It’s the season debut of Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson. Every Browns fan should be watching. Last week Cleveland beat Tampa 23-17 in overtime and Houston lost to Miami 30-15. This week, the Browns travel to NRG Stadium in Houston to play the Texans at 1:00 p.m. (EST). The biggest question going into this game is…how well will new starting quarterback Deshaun Watson play? It’s been over 700 days since Watson has played in an NFL game. His last game was January 3, 2021, against the Tennessee Titans. Watson was 28 of 39 for 365 yards, four touchdowns, one interception and a QBR of 115.9. The Texans lost 41-38 when Tennessee kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired. What am I watching this week?
Browns Offense Vs. Texans Defense. Houston’s defense is ranked 29th in the league allowing 385 total yards, 216 yards passing, 169 yards rushing and 24 points per game. They are led in tackles by safety Jonathan Owens with 92, in interceptions by safety Jalen Pitre with two and sacks by defensive end Rasheen Green with 3.5. The Texans defense ranks near the bottom of the league in just about every category. Their rushing defense has given up a total of nearly 1600 yards and 14 touchdowns to opposing running backs this season. They’ve allowed five running backs to have at least 100 yards. For the Browns it’s simple, run the ball with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. As for the passing game, with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, the Browns completed deep passing routes 14% of the time which is the tenth highest in the league. With Watson at quarterback, I expect that number to increase and Watson to use all three of his deep threats, Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz. The Browns will also be able to attack the middle of Houston’s defense with tight ends Harrison Bryant and Pharoah Brown, a familiar target for Watson.
Browns Defense Vs. Texans Offense. Houston’s offense ranks last in the league averaging 279 total yards, 191 yards passing, 89 yards rushing and 15.8 points per game. Their leading rusher is Dameon Pierce with 788 yards. He also leads the league in missed tackles. Their leading receiver is Brandin Cooks with 520 yards, but he’s been ruled out for this game. The starting quarterback is Kyle Allen, former Texas A&M teammate of Browns defensive end Myles Garrett. Garrett will be going up against the Texans’ best offensive lineman, Laremy Tunsil. Overall, Houston’s offense has the worst passing attack in the NFL. They’ll try and establish the run early and often. They have the seventh-lowest passing rate on early downs. On downs where they could pass or run, they run the ball. The Browns will need to stop the run and force the Texans to throw the ball. In Allen’s first start last week, he was sacked five times because Houston was behind and had to utilize their passing game. Cleveland needs to dial up the pressure and bring well-designed blitzes.
The Texans are 1-9-1 and have the worst record in the league. They’ve lost six games in a row by more than six points. But being a Browns fan, I know no team should be taken lightly. If the Browns can get an early big lead, they should be able to control the game and the clock. It might take Watson a quarter to or two to get back into playing shape. Enjoy the game.