CBS Sports - No. 13 (no change)
The defense just dominated the Cardinals in shutting them out with seven sacks. They didn’t really need Deshaun Watson back, even though he did play.
ESPN - No. 10 (up 2 spots)
Non-QB MVP: DE Myles Garrett
Garrett has gone from perennial All-Pro to front-runner for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He is tied for second in the league with 9.5 sacks, spearheading one of the NFL’s top defenses. Last month, Garrett became the first player this millennium to finish a game with two sacks, two forced fumbles and a blocked field goal, as he almost single-handedly carried the Browns to a win over the Colts. Despite several injuries to its offense, Cleveland is in the thick of the playoff picture. Garrett is the biggest reason.
NFL.com - No. 10 (up 2 spots)
The Browns had five scoring marches against Arizona, but the starting field positions on the TD drives were the Arizona 49-yard line, the Arizona 11 and the Cleveland 44. That final drive featured a 49-yard dime from Deshaun Watson to Amari Cooper; earlier, they connected for 59. Those two passes represented nearly half of Watson’s passing yards Sunday, but they’re the plays that provide hope this air attack can elevate, with the playoffs now clearly in sight. The AFC North is an absolute bear, with every team two-plus games over .500 and each possessing a good defense. The Browns know their passing game will be put to the test these next two weeks (at Baltimore, vs. Steelers). It’s as good a time as any to prove they can throw to win.
Sporting News - No. 10 (up 4 spots)
The Browns got Deshaun Watson back from his shoulder injury and although he didn’t do a lot, he did enough to facilitate a running game and defense-fueled walkover. He needs to play much better with Jackson and the Ravens next.
Yahoo Sports - No. 10 (up 2 spots)
It’s hard to take anything from the Browns’ performance because the Cardinals were absolutely miserable. The good news is Deshaun Watson looked healthy. As long as there are no setbacks he should stabilize Cleveland’s offense.
Bleacher Report - No. 12 (up 3 spots)
Cleveland’s blowout win over the Arizona Cardinals comes with something of an asterisk—the Redbirds have been ravaged by injuries on offense and rolled out a rookie quarterback making his first career start. But still, Week 9 was an encouraging one, and not just because the Browns won. Cleveland’s $230 million quarterback was back in action—and Deshaun Watson had one of his better games since joining the franchise.
Watson’s numbers weren’t gaudy—19 completions in 30 attempts for 219 yards and two scores. But he was efficient and didn’t show any ill effects of the shoulder injury that has sidelined him for a chunk of the season. Watson told reporters that it felt good to be back out there with his teammates.
“This is what I’ve been preparing and training very, very hard to get back to,” he said. “Just to get out there and play free and be able to be very close to myself and just go out there and compete and have fun with my teammates. That’s what today brought.”
Cleveland’s ground game continues to be hit-or-miss without Nick Chubb—the team averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. But the defense was dominant once again, and if the Browns can keep their starting quarterback on the field, they could be a real factor in the AFC North over the season’s second half.
“The Browns rebounded nicely after their recent loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Specifically, the league’s top-ranked defense performed well after surrendering a combined 818 yards in back-to-back weeks,” Sobleski said. “Granted, this past weekend’s victory came against the hapless Arizona Cardinals, who chose to debut at fifth-round rookie at quarterback. Still, Cleveland handled its business, despite growing concerns with an offense that still doesn’t feature consistent quarterback play and lost left tackle Jedrick Wills to injury for an extended period of time. Even so, the Browns defense continues to be the difference.”
USA Today - No. 13 (no change)
Their top-ranked defense ceded 58 yards Sunday, the third fewest in franchise history. Cleveland is the first team in 41 years to hold two opponents below 100 total yards in the first eight games of a season.
Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.
What do you think of the Browns’ ranking this week?