The Cleveland Browns entered the year as one of the favorites in the media and by the fans. Everyone seemed to love Cleveland, and what wasn’t there to love?
They had a young quarterback coming off an incredible rookie year and they brought in a superstar wide receiver. Meanwhile, they had a bunch of young talent on both sides of the ball.
After going 0-16 in 2017, they moved up to 7-8-1 in 2018. In 2019 they were supposed to be Super Bowl contenders. Instead, they are 2-6 through the first nine weeks of the season.
Now, they face off with the 6-2 Buffalo Bills in Week 10. If the Browns are going to win, they’ll need to pull off something big. Here are four reasons that might happen.
The Buffalo defense is one of the best in the NFL. However, they’ve been average against the run. The Bills are allowing 111.6 rushing yards per game, that ranks 20th in the NFL.
So if you want to get to Buffalo’s defense, the best way is through a solid run game. Just look at what the Philadelphia Eagles did in Week 8. They ran the ball early and often and picked up a massive 31-13 win.
Luckily for the Browns, they have one of the best running backs in football. Nick Chubb is their starting running back, and he’s following up a strong rookie campaign with a ridiculous sophomore year.
Through eight games, Chubb has 803 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 154 carries (5.2 yards per carry).
If Chubb is on top of his game, he could absolutely run through the Buffalo defense. With Chubb running wild, Cleveland will find things a lot easier. They’ll be able to control the clock and have the rest of the offense more open to them.
Chubb could be the major key to victory.
Josh Allen is having a solid second-year so far. However, the Buffalo quarterback still has plenty of issues. Two of those issues are his accuracy and turnovers.
Allen has completed only 60.9% of his passes so far this year. He’s thrown for 10 touchdowns and run four more in, which is solid. At the same time though, he’s also thrown seven interceptions and has five fumbles.
There’s a definite positive, as the 60.9 completion percentage is much higher than the 52.8% he had last year.
That being said, there are negatives too, of course. For instance, in 12 games he had 17 turnovers last year, and he has 12 in eight games this year. Those numbers aren’t exactly improving.
While Allen’s getting better, he’s still at a point in his career where if you can rattle him, things can go wrong quick for the Bills. If Allen starts to struggle, he can spiral down pretty badly.
Cleveland’s defense hasn’t always looked good this year. They have a lot of talent on paper though. With that in mind, they can definitely get to Allen and the Buffalo offense. That could lead to a win for the Browns.
Everyone thought the biggest positive of the Browns in 2019 would be their passing attack.
Baker Mayfield was set as their franchise quarterback after a phenomenal rookie year. Meanwhile, they added Odell Beckham Jr. to a receiving corps that also had Jarvis Landry and David Njoku.
So Mayfield would have all types of options. But it hasn’t worked out all that great.
That could be Mayfield’s fault, as he hasn’t produced at all to expectations. He has a 58.7 completion percentage and just seven touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions.
Mayfield has flashed that potential at times that he showed last year though. And those are still really good weapons, even if their numbers haven’t lived up to the hype.
It also helps that Chubb has been a star running back, and the Browns get Hunt back this year for the first time all year (suspension). Hunt adds an entirely new dimension to the passing game, and could take a lot of pressure off Mayfield.
With Mayfield being a little more at ease, expect those receiving weapons to finally show out.
There really does not need to be much said about Myles Garrett. The pass rusher is on pace for a ridiculous year, even by his standards.
Through eight games this year, he has 10 sacks (two forced fumbles) this year. That makes him set to break personal bests in both sacks and forced fumbles.
Garrett is a constant threat, and with Allen’s fumbling problem, he could change the game pretty quickly against the Bills.