4 keys to a Commanders’ victory vs. Browns in Week 17

If the Washington Commanders [7-7-1] win their final two games of the season, they’re going to the playoff. Washington doesn’t need help from anyone. The path is quite simple, win, and you’re in.

The Commanders host the Cleveland Browns [6-9] Sunday. While the Browns have had a disappointing season, they are a team full of talent. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has yet to resemble his former status as a clear-cut top-10 NFL quarterback, but he’s only played four games for the Browns after missing close to two full seasons.

What does Washington need to do to defeat the Browns? We’ve identified four keys to a Commanders’ victory over Cleveland in Week 17.


Start fast

Jahan Dotson #1 of the Washington Commanders makes a touchdown catch during the second quarter in the game against the San Francisco 49ers. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Slow starts have plagued the Commanders during the Ron Rivera era. With Carson Wentz back at quarterback, the Commanders need a fast start on Sunday. If Wentz comes out and Washington has multiple three-and-outs on offense, there will be questions. The Commanders are professionals, and you’d never hear any player speak negatively of a teammate, but their fondness for Taylor Heinicke is well-known.

Offensive coordinator Scott Turner should be aggressive yet balanced. The Browns are No. 25 against the run, so that’s an area Washington should exploit. A slow start keeps Cleveland in the game, and anything can happen, much like it did against the New York Giants in both games.

Bottle up Nick Chubb

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24)

Nick Chubb is one of the NFL’s best running backs. Cleveland’s offense runs through Chubb. If you want to beat the Browns; you better find an answer for Chubb. Chubb doesn’t have many bad games, but if you look at some of his worst performances, Cleveland has lost big. While Chubb has had some big games in losses, the key to stopping the Browns begins with slowing down Chubb.

Win the turnover battle

Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11) throws a touchdown pass. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

This is easier said than done. But if you look back at Washington’s last three games, turnovers have been a problem. It’s a big reason why head coach Ron Rivera benched Heinicke in favor of Wentz. Wentz is prone to mistakes, too, but what hurt Heinicke was fumbles. If Wentz can protect the football, that’s a win for Washington’s offense. An issue for Wentz in the first six weeks was he struggled to sustain drives. Part of that was Washington’s inability to run the ball consistently. With rookie Brian Robinson Jr., that’s changed. An improved running game should keep Wentz in shorter down and distances. The Commanders want to run more play action instead of deep dropbacks, keeping Wentz from being a sitting duck in the pocket.

Block Myles Garrett

Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95). Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Bosa and Myles Garrett in back-to-back weeks. Washington’s poor offensive tackles have their work cut out. Bosa singlehandedly destroyed the Commanders last week. One issue was a tight end would often end up blocking Bosa, which is almost laughable. That can’t happen against Garrett. If Washington can find some way to limit Garrett, that’s good for Wentz.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire