After a long, obstacle-filled week, the Browns (7-3) will play the Jaguars (1-9) on Sunday at 1 p.m. The difference in record may be stark, but several players who have contributed to Cleveland’s promising start will not play against Jacksonville.
The Browns added four players tAfter a long, obstacle-filled week, the Browns (7-3) will play the Jaguars (1-9) on Sunday at 1 p.m. The difference in record may be stark, but several players who have contributed to Cleveland’s promising start will not play against Jacksonville.
The Browns added four players to their reserve/COVID-19 list this week. Linebacker Sione Takitaki, fullback Andy Janovich and defensive linemen Joe Jackson and Porter Gustin joined star pass rusher Myles Garrett, who will miss his second game because of his positive test this week, on the list of players who have tested positive for COVID.
The Browns’ roster woes don’t stop there. Defensive backs Denzel Ward (Calf) and Sheldrick Redwine (knee) will miss Sunday’s game with injuries. Safety Andrew Sendejo (groin) and right guard Wyatt Teller (calf) are questionable.
All those absences mean that this week’s game is no gimme for Cleveland. With that in mind, here are three matchups that could decide Browns-Jaguars.
The Browns vs. their own tendencies
The best thing the Jaguars’ defense does, statistically, is defend the run. Yes, they allow fifth most rushing yards per game (97.3), but that’s partially because they are often behind late in games, which makes opponents more likely to run the ball.
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A deeper statistical dive reveals that Jacksonville is 14th in yards-per-carry allowed (4.3) and second in runs stop win rate (32 percent).
Conversely, the Jaguars’ pass defense ranks bottom-five in passing yards allowed per game (282.2), net yards per attempt allowed (7.9) and opponent passer rating (105.4). That presents a conundrum for the Browns, who are tied for the highest run rate (52 percent) in the NFL through 11 weeks.
That number jumps to 65 percent when you zoom in on the Browns’ three most recent games, all of which were affected by harsh weather conditions. They went 2-1 in those games, and Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb lead the NFL’s third-most productive rushing offense (156.8 yards per game).
But tomorrow’s weather forecast in Jacksonville calls for low winds, no precipitation and temperatures in the 70s. The Jaguars’ run defense is tougher than it looks, and their pass defense offers little resistance.
Sounds like a great week to pump up Baker Mayfield’s confidence.
Jaguars offensive line vs. Browns front seven.
The Jaguars are one of five NFL teams to rank 23rd or worse in both Pass- and run-block win rate, ESPN’s blocking metrics that determine how often offensive linemen sustain their blocks for greater than 2.5 seconds.
That’s led to the sixth-highest sack-per-game allowance (3.0), which is good news for Browns’ pass rush will be down to a third-string lineman without Garrett and Gustin. Defensive end Olivier Vernon earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for last week’s three-sack performance against the Eagles, who rank last in sacks allowed per game (4.0) entering Week 12.Adrian Clayborn forced a fumble.
The Browns will need both players to raise their games again this week. Jacksonville ranks ninth in passing attempts per game, so Clayborn and Vernon will have plenty of chances to pin their ears back.
Browns secondary vs. Jaguars receiving core
Jacksonville is starting journeyman backup Mike Glennon at quarterback on Sunday, which would typically mitigate concerns about the Browns’ 21st-ranked pass defense (247.9 yards allowed per game).
But as mentioned above, the Browns will start several backups, too.
Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods said Friday that Kevin Johnson, Tavierre Thomas and MJ Stewart could take turns filling Ward’s absence as the starter at outside cornerback opposite Terrance Mitchell, who himself is filling in for Greedy Williams. And while the Jaguars rank 26th in team quarterback rating (81.8), they boast a talented receiving core.
D.J. Chark Jr. made the Pro Bowl last season, and rookie Laviska Shenualt Jr., who will return this week after a two-week hamstring-related absence was projected as a first-round draft pick before tearing his ACL in his final college season. Keelan Cole is averaging 12.6 yards per catch this season.
So no, Glennon has never experienced prolonged NFL success. He hasn’t even started a game since 2017. But this Browns’ secondary has never been this thin, either.
Source: Forbes – Business