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Browns vs Rams: 3 keys to watch

Joe Flacco, Matthew Stafford are two important parts to this Week 13 game

Los Angeles Rams v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It is a perfect opportunity this week for a bounce back week for the Cleveland Browns. Tough loss last week against the Denver Broncos (it happens), as Cleveland will look to end their west coast road trip on a positive note as they will visit the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.

Like last week, Cleveland is underdogs in this matchup against a solid Rams team and it is imperative that Cleveland gets a win this week in order to stay in the AFC playoff picture. Browns will play their last game on Fox, Kevin Kugler & Mark Sanchez and Laura Okmin (game will be on mute due to Sanchez) and kickoff will be at 4:25 pm.

New QB under center (again)

It seems like a recurring theme this season. Another week trying to figure out who will be under center for the Cleveland Browns. It won’t be Deshaun Watson (he’s out for the season and will be on the sideline while he rehabs in LA), Dorian Thompson-Robinson is in concussion protocol and won’t play. That leaves P.J. Walker and recently signed quarterback Joe Flacco. We’ve all seen enough of Walker, its Flacco time.

Flacco isn’t the quarterback that he once was back in Baltimore but it’s better than Walker at this point.

From how certain members of the team are talking about Flacco, they have a ton of confidence in Flacco (which again is the same thing they said about Walker but they weren’t raving this much about him.).

The last time we saw Flacco was with the New York Jets last season (that week 2 game is something we don’t talk about). What to expect from Flacco? Honestly, no idea considering he hasn’t played in a while but we have seen stranger things happen before.

How will Kevin Stefanski look from a play-calling standpoint against Sean McVay

Last week, if I were to grade Kevin Stefanski’s play calling it would be a D (mainly because of the reverse play that didn’t work).

Stefanski will be matched up this week in terms of offensive prowess against one of the 3 horsemen of offensive innovation and scheming (Kyle Shanahan, Mike McDaniel and Sean McVay) One of the many reasons why McVay is one of the best offensive minds in football is because of his schemes, how he utilizes his players and his play designs that he creates.

This season, he hasn’t necessarily been the best but some of it can be due to injuries at specific positions and youth movement.

For Stefanski, he doesn’t have to out-wizard the wizard.

Let me clarify, Stefanski doesn’t need to overthink things and just do what works. Regardless of what a subsection of Browns fans think, Stefanski is a good playcaller. However, he needs to just do what works and try to make things simple for the offense which has been struggling the past few weeks. Ignore the “always run the ball” crowd and do what you are comfortable with.

Get pressure on quarterback Matthew Stafford and try to contain the Rams offense

Make no mistake, this Rams offense is capable of putting points on the board. The unit isn’t great, but there are playmakers on this team aside from Matthew Stafford. Wide receivers Cooper Kupp, rookie Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell are a talented group and running back Kyren Williams looks to be healthy and contributing.

However, this side of the ball isn’t invincible.

Their offensive line is questionable, the unit ranks 25th in pass block win rate. In the games that the Rams played against solid defensive lines, their offensive line struggled meanwhile against teams with weak defensive lines their line was fine.

Cleveland’s defensive line had a poor outing last week (granted Myles Garrett went out with a shoulder injury) as they struggled to get home despite generating some pressure on Russell Wilson. If Garrett were to play on Sunday, the pass rush will get some form of juice with 95 out there but everyone else has to step up.

The Rams are going to move the ball down the field and generate scoring drives but Cleveland’s defense has to avoid the slow starts in the 1st quarter, which has been a common theme (especially on the road.)

Cornerback Greg Newsome struggled last week after stepping in for Denzel Ward, who is out again with a shoulder injury, and he must put last week behind them. It’s not going to be easy but this Cleveland defense has shown they are capable of stepping up when called upon.


What do you think is the biggest key for the Browns today?