Data Dump: Where do the Browns rank in the penultimate week

The victory last Thursday night cemented the Cleveland Browns as the fifth seed heading into the playoffs. The team will now have to debate whether to play their starters or to rest them in the final game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Browns have battled injuries during the season, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give the team their first bye week since the first week of October. The game will not affect the team’s standings in the playoffs or their rankings in the analytics sphere.

After 17 weeks of football, we know who the Cleveland Browns are and where they rank across the league. The offense has started hitting its stride under the command of Joe Flacco. Unfortunately, it took the team too long to find him as the team had missteps from their backup quarterbacks. The defense has been the saving grace of the season, keeping the Brown competitive in every game, and winning quite a few of those games.

The defense is a historically elite unit, perhaps the greatest regular season defense in NFL history. In this week’s penultimate Data Dump, we will examine how the team has played this season.

Thursday Night Football Recap

Browns Joe Flacco Eagles
Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

This game is one of the rare times where the stats do not tell the full story of the game. After the Browns took a commanding lead in the first half of the game, they took their foot off the gas, hoping to get out of the game injury-free. I think the Browns’ offensive EPA would’ve been much higher if they kept their foot on the gas.

Browns bordering on tier 4

Browns Joe Flacco NFL Comeback Player of the Year
Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

With a week left in the season the Browns are bordering on tier 4 as the offense continues to get better.

Flacco makes first QB chart appearance

(Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports)
(Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Joe Flacco has thrown for enough passes to register on the quarterback efficiency charts. The quarterback is playing slightly more efficient football than Deshaun Watson played this season.

Cleveland Browns defense remains dominant

Browns Joe Flacco Eagles
Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns defense is dominating their opponents. The Browns are forcing teams to punt at an outrageous rate. They are head and shoulders above every other team in the NFL.

Browns top of the trench markers

Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

This metric combines the subjective grading of PFF and combines it with the tracking data from ESPN to grade line play. It’s my favorite tool to analyze how well lines have played in the trenches.

The Browns’ defense has remained dominant in both phases of the game. Although, the PFF grades do not always reflect that fact. Meanwhile, the Browns’ offensive line is finding some consistency with their makeshift line. The run blocking is still bad, but at least the pass blocking is no longer horrific.

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Story originally appeared on Browns Wire