With 1:13 left on the clock, Browns kicker Cody Parkey kicked a game-sealing field goal to move the final score up to 34-20 in a rare Browns victory — and unlike a certain divisional rival’s score, this was a positive!
For the first time since 2014, the Cleveland Browns have a record over 0.500, and look to keep that alive this week versus another NFC East team, the Dallas Cowboys, who are looking to come back strong after a disappointing loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Can the Browns keep grinding and keep the Cowboys off the field? Or will they have to rely on Baker Mayfield to keep them in this game? Here are my thoughts.
Protect Baker Mayfield
Most Browns fans understand this, but when Baker Mayfield is put under constant pressure, his performance reflects that.
The Browns’ offensive line in Week 3 kept Mayfield safe, only allowing two sacks the entire game, while Mayfield completed 16-of-23 pass attempts for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cowboys don’t have the luxury of an elite front-seven; have a banged-up linebacker corps missing star player Leighton Vander Esch; and have a questionable secondary — but, they have the current sack leader in Aldon Smith, along with Everson Griffen and DeMarcus Lawrence. So, if this offensive line can keep that trio in check, Baker Mayfield and the Browns offense should not have a difficult time.
Run the Ball
Control the clock and, often, you win the game.
That’s what worked last week, and should work this week, if all goes well.
Cleveland controlled the clock for 33:37 minutes and established the run early and often. With an offense as impressive as the Cowboys’, keeping them on the bench is the best-case scenario for a banged-up Browns defense that hasn’t hit full stride.
The main concern for this Cleveland Browns offense was third-down conversions. They were 5-of-14 on third downs — a whopping 35%.
That won’t fly against this Cowboys offense that has the talent and ability to score quickly and push their opponents against the wall — or clock, in this instance. The Dallas Cowboys’ average time of possession is 26:00, but have scored 71 total points the previous two weeks combined. To keep them off the field, the best way to do so, is to convert on third down, keep the ball moving, and wear the Cowboys defense down while putting pressure on the Cowboys offense to score quickly and rush into mistakes.
It happened last week against the Seattle Seahawks, so it is very possible to happen again.
Concluding Thoughts and Score Prediction
This is the Cleveland Browns’ first road game since Week 1, which was an utter mess of a game against the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns have a chance to show they are not strictly a homefield team, and can win games outside of Cleveland and compete for a spot atop the AFC North.
This is not necessarily a must-win game, but losing a second road game would become a big concern within the Browns organization.
Score Prediction: Browns 30, Cowboys 24
(Featured Image Credit: Matt Starkey / ClevelandBrowns.com)