What an interesting bye week for the 5-3 Cleveland Browns.
QB Baker Mayfield was put on the COVID-19 list, but luckily, is cleared and good to go this week. Another positive (non-COVID-related) is that Nick Chubb is back! The Browns and my fantasy thank you, sir, and I expect a great game. (I need that playoff push.)
That’s not why we’re here, however, so let’s get into this week’s preview of the Browns matchup against the 2-6 Houston Texans.
Run the Football
The Texans defense is bad… very bad.
Their run defense is noticeably worse, and you know what that means: a good dose of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Now, I don’t expect a huge explosion like the Week 4 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys, but I do expect a similar level of production.
Chubb is arguably the best pure runner of the football, so to expect anything less than 100 or more yards and a touchdown will be a disappointment. Don’t sleep on Hunt either; he’s been great overall as the replacement for Chubb, and he could easily score as well, either through the air or on the ground.
Contain the Quarterback
Deshaun Watson is a great quarterback and he does a lot of his damage off of scrambling drills and broken plays. So, if the Browns’ defensive line and linebackers can keep Watson pressured or just sack him (which shouldn’t be too hard), then it will take pressure off of Cleveland’s rough-looking secondary.
The Texans’ offensive line is awful, aside from Laremy Tunsil, so I would expect Myles Garrett to line up against the right tackle. They cannot underestimate Texans WRs Brandin Cooks or Will Fuller, however; both aren’t elite, but they’re very good players with great speed. This is the kind of game where Garrett will need to — and probably will — take over.
Keep Away from Mayfield
When I say “keep away,” I mean “keep the football away” from Mayfield and let Hunt and Chubb carry the game.
The Texans’ passing defense isn’t anything to be majorly scared of, but Mayfield is coming off of a COVID-19 infection with only a few days of practice instead of an extra week. If pressure is put upon him to win the game or throw 30 or more times, I’ll be concerned. Now, practicing in the days leading up to the game is good, but from what people have said regarding the COVID recovery process, it isn’t an easy thing to do, regardless of how talented you are as an athlete.
Score Prediction and Closing Thoughts
Overall, I do believe this Browns team is talented enough to beat the Texans by more than one score, but Watson is one of the better quarterbacks that this defense will be facing, so anything could happen. The Browns’ secondary is still iffy, but if Watson is pressured, I think that will be Cleveland’s saving grace.
Final score: Browns 28, Texans 23
(Featured Image Credit: ClevelandBrowns.com)