After two wins in their first three games this season, the Cleveland Browns have seemingly found some stability after a tumultuous offseason.
They’re set to face the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday in Week 4, and it is a contest that shouldn’t be presumed to be an easy one.
Atlanta is just 1-2 on the season, and defeating them could be difficult, especially given the injuries the Browns have right now.
Everyone needs to step up, especially as long as star quarterback Deshaun Watson is serving his 11-game suspension, and if enough men do so, Cleveland can find itself at 3-1 in just a few days.
The team needs to win certain matchups against the Falcons, including these three.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah Versus Cordarrelle Patterson
Patterson is having a breakout season thus far in 2022, as he has run for 302 yards and two touchdowns in three games, and he ranks among the NFL’s leaders in total rushing yards and yards per rush attempt.
Owusu-Koramoah has been dealing with a groin ailment, but if he’s able to play, he needs to be at his best in order to keep Patterson in check.
So far this year, Cleveland ranks seventh in rushing yards allowed but 27th in rushing touchdowns allowed.
Denzel Ward Versus Drake London
London has been arguably the league’s best rookie wide receiver so far, as he has collected 214 yards and two touchdowns in three games.
Drake London: 82.5 PFF Grade
Ranks 1st among all offensive rookies⭐️ pic.twitter.com/3xN2LakjXZ
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 27, 2022
At 6-foot-5, he is quite a target, as he is taller than many defensive backs in the league.
Ward is going to have to be on his game on Sunday in order to limit London’s receptions and also limit how many yards he piles up after he gets his hands on a reception.
London is averaging 4.9 yards after the catch per reception, so every member of the Browns’ secondary will need to pitch in and make sure they don’t miss any tackles on him.
Drake London continues to prove he’s already a fantastic receiver: pic.twitter.com/Mq2C3XstZI
— PFF ATL Falcons (@PFF_Falcons) September 25, 2022
With Garrett and Clowney banged up, the Browns will likely have trouble pressuring Falcons QB Marcus Mariota, and since Ward is only 5-foot-11, Grant Delpit and John Johnson, Cleveland’s starting safeties, will be called on to help contain London.
The team ranks 18th in passing yards allowed so far this season, and improvement will be needed on that front in order to continue to rack up victories.
Everyone Versus Marcus Mariota
No one will confuse Mariota for former Falcons star QB Michael Vick, but Mariota is a capable dual-threat quarterback who could very well take advantage of the Browns.
Even before the injuries to Garrett and Clowney, there were signs of slippage defensively for Cleveland, most notably when they blew a huge lead in the final two minutes of Week 2 versus the New York Jets by giving up two touchdowns in succession.
The team cannot allow Mariota to get comfortable and find London and tight end Kyle Pitts, but at the same time, the middle of its defense has to be alert and prevent him from moving the chains with his legs.
Mariota has 92 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns so far this season, and you can expect that aspect of his game to be a point of emphasis for Kevin Stefanski and his coaching staff.