Writer: Martin McConnell
Game: Cleveland Browns at New Orleans
Summary: On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns will head into one of the most hostile territories in the National Football League. Despite technically having the better record, the Browns will have a very tough task ahead of them, taking on Drew Brees, his merry band of fantastic weapons, and a defense that is nothing to sneeze at. Let’s take a look at how the Browns’ offensive unit will match up with New Orleans’ defense in the Superdome.
First things first, don’t let the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fool you. It’s likely that Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 417-yard, four-touchdown performance was an anomaly. It is perhaps even more likely that New Orleans’ defense played poorly last week because this writer started them in fantasy football, but that is neither here nor there. In any case, Tyrod Taylor will not have an easy day, throwing against former Defensive Rookie of the Year, Marshon Lattimore. Cleveland may have a better time getting a running game going, and focus on shorter passes to attack the Saints’ slight weakness at linebacker. Any way you slice it, the Browns might have a tough time getting yardage. Let’s take a look at the other side of the ball.
Drew Brees is one of the greats, and though they have a budding defense, don’t expect the Browns to totally contain him. If they can manage to keep him in a one-dimensional game, however, they might have a better shot. Last year, the Browns were seventh in the league defending the run. Not bad, but they also let James Conner look like an all-pro in week one. The Browns will have to tighten up on last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, Alvin Kamara. Shutting down at least a couple of Brees’s weapons will give you an easier time, but expect the Saints to still put up points.
The Browns will not go with a whimper in this one, as their team is much improved from 2017. But, to say that they will shut down one of the league’s elite in week two would be a bit foolish.
Final score: New Orleans 31, Browns 21