It’s gut check time for the Cleveland Browns.
With a shot at the playoffs all but officially lost, many wonder how this season will end.
That includes former Ohio State Buckeye and northeast Ohio native Tyvis Powell as eluded to on Twitter.
Historically the Browns weren’t a team that many free agent players found appealing, I wonder with D Wat and strong team finish to the season if that could be enough to change player’s perspective this upcoming off season #Browns
— Tyvis Powell (@1Tyvis) December 14, 2022
Will the orange and brown finish strong or whimper toward the end?
The answer to that starts this Sunday in Cleveland as the team welcomes in their AFC North rival, the Baltimore Ravens.
It will be Deshaun Watson’s first start in Cleveland since returning from his suspension.
With Baltimore still without Lamar Jackson, how will Sunday’s affair at First Energy Stadium go down?
Here are a couple of things to look for ahead of Sunday’s Week 15 battle.
Deshaun Watson Will Throw for Multiple Touchdowns
Browns fans are eagerly awaiting a breakout game from Watson that proves he is still an elite talent.
The front office is probably ahead of the fans on the list of folks waiting for that, too, after breaking the bank to get him this offseason.
At times, he’s shown shades of his old self.
— Tyler Johnson (@T_johnson_TJ) December 13, 2022
At others, well, he’s been flat out bad.
Deshaun Watson has not played well yet. He fails to execute this common "Dagger" concept twice. Timing/processing is still off.
It's a very simple read, but Late Eyes have been a theme throughout his return. The first time doesn't hurt, the second time kills his team. pic.twitter.com/N2OnmFlC5o
— JetPack Galileo (@JetPackGalileo) December 13, 2022
So, what will he look like on Sunday?
Ideally, being in front of a home crowd will help.
Granted, it’s a first-time experience for Watson as he makes his debut start with the Browns in Cleveland.
The home fans will still likely help him settle in.
However, the defense, specifically the pass defense, that he faces on Sunday could help him operate early and often.
The Ravens have given up the 26th most passing yards this season.
Pittsburgh’s Mitch Trubisky managed to piece together a scoring drive in a sequence that somewhat summarized Baltimore’s issues defending the passing game.
Touchdown, Steelers. Ravens' pass defense with an atypical bad stretch:
— Tyus Bowser ends up on Pat Freiermuth on third-and-long
— Marlon Humphrey loses track of deep shot
— DPI on Humphrey
Ravens' lead is down to 10-7.
— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) December 11, 2022
Watson has deep ball targets in Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Plus, David Njoku’s elevated play this season will only continue to help Watson.
If Deshaun gets in a rhythm with the offense early, we could see his first multi-touchdown game of the year.
Browns Will Score a Defensive Touchdown
I made this same prediction for Cleveland’s game in Houston two weeks ago.
The defense ended up scoring twice, plus a punt return score courtesy of Peoples-Jones.
Former Mountaineer Tony Fields with a pick-six!!
— Wesley Shoemaker (@wesleyshoe) December 4, 2022
— CAVS BACKERS (@CavsBackers) December 4, 2022
DONOVAN PEOPLES-JONES TO THE HOUSE 🏠
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 4, 2022
That didn’t exactly happen against Cincinnati.
But, that’s Joe Burrow under center for the Bengals, not Kyle Allen.
Tyler Huntley isn’t as atrocious as Allen, but he’s no Burrow.
Backups can be more turnover prone as we’ve seen this season.
Huntley has thrown one interception without a touchdown.
He suffered a concussion in their win over Pittsburgh on Sunday as third-stringer Anthony Brown finished the game.
Brown has attempted just five passes this season.
Needless to say, no matter who starts for Baltimore on Sunday, Joe Woods’ unit will be licking their chops.
Credit to Baltimore, they handled Pittsburgh’s defense incredibly well last week despite missing Jackson and Huntley.
If the Browns’ secondary catches Baltimore’s signal caller staring down his first read and can jump it, watch out.
Perhaps Myles Garrett could even find a way to make a signature play for his season.