3 keys to victory in Week 18: Browns must contain Ja'Marr Chase

The Cleveland Browns can finish the regular season at 12-5 with these 3 keys to victory against the Bengals.

Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

The Cleveland Browns are set to wrap up their 2023 regular season this Sunday in Cincinnati against the Bengals. The Browns punched their ticket to the playoffs last Thursday following their victory over the New York Jets. The Cincinnati Bengals, who have been without quarterback Joe Burrow since Week 11, were eliminated from playoff contention last week in their loss to the Kansas City Cheifs.

While head coach Kevin Stefanski has yet to announce all the players who will sit this week publicly, we do know the Browns will be sitting Joe Flacco and will start recently signed quarterback Jeff Driskel. Here are three keys to victory for the Cleveland Browns against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 18: 

3. Browns must stop the run

The Cincinnati Bengals are currently dead last in rushing yards this season with 1,344 but have rushed for 11 touchdowns, just four behind Cleveland. Bengals running back Joe Mixon is leading Cincinnatti’s run game with 923 rushing yards on 243 attempts and eight touchdowns. 

Joe Mixon: 

  • 16 Games
  • 243 Rushing Attempts
  • 923 Rushing Yards (57.7 Yards Per Game Average) 
  • 53 Rushing First Downs 
  • 8 Rushing Touchdowns 

Rest of Team: 

  • 16 Games 
  • 110 Rushing Attempts 
  • 421 Rushing Yards
  • 22 Rushing First Downs 
  • 3 Rushing Touchdowns  

If the Cleveland Browns can keep Joe Mixon from moving the Bengals offense down the field and extending drives, the Browns can come away with their 12th win on the season. 

2. Browns must contain Ja'Marr Chase 

Despite losing his star quarterback, Ja’Marr Chase has been having an excellent season, cracking the 1,000 mark for the third consecutive year with 1,194. Chase is in the top 15 for receiving yards and top five in receiving first downs on the year, making him one of the league’s most effective playmakers.

  • 15 Games 
  • 96 Receptions
  • 1,197 Receiving Yards 
  • 62 Receiving First Downs 
  • 7 Touchdowns

If the Browns secondary can keep him from having a big game and keep the dynamic receiver out of the endzone, Cleveland will have no problem winning the Battle of Ohio. 

1. Rely on offensive playmakers 

Cleveland has already clinched their spot in the playoffs and isn’t willing to risk losing to their 38-year-old gunslinger, Joe Flacco. Instead, they'll look to recently signed 30-year-old Jeff Draskel to take the reigns and make his first start as a Cleveland Brown. Driskel, who has previously been with Cincinnati, Detroit, and Houston, has played 23 career games and 11 starts since entering the league in 2018. 

  • 23 Games - 11 Starts (1-9)
  • 216/365 Completions (59.2%)
  • 2,228 Passing Yards (96.9 Yards Per Game Average)
  • 104 Passing First Downs 
  • 14 Passing Touchdown
  • 8 Interceptions
  • 73 Rushing Attempts
  • 384 Rushing Yards (16.7 Yards Per Game Average)  
  • 24 Rushing First Downs 
  • 3 Rushing Touchdowns   

If Driskel can rely on his offensive playmakers to move the ball and relieve the pressure off himself, the Browns offense can put itself in a position to put points on the board.

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