The Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts are both sitting at 0-2 heading into this week’s matchup and both teams need this win badly for their respective organizations.
For the Browns, they’re entering a 3 game stretch where they can win every game and need to win at least two of them to prove that the plan Sashi Brown and Hue Jackson started 20 months ago is coming to fruition and that the winning will begin.
For the Colts, things haven’t been kind to them during this entire calendar year as their franchise quarterback Andrew Luck remains sidelined after undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason. The team has struggled in all phases through the first two games and head coach Chuck Pagano’s tenure could come to an end sooner rather than later.
This game won’t be a matchup looked at closely but I’d expect it to be a knockdown, drag out fight because both teams want to get their first win of the 2017 season.
Offense (League rank)
Passing: CLE- 236.5 YPG (14th). IND-170 YPG (26th)
Rushing: CLE-75 YPG (25th). IND-75.5 YPG (24th)
Scoring: CLE-14 PPG (25th). IND-11 PPG (28th)
Defense (League Rank)
Passing: CLE-228 YPG (19th). IND-308 YPG (29th)
Rushing: CLE-85.5 YPG (13th). IND-73 YPG (7th)
Scoring: CLE-22.5 PPG (T-20th). IND-31 PPG (T-29th)
Out: LB Jamie Collins (concussion)
Doubtful: DE Myles Garrett (ankle), WR Sammie Coates (hamstring)
Questionable: DT T.Y. McGill (back)
Out: QB Andrew Luck (shoulder), RB Marlon Mack (shoulder), OL Ryan Kelly (foot), WR Chester Rogers (hamstring), LB Anthony Walker (hamstring), DB Quincy Wilson (knee)
Doubtful: CB Vontae Davis (groin)
Questionable: WR Kamar Aiken (hip), DB Darius Butler (hamstring), DB Chris Milton (hamstring), TE Brandon Williams (calf)
Matchup to Watch
Colts TE Jack Doyle vs Browns linebackers
Through the first couple weeks of the season, the one glaring spot on the Browns defense is how they’ve played against the tight ends.
In Week 1 against Pittsburgh, they gave up two touchdowns to Steelers tight end Jesse James and last week against Baltimore, Ravens tight ends Benjamin Watson, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle had a combined 13 catches (13 catches) for 121 yards.
This week they’ll be in for another tough matchup against Colts tight end and leading receiver Jack Doyle who has 10 catches for 120 yards through two games.
With Collins out, Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert will need to step up to try and stop Doyle from making big plays. James Burgess will start in place of Collins and has proven early he’s a big time hitter as he got to Joe Flacco last week.
If the Browns want to be in position to win on Sunday, stopping the tight ends will be one of the tasks.
Prediction (1-1 this season)
I’m not calling this a must win for Cleveland but it’s a game the Browns should win. This upcoming three game stretch is crucial for the current regime going forward and I hate to say it, but if somehow they don’t get a victory out of the next three, things may start to unravel in the organization which no one wants to happen again.
Jacoby Brissett is the man under center for Indianapolis making his second start and the Browns must make him uncomfortable. The pass rush stepped up some against Baltimore with three sacks but they need to turn it up another notch against a makeshift Colts offensive line.
As for our quarterback, I think DeShone Kizer will bounce back from his “Welcome to the NFL” moment last week with four turnovers and also dealing with a migraine. Facing a poor Colts secondary should get his confidence up and he should be able to have a good outing and gain some chemistry with that wide receiver group who needs to rally together following Corey Coleman’s injury.
The running game can take another step forward and Isaiah Crowell will hopefully break out of his early season slump.
And of course, the Cleveland Browns will get their first win of 2017 and match their win total from last season
Browns 24 Colts 10