Friday, October 18, 2013

Preview: Browns at Packers

When the Browns traded RB Trent Richardson, my first thought was that they were tanking their season. However, I knew that their defense was pretty good so it seemed unlikely that they could finish as one of the worst teams in the NFL. It seems my second thoughts were correct and the Browns actually won their first three games without Richardson.

However, their winning streak has been a team effort (and coincided with the return of WR Josh Gordon from suspension) and their defense has not been flawless. The Vikings and Lions both scored big against them in recent weeks. While injuries have left the Packers with no depth at wide receiver and linebacker, no injury might be bigger than QB Brian Hoyer's torn ACL. Here are the team rankings from Football Outsiders:
Team Pass Offense Run Offense Pass Defense Run Defense
Packers 4 3 31 3
Browns 26 25 15 19
The Packers were without WR Randall Cobb and WR James Jones for most of their game against the Ravens and the pass offense only fell from third to fourth. On the other hand, the Browns have lost Hoyer for the season and they've been left with this from Brandon Weeden. Not being able to run or throw the ball is obviously a bad combination. Rodgers isn't having a repeat of 2011, but his 2013 QBR is 55.2 (and much better at home) while Weeden hasn't been above 42.3 in any game this season. The injuries at wide receiver will give the Packers some problems on Sunday, but those won't be nearly as bad the fundamental problems the Browns have with their quarterback.

The pass defense is still a disaster, but they have the pieces to turn it around and the possible return of CB Casey Hayward could help them against TE Jordan Cameron and Gordon (who was the best receiver in the league last week). The run defense continues to improve and they total sucked the life out of RB Ray Rice last week. Without OLBs Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Mike Neal, they'll need to be creative with their pass rush but hopefully the fact that they recorded five sacks last week is proof that they can manage.

The Packers also are currently on a ten game winning streak at Lambeau (including playoffs) and they are clearly playing better at home. The Packers have been settling for a lot of field goals over their last two games so they won't score a lot but I'm not sure how the Browns can score over 10 points without a big special teams play or a defensive touchdown.

Packers 23, Browns 10

1 comment:

Jack Niemuth said...

Only 23-10? I don't think it'll be as close as that. I see Rodgers going off this weekend.