CBS Sports - No. 17 (up 8 spots)
ESPN - No. 23 (up 1 spot)
We’re No. 1 in ... a player’s rushing yards after contact.
Nick Chubb leads the NFL in yards after contact per rush (2.60), powering one of the top rushing attacks in the NFL. With Kareem Hunt ranking 16th in yards after contact per rush (2.03), Cleveland remains one of the best tackle-breaking rushing offenses in the league.
NFL.com - No. 20 (down 1 spot)
Deshaun Watson made his Browns debut in Sunday’s 27-14 win over the Texans and looked ... very much like a quarterback who hadn’t played a regular-season snap in 700 days. He routinely skipped passes into the turf at NRG Stadium and acknowledged after the win he profiles as a work in progress after serving a suspension for the first 11 games for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy. “It’s not going to be perfect, especially playing in December football where guys are [in Week 13], and this is Week 1 for me,” the QB said. Watson had less to say about the loud chorus of boos that rang out from what looked like a half-empty stadium — his former home venue — each time he came to the line of scrimmage on Sunday. Watson’s new reality remains a complicated one.
Sporting News - No. 20 (up 1 spot)
What was that? Deshaun Watson returned and while he struggled to get into the groove with the offense in his first start back, the defense and special teams had his back to remind one how complete a team the Browns can be when right.
Yahoo Sports - No. 19 (no change)
Deshaun Watson looked like a player who hadn’t been in a competitive game in 23 months. He wasn’t just rusty, he wasn’t even close on many throws. The Browns already might privately have some buyer’s remorse, and it will get a lot worse if Watson doesn’t regain his old form. It’s not guaranteed Watson gets it all back either.
Bleacher Report - No. 18 (up 2 spots)
It’s not that often that an NFL team scores 27 points without scoring an offensive touchdown. Or that a team rolls out a starting quarterback who hasn’t played meaningful football in 700 days. But in a weird win over the Houston Texans, the Cleveland Browns did both Sunday.
Week 13 marked the Cleveland debut of Deshaun Watson, who looked very much like a quarterback who hadn’t played a game that counts in almost two years. He had just 12 completions on 22 attempts for 131 yards with an interception and a passer rating of 53.4. But thanks to four takeaways, a punt return touchdown, a fumble return for a score and a pick-six, the Browns got past the league’s worst team for their fifth win of 2022.
The passing game may not have been clicking, but as has been the case all season, the run game was on point, with Cleveland tallying 174 yards on the ground. Davenport said that Cleveland may have little choice but to lean on Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt more than ever down the stretch.
“Given how long Watson was sidelined by last year’s contract impasse in Houston and this year’s suspension,” he said, “it’s well within reason that he’s not going to be anything close to the player he was before until 2023 (if ever—but that’s a discussion for another day). If the Browns are going to make a late playoff push, the offense is going to have to go through the ground game.”
The Ringer - No. 21 (no change)
Deshaun Watson’s Browns debut was disappointing. Not because he underwhelmed in his first start in 700 days, but because of how he and the Browns and some of their fans are handling his return to football. He’s declined to answer non-football questions, fans are showing their support—and the Browns are now 1-0 with Watson and proceeding as if it’s football business as usual. The Browns might feel vindicated after reading team- and player-friendly anonymously sourced reports of his “progress” and beating the Texans, but they shouldn’t.
Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.