The Cleveland Browns are back home at Cleveland Browns Stadium this Sunday as they take on the Jacksonville Jaguars following their two-game road trip. Cleveland fell to the Broncos 12-29 and the Rams 19-36, leaving them at 7-5 and third in the AFC North Standings. The Browns and Jaguars have faced each other 18 times since 1995, with the Jaguars winning 12 of their meetings. Here are three keys to victory for the Cleveland Browns, who are looking to keep their playoff hopes alive:
3. Shut Down Defense
The Cleveland Browns still have one of the best defenses in the National Football League despite allowing 793 total yards in the past two games. Cleveland's defense has allowed an average of 260.5 yards per game this season but gave up 294 yards to the Broncos and 399 to the Rams. The Broncos averaged 4.7 yards per play in week 12, while the Rams 6.4 in week 13. Their secondary allowed 404 passing yards and four touchdowns. They also failed to intercept Russell Wilson or Matt Stafford.
The Jaguars have totaled 821 offensive yards in their past two games, 445 against the Texans in Week 12 and 376 against the Bengals in Week 12. Jacksonville is 12th in offensive yards per game average in 2023 with 358.2 YPG. If the Cleveland defense can revert to their earlier dominating ways against the Jaguars, especially in the passing game, the Browns' will look like the league's best once again.
2. Ground Yardage
The Cleveland Browns have been without their star running back, Nick Chubb, since Week 2, but that hasn’t stopped them from having one of the top rushing offenses in the league. This season, the Browns are 5-3 when they rush for over 100 yards and just 1-3 when they can’t break the 100-yard mark.
The Jacksonville Jaguars enter Sunday’s matchup with a top 5 run defense when it comes to rushing yards allowed (1,117), 11th fewest yards per carry allowed (4.1), and have allowed just ten rushing touchdowns all season. However, The Browns offense is seventh in rushing yards this season (1,621), 14th in yards per carry (4.2), and has rushed for 11 touchdowns.
If the Browns can utilize their run game more than the previous two games, rush for over 100 yards, and get Joe Flacco into a position to get numbers on the board, then the Browns offense will run like a well-oiled machine.
1. Keep It Short And Sweet, Cool Joe
38-year-old Joe Flacco made his first start in nearly a year with a brand new team and only a few weeks of preparation last week against the Rams. Flacco finished the day going 23/44 for 254 yards (5.8 Yards Per Attempt), ten first downs, two touchdowns, and an interception. Consistency has been a significant issue for the Browns this season, starting four different quarterbacks through 13 games, but Flacco showed the consistency a team making a playoff push needs in his Browns debut.
- 84 Passing Yards
- 1 Touchdown
- 72 Passing Yards
- 66 Yards
- 32 Passing Yards
- 1 Touchdown
- 1 Interception
Flacco didn’t break any single-game passing records against the Rams, but he stayed consistent throughout the entire game, which is something the Browns have yet to see from rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson or PJ Walker. If Flacco can keep a majority of his passes short and sweet, then the Browns will have a definite shot at beating the Jaguars this Sunday and securing the second spot in the AFC North, as well as an AFC Wild Card spot.