March 4, 2024

With a win in Houston, there’s a possibility the Browns could clinch a playoff spot, that’s why I’m watching. On Sunday Cleveland travels to Houston to play the Texans at NRG Stadium, 1:00 pm EST. The Texans are ranked tenth in total offense averaging 354 yards, 253 yards passing, 100 yards rushing and 21.9 points per game. They’re ranked sixteenth in total defense allowing 333 yards, 239 yards passing, 94 yards rushing and 21.1 points per game. The Browns are ranked seventeenth in total offense averaging 330 yards, 206 yards passing, 124 yards rushing and 22.1 points per game. They’re ranked first in total defense allowing 261 yards, 159 yards passing, 102 yards rushing and 20.6 points per game. What am I watching?

Browns Offense Vs Texans Defense. Houston’s defense is solid. They play a four-man front and can produce pressure and sacks. Houston defensive end Jonathan Greenard leads the team in sacks with 12.5. Malick Collins and Sheldon Rankins both have five sacks each both are career highs. Because of the pressure, the Texans secondary thrives. They’re eleventh in the league in coverage rate (85.7) And first in allowing touchdown passes (one). They’re also sixth against the run. Their biggest weakness is tackling, they’re 31st with a 39.1 rate. Because of Houston’s ability to stop the run, the Browns will have to be more creative in the run game. They can’t get bogged down for three-quarters of a game trying to have a conventual run game plan. Use quarterback Joe Flacco’s ability in play action and short passing (ten plus yards) to soften up the Texans front four. The Texan linebackers are good, but the Cleveland tight ends can take advantage of them because they allow a 94.3 QBR. Cleveland must stop unforced turnovers.

Browns Defense Vs. Texans Offense. Houston’s offensive statistics are very inflated because quarterback C.J. Stroud was having a rookie of the year type season. However, word out Houston is he’s still suffering from concussion-like symptoms. So, former Browns quarterback Case Keenum is scheduled to start. Even with Keenum, the Texans have weapons, it starts with running back Devin Singletary who is a threat in the run game and passing game. Houston has very good receivers, Robert Woods, Nico Collins and Noah Brown. Their tight end Dalton Schultz is having a career year. The Texans weakness might be the interior of their offensive line. Left guard Juice Scruggs and center Michael Deiter have Pro Football Focus rankings of 49.6 and 54.7 respectively. The Browns will have to stop the run, they’re still giving up 4.2 yards a carry on the season and Singletary is the type of running back that’s given them problems all year. Cleveland’s secondary is still first in opponent QBR (72.9) and first in opponent completion percentage. Keenum’s strength is the short passing game, so the Browns linebackers and safeties will have to play well in coverage. The Browns defensive line will again have to be disruptive and turn pressures into sacks. The Texans feature a great place kicker in Fa’imi Fairbairn who’s only missed one field goal all season (he’s 22 of 23). Hopefully, the game doesn’t come down to a field goal.

On offense, the Browns have to find a way to run the ball effectively to keep pressure off of Flacco and on defense the Browns have to force three-and-outs and not give up the big play late.

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