April 14, 2024

The Cleveland Browns host the division rival Baltimore Ravens Sunday afternoon at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson will be the most athletic quarterback this Browns defense has faced in the 2023 season. The week 4 matchup will be for a share of first place in the AFC North. Baltimore is coming off a disappointing overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Much like the Browns, the Ravens are currently dealing with injuries at running back. The team’s offensive production now weighs on the shoulders of Lamar Jackson. Jackson in the past has given fits to Cleveland Browns defenses. But we are no longer in the past.

The biggest offseason move for the 2023 Cleveland Browns was hiring Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator to replace Joe Woods. That move along with upgraded defensive line personnel, this defense has made a statistical quantum leap since last season. Going into week 4 at home the Cleveland Browns have the number 1 ranked defense in the NFL according to ESPN.com. They have only surrendered 6 points in two 2023 home games. In twelve quarters of facing NFL offenses, the Cleveland Browns defense has only one touchdown scored against them. This defense held Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry to 20 yards rushing on 11 carries. Henry is still a top tier NFL running back. The Browns defense is not just playing at an elite level. The numbers point to a once in a generation defense.

Through the first three games of the 2023 season, the Cleveland Browns defense has given up 163.7 yards per game, they have allowed 52 rushing yards per game, 111.7 passing yards per game, 7 first downs per game, 19.51 % 3rd down conversions per game, and 10.7 points per game. All these statistics rank first in the NFL. These are early defensive numbers that haven’t been seen in the NFL in over 20 years.

I know it will be unrealistic to expect this level of dominance for an entire NFL season. I am not ready to compare this defense to the 1985 Chicago Bears or 2000 Baltimore Ravens either. But I am ready to take notice of the Cleveland Browns 2023 potential. Last Sunday the Browns offense put together their best game. That with a dominating defense led to a 24-point blowout win. A recent trend in the NFL is that offenses take time to hit their stride early in the season. This is mainly due to lack of pre-season game reps. When the Cleveland Browns offense puts everything together while being complimented with a dominate defense. The 2023 Cleveland Browns will be a difficult team to beat. This will be timed perfectly when the winter weather begins to hit the city of Cleveland. January weather with January playoff football in Cleveland. That would be complimentary if a team like the offensive juggernaut Miami Dolphins came to town for a playoff visit. It would be the Irresistible Schwartz Defense versus the Immovable Object Offense. Something has got to give!

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