The Cleveland Browns (0-9) are back in First Energy Stadium for the first time in nearly a month on Sunday to host the Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3).
Sitting on a ten game losing streak dating back to last season’s finale against Pittsburgh, the Browns are trying to get that first win to avoid a winless season. They performed well for the first three quarters against Detroit last week until quarterback DeShone Kizer was injured and took the life out of the team and eventually lost 38-24.
It wasn’t a serious injury and Kizer remains under center this week as he continues to try and show he can be the long term answer for the franchise. Arguably his best performance of the season came against Detroit but this week he’ll be facing his toughest test against the top pass rush and secondary in the league in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars have been one of the surprise teams of the 2017 season at 6-3 and in first place in the AFC South.
Getting it done with running the football and a dominant defense while Blake Bortles does just enough to help them win is I think what Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone hoped for when they took over the organization earlier this year.
Some of the Jaguars players have done a lot of talking this week about how they’re going to dominant Cleveland.
Former Browns and current Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson had some scathing words about the organization and while they weren’t wrong, he definetly caught the attention of the Browns roster as well as head coach Hue Jackson.
Jaguars receiver Dede Westbrook, who is making his debut this week said he plans to get 200 receiving yards against Cleveland.
Not that Cleveland doesn’t need anymore “bulletin board” material to fire them up, I’m sure these comments have made the desire to win a game even bigger for the Cleveland Browns this week.
Team Stats (League Rank)
Passing: CLE-206.8 ypg (25th), JAC-207.8 ypg (24th)
Rushing: CLE-106.9 ypg (17th), JAC-163 ypg (1st)
Scoring: CLE-15.9 ppg (31st), JAC-25.1 ppg (9th)
Passing: CLE-230.6 (17th), JAC-165.1 ypg (1st)
Rushing: CLE-86.4 ypg (4th), JAC-120.7 ypg (25th)
Scoring: CLE-26.7 ppg (30th), JAC-14.9 ppg (1st)
Questionable: C JC Tretter (shoulder/knee/quad), CB Jamar Taylor (ankle), OT Shon Coleman (concussion)
Out: WR Arrelious Benn (knee), WR Allen Hurns (ankle), LB Blair Brown (hamstring), OL Patrick Onameh (quad), OL Jeremy Parnell (knee)
Questionable: RB Leonard Fournette (ankle)
Matchup to Watch
Browns Run Defense vs Jaguars Running Backs
One of the few positives of the winless Browns this season has been the run defenses. It seems like since 1999 outside of not finding the quarterbacks, the Browns have always struggled in stopping the run.
This year has been the exception as the team currently sits with the fourth best run defense in the NFL. Last week once Jamie Collins went out with the knee injury that has since ended his season, Detroit attacked the Browns defense and averaged 10 yards a carry with Collins off the field.
Cleveland will have to gear up to try and stop Jacksonville’s running attack if they want any chance to win this game.
Leonard Fournette, despite being hampered with injuries and missing a game due to breaking team rules has been sensational as a rookie with 629 yards rushing and averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
Jacksonville also has Chris Ivory, Corey Grant and T.J. Yeldon who are capable of making big runs and have helped in Jacksonville having the top running attack in the NFL at almost 1,500 yards on the ground.
Even with the weather conditions favoring Cleveland, I think Jacksonville is going to dominant this game.
Jacksonville is built like an AFC North style team with their running and defense style of play. It’s shown in their other matchups this season against Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati where they won by 37, 21 and 16 respectively against each of those teams.
Cleveland can be in this game if they can stop Jacksonville’s running attack and if they run the ball like they did against Detroit on Jacksonville’s poor run defense.
If Hue Jackson was smart, he would limit Kizer’s pass attempts with the weather and Jacksonville’s elite secondary. Kizer has already thrown 12 interceptions this season and I’m predicting he’ll throw more on Sunday.
Jacksonville wins in an embarrassing blowout in front of the Dawg Pound.
Jaguars 37 Browns 0