on the board. Meanwhile, you have Baker Mayfield spot-starting for a bad Rams team and throwing a 50-spot on the board.
- Why has Cleveland gotten so bad at finishing drives offensively, though? Last week, you could see that the Browns desperately wanted to attack downfield, even with the wind conditions. It makes sense for them to be aggressive through the air this week, especially with the Commanders being hurt a little defensively. If Stefanski wants to have a game that he goes pass-happy, then fine, why not let this be it to keep Washington on their heels? I care about running the ball when it can help lead to a playoff berth. Since that is out the window now, I'd almost rather see Watson gun it all day to get a glimpse of what's to come.
- The weather will be much better this week, with it being almost in the 60s.
- Is there a chance we see the Browns attempt a fake punt or fake field goal this week? Look out for it.
- According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Browns are 2.5-point underdogs to the Commanders.
Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.
Chris Pokorny: “The motivation aspect just keeps playing in my mind from what I've seen over the years from the Browns, as well as the defense wearing down at times. I'll take the Commanders in a close one. Commanders 20, Browns 17
Jared Mueller: “There is less that I have confidence in than the Cleveland Browns defense except, perhaps, for Carson Wentz. Wentz has been a flash in the pan in a variety of spots already in his career and isn’t someone that can be trusted. With Antonio Gibson not practicing for the first two days of the week and numerous other Commanders dealing with injuries, perhaps Cleveland’s defense can be respectable and get some turnovers.
On the other side of the ball, Deshaun Watson has to have a breakout game or two to end the season so why not this week? The havoc that Washington’s defensive line can cause Cleveland’s offensive line is scary but this is the week that Watson finds his footing.” Browns 30, Commanders 27
Matt Wood: “I think this is a big game for perceptions. Do the Browns come out and just lay an egg? If they do the questions surrounding KS increase. I don’t think he is in trouble but if the Browns come out and get blasted, you really feel like Jimmy Haslam will just shrug it off?
Can the offense show some signs of life? Come in, get on track and put up some points? Washington has a good DL and it gets better with Chase coming back.
We saw signs of Watson making some major throws at the end of the Saints game. Was that a glimmer of things to come? I think it is…Browns get it going and start to end the season on the right track.” Browns 31, Commanders 16
Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.