The Cleveland Browns travel across the country to take on the Seattle Seahawks in a matchup of 4-2 teams in Week 8. While both teams enter the contest in a good spot, neither can afford to lose ground as they are both looking up at their respective division leaders.
Cleveland will once again be without their franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson. Making his second start in the last three games will be P.J. Walker. With a full week of reps in practice and a game plan formulated for him, Walker will be tasked with leading the Browns offense against a Seattle defense that is allowing only 19.7 points per game.
However, the Browns defense is 19.2 points per game, despite allowing 38 points to the Colts in week seven. Jim Schwartz defense will need to stay stingy as they take on a Seahawks offense comes into week eight averaging 24 points per game. On paper this is as tightly a contested matchup as any you will find on this week’s NFL slate.
Here are three matchups the Browns must win to advance to 5-2
Matchup No. 3: Juan Thornhill vs Geno Smith
One of the biggest differences that Jim Schwartz has brought to the Browns defense is the uptick in man-to-man coverage. There are multiple reasons for that, chief among those reasons is that man coverage suits the skill sets of their cornerbacks. However, a much less talked about reason for Cleveland's success in man coverage is Juan Thornhill’s ability to take away the middle of the field.
Seattle has a good stable of wide receivers, and they will test the Browns ability to stay sticky in man coverage. And due to the level of wide receivers that he has to throw to, Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith will take chances that most quarterbacks cannot afford to.
However, the Browns possess a lethal pass rush that should speed up Smith’s urgency to get the football out of his hands. That combination should give Thornhill the opportunity to utilize his range and make some plays on the ball this week. Cleveland has to find a way to win the turnover battle, and Thornhill is a prime candidate this week to snag a pick from Smith.