The Cleveland Browns will be favored again on Sunday
The Cleveland Browns opened as touchdown favorites vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars in their Week 12 matchup. While this is a game they should win, Browns fans are all too familiar with the team “dropping the ball” in games like this in the past.
First-year head coach Kevin Stefanski has done a tremendous job of keeping the team focused and motivated, and this week will be no different as they prepare to head south.
If the Browns can escape Jacksonville with a win, it will guarantee Stefanski with a non-losing first season as the head coach. It also helps to slowly change the losing culture of the entire organization. Below are three keys for the Browns to get a victory on Sunday vs. the Jaguars.
Key No. 3: Dominant Defense:
Even without star defensive end Myles Garrett, the Browns defense stepped up in a big way vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. They managed to sack Carson Wentz five times, caused two turnovers, and scored 9 points themselves in the Browns win.
Unfortunately, Garrett will be out once again because of COVID-19, but it is also unclear if Jaguars starting quarterback Gardner Minshew will be able to play or not because of a thumb injury. In their week 11 matchup vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Jags started Jake Luton at quarterback who went 16 of 37 for 151 yards and four interceptions.
Cleveland doesn’t have near the defense as the Steelers, but with a young quarterback and a defensive line coming off their best game of the season they can certainly tighten up coverage and make things difficult. If Olivier Vernon, Adrian Clayborn, and Porter Gustin can get after the quarterback like they did last week, the alarm clock in their head is going to get short, and that is when mistakes happen.
The big question of the week will be if safety Ronnie Harrison is able to play. With cornerback Denzel Ward already ruled out with a calf injury, Harrison will be needed. If the Browns would happen to lose Harrison as well on Sunday, Cleveland will need backups Kevin Johnson and Karl Joseph to step up in huge ways.
At this point in the week, it looks like a reasonable chance Harrison will play. Look for the pass rush to continue in a big way which will cause mistakes. The Browns defense has a great shot of holding this offense to 10 points or less and setting the tone for the back half of the season.