The Browns will be playing the Washington Football Team. Both teams are 1-1 with the Browns coming off their first win of the season last Thursday night over the Bengals, while Washington lost 30-15 in Arizona. It is an important game for both teams as it’s a chance to get above .500, something neither team did in 2019. This is a must-win game for the Browns, as this is one of their best chances to get a win and stay competitive in the wild card race. The Browns should win this game, but if they follow these keys, they’ve got a good chance to win.

Key #1: Feed Chubb and Hunt

Nick Chubb has 184 Yards in 2020

Cleveland has 353 rushing yards, good enough for the second-most in the NFL and both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are in the top-10 in the NFL in terms of rushing yards. Washington’s leading rusher, Antonio Gibson, has less than 100 yards on the season thus far. Last week, both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt had over 80 yards on the ground and combined for four of the Browns five touchdowns between the two of them. If the Browns can control the ball and the clock, they will keep their defense off the field. A defense that has allowed 30 or more points in each of the first two games of the season.

Key #2: Keep Mayfield in the Play-Action

    Baker Mayfield had the highest QBR (QB rating) of any quarterback in the league last week. A major reason for this was his performance in the play-action. In the first half, Mayfield went 4-of-5 for 87 yards and one TD on play-action passes. His only touchdown in the season opener also came out of the play-action. If Mayfield can find space, it will allow him to connect with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. It will also allow him to get away from the Washington pass rush, which has been very solid this season. They have a league-leading 11 sacks this season and it will be a major test for the Browns offensive line, which has been good this year. 

Key #3: Force Turnovers

    The Browns defense has been torrid this season, giving up 68 points in the first two games of the season. The main reason for this is the Browns forcing just two turnovers, one in each game. Washington has forced four turnovers, three via interception in the first two games. In 2019, the Browns had a negative eight turnover differential, seventh-worst in the NFL. They haven’t gotten off to a good start in 2020, as they have a negative two turnover differential. If the Browns defense can force mistakes out of this young Washington offense, they can set the offense up in good positions.

Key #4: Contain Terry McLaurin

    Terry McLaurin is the best receiver on the Washington Team. Last season, he had over 900 yards and he also had seven touchdowns as a rookie. He’s picked up right where he left off in 2020, with 186 yards and a touchdown in the first two games of the season. Steven Sims is the only other player for Washington who is averaging more than 50 yards a game this year. McLaurin will be covered by Denzel Ward, who did a fantastic job covering AJ Green last week, allowing him to catch just three passes for 29 yards. If Ward can contain McLaurin in that way, it will stymie the Washington passing attack.

Key #5: Contain the Kick Return

    In Week 1, the Ravens had a kickoff return of thirty-eight yards and their only other return was a net forty-two yards after a face mask penalty. In Week 2, the Bengals started off their game with a forty-two-yard return and they had a forty-five-yard return later in the game. Those drives resulted in 10 points for the Bengals. It sets up the defense in tough positions and can be demoralizing for the Browns. If the big return comes near the end of the half, it could lead to a field goal that the Browns otherwise wouldn’t have given up. The Browns will need to solve the issue quickly before they give up a touchdown on a kickoff. 

    This is a game that the Browns need to win to stay in the race for a Wild Card spot, especially since they likely won’t be favored to win a game again until Week 7. 

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