Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- Deshaun Watson’s return to the NFL will draw far more attention to this game than you would expect for two teams with a combined 5-16-1 record.
- Both teams have bottom-tier rushing defenses and offenses built around their running games.
- Cleveland has personnel advantages on both sides of the ball and has been much better this year than their 4-7 record indicates.
How cleveland Will Try To Win ::
The Browns have stayed true to themselves this season, leaning heavily on their running game and playing at a moderate pace for the duration of the season with Jacoby Brissett as their quarterback. The Browns have the 5th lowest pass rate over expectation in the NFL this year and rank 26th in the NFL in situation-neutral pace of play. This team has long been built on its running game and offensive line and has continued to lean on those strengths whenever possible. The debut of Deshaun Watson in a Browns uniform will be intriguing to watch, and it remains to be seen if the Browns will shift to a more aggressive and pass-centric approach with a premier signal caller under center.
For this week’s matchup, the Browns face a bottom-of-the-barrel Texans run defense that should fit nicely for Watson’s return after nearly two years without playing a regular season snap (his last game was in January of 2021). The Texans rank 31st in run defense DVOA by Football Outsiders and 29th in yards per carry allowed. The film junkies agree with the numbers, as PFF grades the Texans defense 30th in run defense and 29th in tackling. The Browns should open up with a heavy dose of Nick Chubb and some Kareem Hunt mixed in while exposing the Texans on the intermediate and deep levels of the field in the passing game through play-action concepts and using Watson’s strength as a deep passer to take some shots downfield. The Browns offense will likely open up significantly in the next few weeks down the stretch of the season, but this week may not be the time when we see them fully unleash things as the Texans run defense will let Watson dust off the rust and pick his spots. The Texans pass defense is nothing to fear either and ranks poorly as well, making it likely that the Browns passing game should have efficiency and success through the air, even if volume is hard to find.