The Cleveland Browns need a win more than any other team in the NFL right now. After starting 2-1, and a blown coverage away from 3-0, the Browns have since dropped three straight. However, still sitting at 1-0 in the division, they have a chance to make that 2-0 with a statement and a shocking win over the Baltimore Ravens.
The defense continues to sink, and the offense that started as a top-tier offense over the first five weeks came crashing down last week against the New England Patriots. Can the Browns tough out a win against the highly-favored Ravens?
Here are five bold predictions as the Browns look to get the train back on the tracks against the Ravens.
Myles Garrett has second straight multi-sack game
Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Myles Garrett is the highest-graded pass rusher according to PFF, both this week and on the season. He is on pace for another 16-sack season at this point despite missing a game and playing hurt (very evidently) through the past two weeks for the Browns.
Ravens’ right tackle Morgan Moses is questionable to play while left tackle Ronnie Stanley is still taking it slowly coming back from a broken ankle injury that has lingered for two years now. Lamar Jackson is electric, but this also means he tends to push himself outside of the tackle box and out of the protection of his linemen.
Garrett will have his opportunities to once again make plays for this team. It is up to the other 10 guys defensively to match the efforts that Garrett has shown over the past two weeks.
Amari Cooper gets back over 100 yards
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
After going for back-to-back 100-yard games in Weeks 2 and 3, Cooper has not hit the 100-yard mark since for the Browns’ offense. While the quarterback play has also diminished over the past two weeks, Cooper has managed just 12 catches and 129 yards over the past three weeks.
Marcus Peters is questionable, and the safeties and linebackers of the Ravens have not been stellar against the pass this season. With tight end David Njoku also set to catch the eyes of the Baltimore defense, there are going to be opportunities for Cooper to make a play and see single coverage.
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett is at his best when Cooper is a frequent target as the four-time Pro Bowler tends to make plays when it matters most. Expect it to be an offensive emphasis to get Cooper involved early and often as the Browns have great success throwing on early downs and out of empty looks.
Kareem Hunt gets 15 total touches
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Despite seeing limited touches a week ago as the Browns played catchup most of the second half against the Patriots, Hunt gets his touches this week. Over the previous five weeks, however, Hunt has averaged just over 14 touches per game as both a runner and receiver.
The Ravens are the 24th-best defense against the run in the NFL in DVOA, so the Browns’ best plan of attack with a struggling quarterback is to stay within reach on the scoreboard and of the sticks. Nick Chubb is on pace for the most touches of his career, so he is going to need a reprieve from time to time.
Hunt is going to get his touches. Besides, outside of Cooper and tight end David Njoku, Hunt has been the next most consistent target in the passing game as well. The Browns are going to look to use Hunt as a mismatch in that phase of the game as well.
Deion Jones makes an impact in Browns' debut
Browns linebacker Deion Jones.(AP Photo/Danny Karnik, File)
Deion Jones is ready to make his debut for the Browns and will get a healthy dose of playing time after spending the last two weeks in the playbook. Still just 28 years old, Jones has had a knack for making passing lanes over the middle of the field quite difficult. The Browns are desperately missing this in the middle of their defense.
Jackson is dynamic, both as a runner and a passer, but he has the knack for trying to fit the football in windows he should not. Without defining what an impact is, Jones is sure to make himself known on this struggling defense. This may not be a hard task given how poor this unit has been.
Jones saw his play take a steep hit over the past two seasons after Dan Quinn exited as the head coach in Atlanta, but now back in a familiar defensive scheme, the former Pro Bowler has a chance to prove he still can make life difficult on passers down the seam.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah gets back on track this week
Cleveland Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
The Browns desperately need their WILL linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah to return to form after two ugly weeks for the Notre Dame alum. He has gotten his eyes caught on play-action and torched in the passing game.
With the speed of the Baltimore offense, and specifically Jackson, the Browns will need the explosiveness of Owusu-Koramoah to contain the lightning in a bottle. He is perfectly capable of feeling out crossers and sticking tight ends, as well as sticking his nose into gaps against the run.
The old Owusu-Koramoah is not far gone, but he needs to play well in the worst way for this defense. Maybe with Jones getting playing time next to him, he may feel less inclined to cover double duty.
Anyway, he gets back to his flashy self tomorrow.