The (2-1) Cleveland Browns are well rested after taking down their rival Pittsburgh Steelers.
They will be tested on the road against the (1-2) Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Who will prevail?
Let’s take a look at our writer’s bold predictions for this Sunday’s matchup.
Writer: Wendi Oliveros
It seems like a lifetime ago that the Browns beat the Steelers on Thursday Night Football in Week 3.
That was a blessed event that should mark the beginning of a winning streak.
However, the defensive injuries since then have been many, and this week has been a disjointed series of practices with players in and out.
Most notably, neither Myles Garrett nor Jadeveon Clowney has practiced in the latter stages of the week, and I think both will eventually be ruled out for the game.
Clowney cannot play on an injured ankle, and Garrett’s body should rest after the trauma he experienced in his Monday afternoon car crash.
Taven Bryan and Joe Haeg have already been ruled out.
Add to that a banged-up Denzel Ward and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah along with the loss of Anthony Walker Jr. for the remainder of the season, and there are just too many defensive disruptions to deal with this week.
On the other side of the ball, the Browns’ offense will continue to play well while facing a Falcons defense that has struggled.
So far this year the Falcons defense has allowed 4.8 yards per rush, 19/40 on 3rd down conversions, 65 total first downs, and 24 missed tackles (PFF). The Browns will continue to lean on the offensive line and the run game and should have plenty of success #Browns pic.twitter.com/mF6aLyrcac
— Jacob Roach (@roachizm13) September 30, 2022
Tommy Togiai, Perrion Winfrey, and Roderick Perry could get some snaps to show what they can do.
In the end, I think the Falcons have a slight home-field advantage and will upend the Browns by a field goal with the final score being 24-21.
My Prediction: Falcons 24, Browns 21
Writer: Ben Donahue
It’s hard to believe, but the Cleveland Browns are only 90 seconds away from being undefeated.
The Browns’ game formula has been the same for the first three weeks of the season.
A healthy dose of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt; safe, low-risk passing from Jacoby Brissett; and a receiver (or two) that has a pretty solid day.
Cleveland stayed with this formula in their win against the Steelers last week.
Chubb had 113 yards rushing, Brissett threw for 220 yards, and Amari Cooper and David Njoku paced the Browns’ passing game.
The Atlanta Falcons are 1-2 but have lost both their games by a combined five points.
Atlanta is built like Cleveland, for the time being.
Marcus Mariota has been methodical in his play, passing for just 640 yards this season along with three touchdowns and three picks.
Cordarrelle Patterson, currently listed as questionable for Sunday, has been reborn as a running back.
He has averaged 6.2 yards per attempt so far with 302 total yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Mariota has good weapons to throw to in tight end Kyle Pitts and rookie receiver Drake London.
The latter combination will be difficult to cover in a zone scheme, so here’s hoping Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods junks the coverage in favor of man-to-man.
Unfortunately for Atlanta, it has one of the worst defenses in the NFL.
Meanwhile, the Browns’ defense hasn’t been much better and is currently ranked 23rd in the league in points against.
Myles Garrett will not play Sunday due to injuries sustained in his car accident earlier in the week.
Jadeveon Clowney is also a question mark (as of Friday night) and Taven Bryan is out, leaving the front four in a bind.
Although the game is in Atlanta, I’m still leaning toward Cleveland, especially if Patterson doesn’t play.
Keeping mistakes to a minimum, staying with their formula, and getting even a solid effort from the defense should give Cleveland its third win.
My Prediction: Browns 30, Falcons 23
Writer: Pat Opperman
Remember how the Cleveland Browns defense was supposed to be one of the best in the NFL this year?
Teams like the Atlanta Falcons were not supposed to be a threat.
But through no credit to Marcus Mariota or his teammates, Cleveland’s defense faces a challenge this week.
Cleveland could be without as many as 4 players from their starting front 6 Sunday.
And one of the healthy starters, Jacob Phillips, was just elevated this week.
But it is fortunate the Browns face a rather vanilla offense with few stars.
And one of those stars, Cordarelle Patterson, is hobbled with a knee injury himself.
Cleveland’s offense can help keep the defense rested by continuing their methodical, ball-control attack.
And Atlanta doesn’t present a big challenge to that plan, either.
These two teams are the only offenses to score at least 26 points in each of the first 3 weeks.
The only way the Browns score fewer this week is if they take so much time to score, they run out of possessions.
But it is more likely the offense comes out swinging and the defense holds up just enough in a fun game to watch.
Take the over, and…
My Prediction: Browns 33, Falcons 26
Writer: Rocco Nuosci
With no Myles Garrett available for Sunday, the Browns’ road to beating the Falcons becomes a bit tougher.
Atlanta dropped their first two games of the season but had an impressive road victory last week over Seattle.
Their two losses have come by a combined five total points.
Similar to Cleveland, they could easily be 3-0.
Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson carved up the Seahawks defense for 141 yards and 1 touchdown on 17 carries.
Their quarterback, Marcus Mariota, isn’t having a bad season by any means either.
He sits 12th in ESPN’s QBR list heading into Week Four. He does have three interceptions but has done enough to keep Atlanta in football games.
Atlanta’s rush defense is better than Pittsburgh’s, but still expect a heavy dose of Nick Chubb as we saw last week.
However, the Falcons defense is allowing 271 passing yards a game, sixth worst in the league.
If they load up the box to try and slow down the running game, Jacoby Brissett has to be sharp.
He performed well last week and should have the confidence to do so again Sunday.
My Prediction: Browns 27, Falcons 17