Browns vs. Dolphins: DPD staff predictions for the Week 3 matchup

Aug 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler (5) during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium, the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Cleveland Browns 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler (5) during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium, the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Cleveland Browns 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dawg Pound Daily staff got together to share their thoughts regarding how the Cleveland Browns will fare in today’s game against the Miami Dolphins.

The Cleveland Browns will be led by another rookie quarterback when Cody Kessler starts today’s game against the Miami Dolphins, becoming the 26th starting quarterback for the Browns since 1999. But who’s counting?

Kessler will be doing this without fellow rookie Corey Coleman, who was lost to a broken hand in practice earlier this week. One can dwell on the lack of luck held by the Browns so far this season, but there are still 14 games to be played. One can only hope the injury bug leaves town before the Browns are unable to field a 53-man roster.

The staff here at Dawg Pound Daily got together to share our predictions for today’s game, just one week after no one picked the Browns to win a week ago. There is a bit more optimism surrounding the Browns this week as they head to Miami in a battle of 0-2 teams.

Jonathan Goehring (2016 record: 1-1): Browns 19, Dolphins 16 OT

In Cody Kessler’s first career start, the Browns will find ways to give the rookie quarterback some confidence early on. It won’t be easy, but the offense will move the ball methodically down the field. Still, finishing drives will be an issue.  But the Browns will have enough against the Dolphins to keep themselves in this game.

Defensively, Cleveland will bend but won’t break. Though the Dolphins have downfield passing threats which will create mismatches against Cleveland’s secondary, they have struggled finishing drives in their first two games. Without Arian Foster, Miami will fail to get into the end zone in the first half.

With a 13-6 Browns lead at halftime, both teams will play consistently ugly until Miami finally breaks through early in the fourth quarter. They will take a 16-13 lead, but a turnover will lead to a Browns field goal with about four minutes remaining. This 16-16 tie will remain the score all the way through the end of regulation.

Although the Browns have had issues finishing games in the recent past, one would figure this trend would not last forever. Somehow, some way, the Browns will find a way led by a monster performance from Terrelle Pryor and by far the best game played by their defense this season. In overtime, the Browns will turn the opening drive into three points, and a Tramon Williams interception will seal the ugly 19-16 overtime victory.

Tom Moore (2016 record: 2-0): Dolphins 21, Browns 3

Under normal circumstances the Cleveland Browns would be catching a break today against the winless Miami Dolphins.

Miami’s offense is bad — 24th in the league overall, averaging just 17 points a game and 3.7 yards per carry in the running game. The defense — ranked 27th overall — is not much better as the Dolphins are next-to-last in stopping the run and only average against the pass.

Of course, this being the Browns, normal circumstances don’t apply.

Cleveland enters the game with rookie Cody Kessler making his first NFL start on the road, without top wide receiver Corey Coleman, and with one offensive lineman playing out of position (John Greco at center) and another offensive lineman playing a position he has never played before (Alvin Bailey at right guard).

Eight times before today the Browns have started a quarterback that they drafted and eight times they walked out of those quarterbacks’ debut games with a loss.

Make it nine for nine as the Browns will fall to the Dolphins today, 21-3.

Roger Cohen (2016 record: 1-1): Dolphins 27, Browns 3

It would be the height of magical thinking to hope Cody Kessler comes off the bench to become this generation’s late-round fill-in superstar Tom Brady-like QB. Kessler will surpass my expectations if he 1) doesn’t throw more than one Pick Six interception 2) doesn’t gift wrap a strip sack TD fumble 3) completes more than 10 passes 4) for more than 100 yards. Oh, and if Kessler and new center John Greco can connect on more than 90 percent of their snaps, not just shotguns. Lofty goals, indeed.

Good news is the Browns won’t blow another PAT because the offense will be limited to one 30-something yard long field goal after safety Derrick Kindred snares his first NFL interception. The Dolphins open the game with a 80-yard drive and settle for a short FG, turn two Kessler turnovers into 10 more points for a 13-3 halftime lead.

An early third quarter fumble makes it 20-3 and Dolphins end the Browns’ misery with that Pick 6 in garbage time. After the 27-3 loss, Browns coach Hue Jackson opens the door for starting Charlie Whitehurst against the Redskins in Week 4.

Eric Szczepinski (2016 record: 1-1): Dolphins 28, Browns 14

Injuries have began to pile up on this young team, with key players such as Corey Coleman and Carl Nassib already missing time. The depth on this roster isn’t good enough to afford key losses.

Coach Hue Jackson will construct a run heavy game plan and try to call a friendly game around rookie quarterback Cody Kessler. Kessler will manage the game and lead the Browns on two scoring drives. However, that won’t be enough scoring for the Browns, as Ryan Tannehill and Jarvis Landry will be to0 much for the defense, especially with Joe Haden not at 100 percent.

Despite the key injuries, I expect the Browns to continue to compete hard and be in this football game late into the fourth quarter. But the youth and inexperience of this team will show throughout the game and the Dolphins will secure their first win of the season in front of their home fans.

Joel Cade (2016 record: 1-1): Dolphins 24, Browns 10

The Browns enter this game reeling from a series of injuries that occurred in practice. With all the bad luck that has befallen this team this week, one has to ask: Can this get any worse?

The Dolphins offense is a zone run based scheme with a west coast, short passing game as a compliment. The zone run scheme should be old hat for the Browns as this will be the third week in a row they will face the scheme. The Browns have done an excellent job against this scheme the past two games. That trend should continue against the Dolphins.

However, the short passing game will give the Browns fits as they have failed to collision low crossers all season. Allowing receivers to run free over the middle of the field will be a disaster waiting to happen. It will be through the passing game the Dolphins will have their success.

On offense the Browns will need to attack the perimeter with sweeps, screens and draws in order to be successful against the Dolphins’ “Wide 9” 4-3 base look. The Dolphins have a terrific front seven that is very stingy against the run. However, the back end can be thrown on. It’s déjà vu all over again as this has been the Browns’ opponents’ strengths and weaknesses all season.

Although watching Cody Kessler play will be fun, there will not be much else to smile about as this one ends the same way the previous two have, Browns lose.

Matt Stevenson (2016 Record: 1-0): Dolphins 22, Browns 13

Rookie quarterback Cody Kessler is making his NFL debut against the Miami Dolphins after RGIII and Josh McCown are out with injuries. The offensive line has dramatically declined since last season and the Dolphins physical defense will seek to punish Kessler.

Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and Mario Williams are a tough first matchup and with first-round pick Corey Coleman out, Kessler doesn’t have much to work with. Hopefully Gary Barnidge can support the rookie and find his 2015 form after two disappointing games to begin the season.

The Dolphins almost came back and beat the New England Patriots last week after injuring Jimmy Garoppolo, and will attempt to carry that momentum into their matchup with the Browns. Kessler has a lackluster debut but will survive the day and the Browns lose to the Dolphins, 22-13.

Steven Kubitza (2016 record: 1-1): Browns 20, Dolphins 16

Well, this should be an interesting one.

Based on the injuries and the two losses to start the season, it is not likely the Browns will win this game against the Dolphins. But this is the Browns we are talking about. The team that seems to pull off surprising wins nearly every season, only to fade toward the end when the injuries become too much to overcome.

Today seems like it will be one of those games. Cody Kessler is making his debut, but the Browns will establish the run game early with Isaiah Crowell, and Hue Jackson will successfully pull off some trick plays to stun the Miami defenders, who are expecting an easy game.

Next: Storylines to watch vs. Dolphins

It may just be false hope, but Kessler will be able to manage this game, helped by a strong performance by his defense, and will prove why he is more than just an afterthought on the depth chart.

The Browns will pick up a win after last week’s disappointment, putting an end to the 0-16 talks in 2016.