Cleveland rolls into Atlanta for the second of 3 games against the other finalists in the Deshaun Watson Sweepstakes.
And like Carolina, the Falcons will try to beat the Cleveland Browns with a much lesser quarterback.
But Kevin Stefanski’s troops will do well not to be lulled into a false sense of security by their opponent’s won-loss record.
Atlanta’s defense blew a 17-point 4th quarter lead in Week 1 to fall to New Orleans.
The Jacoby Brissett led Cleveland #Browns are 2-1 and first place in the AFC North. pic.twitter.com/dO2DlPnWgu
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) September 23, 2022
And Marcus Mariota put up 17 4th quarter points of his own, falling just short of an upset over the NFC Champion Rams.
With just a couple of lucky bounces, 1-2 Atlanta could easily be 3-0.
Of course, nobody has to tell Browns fans how fast victories can turn into unsavory defeats.
Let’s take a minute (or 1:55) to make 3 bold predictions for the Browns versus Falcons game.
Browns Top 30 Points
Kevin Stefanski must resist the urge to get cute after finding some success with Jacoby Brissett.
Brissett came as advertised by Browns management, much to the surprise of many fans.
And Geno Smith, trying to write a similar story in Seattle, put up over 300 passing yards against Atlanta Sunday.
might want to stop sleeping on 7 😴#TNF : 220 yds, 67.7% comp, 2 TD, 109.6 QBRat
League ranks: 6th in pass yds (596), 3rd in 1st downs (34)@JBrissett12 | #Browns pic.twitter.com/6Yje755H8s
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 24, 2022
But Cleveland’s winning formula calls for a more modest 200-225 calm and controlled yards around the running game.
That said, Brissett can’t help if Amari Cooper, David Njoku, and the others put up big yards after the catch this week.
Atlanta’s defense is not very good, and 300 passing yards or not, Nick Chubb chips in enough for a 31-35 point output.
Young Defenders Step Up
Jacob Phillips made his mark on the Steelers game with a sack and a brilliant pass break-up after Anthony Walker went down.
But it will be up to Cleveland’s newest defenders to plug a pair of bigger holes up front.
Cleveland could be without Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney and already lost Chase Winovich.
Interesting note: Myles Garrett not listed as *injured on this depth chart, but Clowney is. https://t.co/Y9XpHDuvEd
— Tino Bovenzi (@TinoBovenzi) September 28, 2022
Ready or not, that leaves rookies Alex Wright and Isaiah Thomas to man the edges Sunday.
And they will surprise Atlanta with their first NFL sacks on top of several quarterback pressures.
But the bigger surprise will be how they contain Cordarelle Patterson in a preview of Cleveland’s future.
Battle Of The Kickers
It is too early to proclaim Cade York the savior of the Browns’ kicking game, especially with 2 missed extra points.
But it is fair to say this game features 2 of the best long-distance field goal kickers in the NFL.
Atlanta’s Younghoe Koo already has 3 field goals of 50 yards or more heading into Week 4.
Can I interest you in Cade York from 49, 52 & 56? #Browns pic.twitter.com/ZfTw56ykeQ
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) September 16, 2022
And Kevin Stefanski should consider something before deciding to go for it on every 4th down this week.
His counterpart won’t pass up 3 almost-certain points too often, and neither should Stefanski.
That’s why we predict 7 total field goals and a final score of 33-23 in a big Browns victory.
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