After a stressful road trip, the Cleveland Browns are back in northeast Ohio as they will welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars in this crucial matchup in Week 14. Cleveland still controls their destiny as far as their playoff seeding goes in the AFC but it is imperative that the Browns get back on the winning track with the season winding down.
Cleveland versus Jacksonville will be back on CBS, with the B-team of Ian Eagle, Charles Davis and Evan Washburn (no more Sanchez) on the call. Kickoff is set for 1:00 pm.
Who will prevail in the battle of the backup QB’s
If we had to guess the percentage of quarterback Trevor Lawrence playing on Sunday, it would be less than 50% (probably 25% if we are honest). Considering that he suffered a high ankle sprain and the team played on Monday (a short week of preparation isn’t necessarily a good thing) he shouldn’t be playing.
Enter journeyman CJ Beathard. The last time that Beathard started was back for the 49ers during the 2020 COVID season, but Beathard also has an injury he’s dealing with as he was listed on the injury report with a shoulder injury.
Quarterback Joe Flacco played pretty well in his debut last week against the Los Angeles Rams, so it’s not a surprise that Flacco will be in line to start this Sunday. He took the first-team reps at practice throughout the week. Dorian Thompson-Robinson is listed as the team’s starter at this point and is cleared from concussion protocol but might no start.
For either team to come out of the game with a victory, it’s going to come down to which team doesn’t turn the ball over. It’s usually the case when you have two backups going against each other. Expect the unexpected.
Can the Browns Defense get back on track?
Scheme-wise, Cleveland’s defense was outclassed in their two-game road trip. The Browns play an aggressive style of defense and when you play that style, some weaknesses can be exploited by smart offensive coaches.
Sean Payton and Sean McVay had success against the Browns defense and Cleveland had no answers quite often:
It’s clear smart off coaches are just using Browns D aggression against them. They are helpless against misdirections, bootlegs, etc. zero discipline and all they want to do is attack. Schwartz needs to adjust— Clevta (@Clevta) December 4, 2023
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz knows the unit has to play better, mainly the defensive line considering the group struggled a lot during their road trip.
#Browns Jim Schwartz: "We expect our D-Line to be the driving force for our defense."— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) December 7, 2023
#Browns Jim Schwartz doesn't think Myles Garrett not having a sack/tackle last week has "anything other than the way their game plan went down."— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) December 7, 2023
Added "we got to get back to clocking the quarterback..and that's not just Myles..we're built that way, I expect to get back to that."
We do have some good news coming with cornerback Denzel Ward returning to practice this week and rookie Cam Mitchell being activated from injured reserve so reinforcements are coming.
The Jaguars offensive line is suspect, they aren’t necessarily great in pass protection and their run blocking isn’t great. Considering how they probably won’t have to deal with Trevor Lawrence and won’t have to contend with Christian Kirk, this defense has the chance to play better than they did the past two weeks.
Expect the defense to bounce back this week.
How will the weather play a factor on Sunday?
If you check the weather frequently when it comes to Browns games, you would know that the weather for Sunday is not going to be ideal, at least that is what it said to start the week.
The forecast for Sunday was rain with winds up to 20 MPH. As of Saturday, the forecast has changed but we all know what weather off Lake Erie can do at a moment's notice.
Considering that the Browns play right next to the lake, the wind can be a factor.
Considering that both QBs are backups, I don’t expect either Jacksonville or Cleveland to air the ball out 30 or 40 times in adverse weather conditions, even if it is just wind.
In regards to the kicking (whether it’s punting or making field goals), that will be a key factor to look for. With the wind coming from the lake, it can affect how the ball travels when it is in the air. We’ve seen kickers struggle in Cleveland, so it will be crucial to watch.
Expect the unexpected with the weather on Sunday.
What do you think will be the key thing that decides the Browns vs Jaguars?