Matchup No. 1: Martin Emerson Jr. vs Nico Collins
Just how the Texans defense needs to key in on Amari Cooper, the Browns defense must account for Houston’s Nico Collins. The third-year pro was a non-factor in the team’s Christmas Eve matchup, but that is more indicative of who was playing quarterback for the Texans than it was of Collins’ abilities. But now with Stroud under center, the Browns need to have a plan for limiting Collins ability to take over games.
Look no further than the Texans regular season finale on the type of damage that Collins is capable of inflicting on opposing defenses. Collins caught all nine of his targets for a robust 195 yards in the Texans win and get in 17th game of the season. Bottom line, when the Texans have to make a play, Stroud leans heavily on Collins’ playmaking ability.
How will the Browns look to combat Collins on Saturday? Two words; Martin Emerson. The second-year corner, who was egregiously snubbed for his first Pro Bowl nomination, is more than capable of locking up Collins.
Emerson possesses the necessary length to combat the 6-foot-4 Collins, and the strength to get him off his spot at the line of scrimmage. With Denzel Ward getting nicked up at practice on Thursday, the Browns should lean heavily on Emerson’s particular set of skills to help neutralize Collins. Even if Ward can go on Saturday, by all indications he should be, the Browns would be wise to leave the Collins’ matchup in Emerson’s more than capable hands.