The (6-9) Cleveland Browns matchup with the (7-7) Washington Commanders in week 17 of the NFL season.
The Browns enter this matchup coming off a loss against the New Orleans Saints.
Who will prevail?
Let’s take a look at our writer’s bold predictions for this matchup.
Writer: Wendi Oliveros
For better and for worse (because we have seen both), the Cleveland Browns 2022 season is inching to its conclusion.
Unfortunately, a postseason run is not in the cards in 2022.
This means the Browns want to play well and win out in the next two weeks to set the tone for what is hopefully a positive 2023 offseason.
The Browns’ opponent in Week 17, the Washington Commanders, on the other hand, need to win to stay in their NFC playoff picture.
They are under pressure and are making roster decisions to improve their likelihood of winning.
Commanders HC Ron Rivera announced earlier in the week that Carson Wentz will be the QB1.
Taylor Heinicke has recently been ineffective, but he appears to be a beloved leader.
He also managed to help his team dethrone the then-undefeated Philadelphia Eagles.
This makes Rivera’s QB1 decision a little bit of a head-scratcher, but it favors the Browns and is a big reason why I think the Browns win this game.
The Browns have positive past history against Wentz from his Eagles days.
In fact, the Browns’ defense got a Pick 6 off of him and a safety back in the glory days of the 2020 season.
I think the 2022 Browns will cue up a big game against Wentz and the Commanders and win by the final score of 24-20.
My Prediction: Browns 24, Commanders 20
Writer: Ben Donahue
At 6-9, and eliminated from playoff contention, the Cleveland Browns are merely playing out the schedule.
Last week, Cleveland played at home and lost against a Saints team that is mediocre on a good day.
That doesn’t give one much confidence against a seven-win Commanders team playing at home in Washington.
The Commanders have lost twice and tied once in their last three games.
Two of those contests were against the Giants.
Despite their record, Washington’s postseason hopes are still on life support, so they have an incentive to beat a weak Cleveland team.
It’s safe to say that the Browns should focus primarily on their run game and let Nick Chubb run wild.
So far, quarterback Deshaun Watson has not come close to living up to the hype.
In his limited 2022 action, Watson has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns and has averaged only 175 passing yards per contest.
That’s a problem since the Washington secondary isn’t great, giving up 22 scores to opposing receivers this year, tied for 20th in the NFL.
The Commanders have also experienced inconsistent quarterback play as Taylor Heinicke and Carson Wentz have both tossed the pigskin.
Washington announced earlier this week that Wentz will start Sunday’s game.
Wentz has three solid pass catchers in Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and Curtis Samuel.
Cleveland’s secondary has a 98 rating against receivers, a ranking of 27th in the NFL.
If Wentz can get on track, he will take advantage of the Browns’ poor pass defense.
The Browns’ run defense isn’t much better, giving up over five yards per carry.
Commanders’ running back Brian Robinson will get plenty of carries and challenge Myles Garrett and company.
Basically, the Browns’ coaching staff and front office should use these next two games to take a hard look at next year’s roster.
I just don’t see things improving any time soon for Cleveland.
My Prediction: Commanders 24, Browns 14
Writer: Pat Opperman
Heading into the 2022 NFL season, we might have made early assumptions about certain games on the schedule.
For instance, the eliminated Commanders would be easy prey for the division title-contending Cleveland Browns in Week 17.
But life comes at you pretty fast in the NFL, and 6-game suspensions turn into an 11-game suspension on a whim.
And then we find out Deshaun Watson never had the Browns’ regular-season playbook to learn and practice with.
Or the Commanders turn to a backup quarterback who puts Washington in a playoff position.
And now, the Commanders hand the reins back to Carson Wentz, their high-priced starter.
Washington (7-7-1) currently sits in the 7th and final NFC post-season entry position.
But they have 3 teams hot on their tail at 7-8, so winning out might be their only chance.
Meanwhile, Cleveland is playing out the string.
Their best bet is Deshaun Watson is desperate to show what he can do after some unimpressive performances.
Eventually, even Kevin Stefanski has to remember he has a quarterback with a big arm and open things up.
This could be an exciting game between 2 well-matched teams with QBs trying to get back on the map.
My Prediction: Commanders 20, Browns 16
One team has a shot at the playoffs still when they take the field Sunday.
That alone could be a huge factor, as Washington will do everything to keep their season and playoff hopes alive.
That comes with added pressure too, however.
For the Browns, wins and losses don’t really matter now. Cleveland can simply be a spoiler.
Carson Wentz will be the man handling the Commanders’ uneasy quarterback situation on Sunday.
Taylor Heinicke was yanked after his second giveaway in last week’s loss to San Francisco.
Defensively, Washington boasts the fourth-best defense in the league in terms of yards allowed per-game.
Conditions won’t be like last week, though, so I expect Cleveland to have more success moving the ball.
If Cleveland’s defense can show up as they have since Week 13, the Browns could break some Commanders’ fans hearts on Sunday.
My Prediction: Browns 23, Commanders 13
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