The Cleveland Browns are sitting pretty at 10-4 right now. However, there is a chance that even if the Browns go 11-5, they will not qualify for the playoffs, even though it will be an extended field this year. The Browns can come within inches of locking down a playoff spot, but they will need some help. This weekend the Browns play the woeful Jets, so they need a win in New York plus a Ravens loss or tie, or a Dolphins loss or tie.
They can also clinch a playoff spot with a win on Sunday along with a Colts loss. This would be the year the cursed Browns finish 11-5 and don’t qualify for the Playoffs. The city of Cleveland would burn to the ground. However, it is still likely that the Browns clinch a playoff spot on Sunday.
The Browns easily handled the Giants in New York on Sunday Night Football last weekend. The Jets are coming into the game off of their only win of the season, beating Seattle. The Jets would like to stay as close to the number one pick as possible so the Browns should be able to pull this one out, just like they did last week against Joe Judge’s team. There are three key factors that the Browns need to focus on to get a victory.
- I Feel Like This is Said Every Week, But Run the Ball and Keep Running it!: The Cleveland Browns offense has a vocal leader in quarterback Baker Mayfield, but on the field the offense is led by running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The Browns are ranked third in the NFL in rushing offense. They’ve run for 2,137 yards, at a 4.8 YPC* average, and 17 touchdowns. The Jets are actually a little bit ahead of the pack when it comes to rushing defense. They rank 14th in the NFL, allowing only 113 rushing yards per game. In their last three games they have fallen off a bit, allowing 120 rushing yards per game. The Browns need to use the running game to sustain long drives and keep the Jets offense off the field. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are looking to become the first teammates to have 1,000 yards rushing each since 2009 when Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. The last Browns pair to accomplish this feat was Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner all the way back in 1985. At this point in the year, stats don’t really matter, but the balanced rushing attack can lead them to a victory on Sunday afternoon.
- Keep Things Simple for Baker Mayfield: Mayfield has really come into his own over the past few weeks. He is starting to play up to the caliber that got him selected number one overall in 2018. However, head coach Kevin Stefanski has made things much easier for Baker down the stretch. On the year Baker is completing 64% of his throws for 3,082 yards and 25 touchdowns to just eight interceptions. Stefanski has used more play-action roll-outs lately, and it has worked wonders for Mayfield. Either Jarvis Landry, a running back, or one of the tight ends will motion past Mayfield, who snaps it and fakes the handoff, just to find the receiver wide open in the flat. It gives Mayfield some easy completions and keeps drives going. All eyes will be on the running game on Sunday, but Mayfield should put up some impressive numbers as well, as long as coach Stefanski keeps it simple.
- Put Pressure on Sam Darnold: Surprisingly the Jets signal caller has thrown 10 touchdown passes this year under pressure. However, I highly doubt he’s played against a guy like Myles Garrett. Garrett is still recovering from COVID, but has still been effective on the defensive line. Another added bonus for the Browns is that the Jets placed defensive end Quinnen Williams on the IR. Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson have been great in the past couple of weeks. Richardson is supposed to play despite leaving last weekend’s game with a leg injury. In his last three games, Vernon has two sacks and one forced fumble. He is finally playing like the guy the Browns traded Kevin Zeitler for. Expect the Jets to look to double and triple team Garrett, leaving the gate open for guys like Richardson, Vernon, and Larry Ogunjobi.
- Wyatt Teller, Cleveland’s powerful starting right guard, is set to miss another game due to injury. Starting in his place will be Nick Martin, who is the back-up center, but came in last week when Teller’s first back-up, Chris Hubbard, went down with an injury. The Rest of the Browns Injury Report is here:
- Wyatt Teller, G, OUT
- Malcolm Smith, LB, Questionable
- Rookie Left-Tackle Jedrick Wills was placed on the COVID list earlier this week, but is expected to play Sunday, as long as he continues to test negative. Keep an eye on him, as we’ll see how big of an impact the illness had on his stamina.
Well, there you have it, the Cleveland Browns are headed back to New York on Sunday. If the Browns really want to be true contenders, they need to put a beatdown on the Jets, to show the league they aren’t just the sad Browns any longer. The Browns are favored by 10 in this game, and I think that’s right about where the line should be. Browns -10, Lock it IN!
With only 15 days until the Wild Card Round of the NFL playoffs, I will be counting down Browns seasons from worst to best, between the years of 2005-present. There aren’t many good seasons, so let’s just take a dive at number 15! (Note: The Browns Made The Playoffs in 2002, but lost to the Steelers in the Wild Card Round. It will not be on this list, but it was a fun season. Who remembers Kelly Holcomb?)
The 2015 Season
Ah the 2015 season. It is one that I remember quite well, but damn was it disappointing. Mike Pettine was the head coach and “texting” Ray Farmer was the GM. Fortunately, it was their last season in Cleveland. The Browns had drafted Johnny Manziel out of Texas A&M in 2014, and we got a glimpse of him towards the end of the 2014 season. He was terrible, but there was hope that with a long off-season, and more professional time under his belt, he would come into the 2015 season ready to go. That was a mistake. However, Manziel was not terrible in 2015, he was okay. He completed 57% of his throws for exactly 1500 yards and seven touchdowns to just five interceptions. It was the off-the-field issues that killed the Browns in 2015. First came Josh Gordon’s suspension. On Januart 25th it was announced that Josh Gordon was facing a year-long suspension for a failed drug test, this time he tested positive for alcohol. After that, Manziel entered rehab on February 3, 2015. On top of all of that we had “textgate” in Cleveland. On February 4th it was announced that the Browns faced sanctions amid allegations that general manager Ray Farmer, had sent text messages to coordinators and coaches during the 2014 season. The only three wins in 2015 were against the Titans, 49ers, and Ravens.
Losing thirteen games really did nothing for the Browns as they’re second overall pick went to the Eagles in the Carson Wentz trade. In their only first round pick, the Browns selected Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman with the 15th pick. He was a dud, and I don’t even know if he’s still in the league. They also had the first overall pick of the second round and took Emmanuel Ogbah, a defensive end out of Oklahoma State. He too was not very good. Here’s a list of players who went after Coleman, but before Ogbah in the 2016 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackle Taylor Decker, safety Keanu Neal, center Ryan Kelly, wide receiver Will Fuller, corner back William Jackson, and defensive tackle Kenny Young. Jaylon Smith, Hunter Henry, and Myles Jack went back to back to back with picks 34-36, just one slot after the Browns took Ogbah.
It was indeed another painful season for Browns fans. They never really had any hope in 2015 season. They attached their name to Johnny Manziel, and that was a mistake. Currently there are no players drafted in 2015 or 2016 that are still on the Browns roster.
UPDATE: The Browns top three wide receivers (Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Rashard Higgins, were selected as close contacts to a player who tested positive for COVID. It’s very possible the Browns will go into the game versus the Jets with pretty much no receivers. Expect a lot of three tight end sets if that’s the case. Of course this would happen, just as the Browns are looking to clinch their first playoff birth in 18 years. Stay tuned for more updates. Follow me on Twitter: @BrownlojCLE
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