The Cleveland Browns returned from their bye week with a 19-17 win at home over the (previously) undefeated San Francisco 49ers. This game undoubtedly was one of the best wins in recent Cleveland memory. It was not only a testament to how great this defense is but also has restored hope in Cleveland’s season. Let’s get into why they won.
Cleveland was once again without starting QB Deshaun Watson (shoulder) and started former Carolina Panther and Chicago Bears QB PJ Walker. Walker by no means won this game for Cleveland, throwing for 192 yards, and two interceptions, while completing 53% of his passes.
Walker showed on Sunday he is capable of commanding offenses, and leading scoring drives, but he's not a Super Bowl-winning guy. Cleveland needs Watson back soon if they are to make a case for the playoffs or even possibly winning the AFC North.
Cleveland’s run game is no longer as dominant as it was with Nick Chubb at the helm, but the committee headed by Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt just ran for 160 yards on 34 attempts, the most anyone has put on the 49ers defense so far this season. My biggest takeaway from the run game is that Hunt needs more touches.
He has been steadily rising in touches every game this year, with a season-high 15 touches for 71 yards and a touchdown last Sunday. I expect Kareem to continue taking a larger and larger role in the offense and possibly eventually taking more of a lead-back role.
This might just be the best Cleveland defense I’ve seen in my lifetime, and it showed against the Niners that they are capable of winning games alone. Purdy struggled severely in his first regular-season loss as a starter, being held to 125 yards, one touchdown, and one interception while completing 44% of his passes. This Cleveland defense, in my opinion, is the best in the NFL, and paired with a healthy Deshaun Watson is more than capable of winning the division and making a playoff run.
Cleveland plays the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7 at 1 p.m. on the road, led by backup QB Gardner Minshew. Minshew assumed the starting role after star rookie Anthony Richardson went down with an injury to his throwing shoulder.
The Colts sit at 3-3 and are coming off a loss at Jacksonville, where they ran the ball 17 times for 44 yards (2.6 YPC), and where Minshew threw 3 interceptions. I’m expecting another Cleveland Defensive masterclass and a big Cleveland win on the road. Watson remains possible to return from injury as early as Week 7 at Indianapolis, but nothing has been confirmed
My prediction, Cleveland 34, Colts 17.