The Browns (0-8) are back after a tumultuous bye week in the organization and will hit the field for the first time in two weeks on Sunday as they travel to Detroit to face the Lions (4-4).
The team faced some major scrunity from the fans and the media for not pursuing Jimmy Garoppolo harder (which they were), the AJ McCarron trade debacle (which was a blessing) and the ongoing feud between the coaches and front office (which they continue to deny).
Through it all, the Browns are trying to win some football games to prove this rebuild is progressing and they need to start showing it in the second half or the changes that have been rumored will become reality at the end of the season.
The Lions at 4-4 right now are in the middle of the playoff hunt halfway through the season.
With Aaron Rodgers done for the season, you’d think Matthew Stafford and company would be running away with the NFC North but with Minnesota’s defense dominant and the quarterback play being good enough despite changes, they hold a two game lead over Detroit and Green Bay.
They also sit two games behind Carolina and Seattle for the Wild Card spots so Detroit is going to need a strong second half in order to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1994 and 1995 seasons.
Team Stats (League Rank)
Passing: CLE-206.1 ypg (22nd), DET-256 ypg (7th)
Rushing: CLE-95.1 ypg (23rd), DET-79.9 ypg (29th)
Scoring: CLE-14.9 ppg (31st), DET-25.8 ppg (T-8th)
Passing: CLE-229.3 ypg (17th), DET-251.9 ypg (27th)
Rushing: CLE-84.3 ypg (4th), DET-89.9 ypg (6th)
Scoring: CLE-25.3 ppg (28th), DET-23.3 ppg (20th)
Questionable: DT Larry Ogunjobi (groin)
Out: OL T.J. Lang (illness), LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (ankle)
Doubtful: DE Ezekiel Ansah (back)
Questionable: WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring), DB Don Carey (knee)
Matchup to Watch
Browns Secondary vs Lions Receivers
With both run defenses solid for Cleveland and Detroit, this game is going to come down to the passing attacks.
Detroit has two big time weapons at the wide receiver position in Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. Both receivers have over 500 receiving yards each through eight games with seven touchdowns total.
Jones has been red hot for the Lions offense with 19 catches for 331 yards and three touchdowns over the last three games.
The Browns secondary is back to full strength after missing Jason McCourty and Jabrill Peppers the last two games. Briean Boddy-Calhoun suffered a hamstring injury against Minnesota but is ready to go against Detroit.
If the Browns want any chance at earning their first win of 2017 and breaking the nine game losing streak, Gregg Williams’ secondary is going to have to shut down the two big weapons for Matthew Stafford.
Like I mentioned above in the “Matchup to Watch”, I think this game is going to come down to which team has the better passing attack which means it’s going to come down the quarterback position.
I think both defenses will limit the running game as both are top 6 in the NFL. Expect running backs Duke Johnson for the Browns and Theo Riddick for the Lions to have a huge role in the receiving game.
The Browns have DeShone Kizer.
The Lions have Matthew Stafford.
Unfortunately, the Browns first win of 2017 doesn’t come against Detroit but I think they do keep it close.
Lions 24 Browns 20