We are entering Week 7 of the NFL season and surprisingly we still have two winless teams. The Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers are still searching for their first win of the season. So, who is going to come out victorious on Sunday?
Coming into this week, both teams have the advantage of being at home. Cleveland has the better matchup facing the Tennessee Titans (3-3) than the 49ers who host the Dallas Cowboys (2-3). Both team’s struggling offenses will have their hands full. The Browns are averaging 15.7 points per game while San Fran is averaging 18.8 points.
The 49ers have clearly struggled to produce points and last week head coach Kyle Shanahan had enough. He benched journeyman Brian Hoyer for the unknown rookie C.J. Beathard and he appeared to spark the offense in that game. After trailing 14-0 to the Redskins, Beathard produced four scoring drives out of eight possessions. Three touchdowns, one field goal and even a drive that resulted in a missed field goal. Not to mention, the interception he threw came late in the game on desperation shot in the end zone. Things appear to be trending up for the 49ers, but a matchup against the Cowboys is a tall glass to drink.
San Francisco has allowed the seventh most sacks (18) in the league and rank 20th in passing yards and 23rd in rushing and 30th in 3rd down conversion percentage (30.8%). These are all aspects that the Cowboys can take advantage of. They have a great pass rush and will certainly load up the pressure on the rookie quarterback. The 49ers will probably rely on Carlos Hyde to ease the pressure off C.J. and the Cowboys are susceptible to the run, but they can stack the box as a countermeasure and make Beathard beat them. Bonus for the Cowboys, they may get Sean Lee back as he returned to practice Wednesday. That would be huge if they get their defensive signal caller back. Additionally, Ezekiel Elliot is expected to play as his legal battles with the NFL continue. All positive signs pointing towards a Dallas victory.
As for the matchup we have all been dying to hear about, the Titans vs Browns. Tennessee is allowing 27.3 points per game while scoring slight less 24.3 points, hence the 3-3 record. They have been good and they have been bad, so for the Browns’ sake, let’s hope the bad Titans show up Sunday. Cleveland is scoring just 15.7 points per game and surrendering 26.2 points. Hopefully, an extra days rest could be advantageous as Tennessee played on Monday night.
Well, what else do we have going for us? We have no wide receivers that are consistent or “reliable” is a better term. Let’s face it, Corey Coleman broke his hand (injury prone), Kenny Britt has been a disappointment and every receiver we drafted last year has been subpar. The offensive line has been great and that’s about it.
Alright, enough of the Debbie Downers, I like Cleveland’s chances to get a win better than San Francisco’s. We made a change last week at quarterback with Kevin Hogan getting the starting nod. It made sense. Kizer was struggling in the five games he started as he threw for just 851 yards, three touchdowns and an unimaginable nine interceptions. Every time Kizer was benched for Hogan, he seemed to spark the offense, but that wasn’t the case against Houston. That being said, Kizer is back to his starting role with a whole week to sit, calm down and analyze the game. Seriously watch on the sidelines and see how the NFL game is played, the throws that need to be made. Hopefully, he will come out with that fire and desire to exploit a defense giving up 337 yards per game.
It won’t be easy though as on the other team we are facing has Marcus Mariota, a dual-threat quarterback who has seen the Browns the past two years since entering the league. He lost as a rookie passing for two touchdown and 257 yards but took seven sacks. Mariota won last year as he threw three touchdowns and 284 yards and added 69 on the ground, a lot more than he did as a rookie (19). He is a threat to run, but he missed a game due to a hamstring injury and ran just two times for zero yards on Monday. If his hamstring isn’t 100%, it could bode in Cleveland’s favor to keep him contained in the pocket. The Browns need to rattle Mariota to force him into making mistakes. He hasn’t been stellar this season with a 4:4 touchdown-interception ratio in five games and has passed for just 1,098 yards, good enough for 28th in the league.
Tennessee will most likely rely on their two-headed monster in the backfield, DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. This would concern me in years past, but Cleveland has been surprising against the run this year allowing just three yards per carry, so that should put us in good shape if our offense can manage to score some points. The Titans defense has been suspect this year, but it has come around lately by holding opponents to under 300 yards the last two weeks. Not a good sign for a struggling Browns offense averaging 308.3 yards per game and converting just 29.6% of third downs. I think Cleveland can win this home game on Sunday, but they probably won’t because they will find a way to muck it up. However, I like Cleveland’s chances at a victory more than San Francisco so there is nothing left to do but sit back and watch.
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