Can the Browns be the first to take down the unbeaten Cardinals?
On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns take on the Arizona Cardinals in Week 6. Below, we analyze a few advantages, disadvantages, or general thoughts about the two teams before getting to our predictions for the game.
Overcoming the Laundry List of Injuries
- Injuries this week are playing a major role on offense, as the Browns will likely be without RB Nick Chubb, LT Jedrick Wills, and RT Jack Conklin.
- As crazy as it may sound, I don’t think that equates to the offense falling apart. RB Kareem Hunt isn’t going away, and this gives head coach Kevin Stefanski a chance to dig into utilizing either RB D’Ernest Johnson or RB/WR Demetric Felton a bit more. Also, Blake Hance and James Hudson held their own last week against a formiddable Chargers front. Cleveland gets a break not having to go up against Chandler Jones this week.
- On the same note, this has to be a week where Odell Beckham sees some considerable involvement. The Cardinals’ secondary is stout, but because their run defense is not, I expect them to give some of those one-on-one passing game opportunities as they bite up for the run.
Picking Up on Defense
- Despite all of the injuries on defense, there is hope that Cleveland will actually have their entire defense available to play. Could we see a return to form of how the unit played against the Bears and Vikings, as opposed to what the Chargers did?
- Remember that the Chargers rolled the dice a lot on fourth down last week and kept winning, improbably. You can’t expect most NFL franchises to roll the dice like that, and especially not one without their head coach today due to COVID-19.
- P Jamie Gillan is being put on notice. The Browns are trying out a punter on Tuesday, so this could be Gillian’s last game if he turns in another sub-par performance. It’s crazy how kicker has turned out to be the big strength among the unit.
- This is a short week for the Browns, as they host the Broncos on Thursday night. Are they saving players like Chubb and Jarvis Landry for that game? Or will they let players heal up for that mini bye week (like Wills)?
Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.
Chris Pokorny: “Even with adversity, it’s hard not to be confident about this Browns team. We need to see a game where the offense and defense put it together on the same day. I see fewer long-sustained drives today, but today is the day where the defense generates turnovers and the offense capitalizes on short fields.” Browns 27, Cardinals 20
Thomas Moore: “The Browns might be catching the Cardinals at a good time. Sure, Arizona is averaging 31.4 points per game, but Cleveland should have its full secondary back for the game. Sure, the Browns might be without starting offensive tackles Jedrick Wills Jr. and Jack Conklin, but the Cardinals will likely be without defensive end Chandler Jones and defensive end J.J. Watt is not the same player he once was. Sure, running back Nick Chubb is going to miss the game, but the Arizona run defense is among the league’s worst, so Kareem Hunt will do just fine in Chubb’s absence.
Cleveland needs to take care of business against the Cardinals and set themselves up for a nice run into what will be a critical home-and-home series against the Baltimore Ravens.” Browns 31, Cardinals 28
rufio: “I haven’t picked the Browns to lose over the past two seasons, and I’m not about to start now.
The Cardinals’ offense is threatening, with Kyler Murray wreaking havoc so far this year. He’s completing 75% of his passes, but he’s also thrown 4 picks so far, an INT on 2.4% of his dropbacks (good for 22nd in the NFL). But even with the turnovers, he is 4th in adjusted net yards per attempt, and 3rd in ESPN’s QBR. The Cards may be without DeAndre Hopkins–which is a big loss–but it isn’t like Christian Kirk, AJ Green, or rookie Rondale Moore are easy covers.
The bigger question mark for Arizona is Chandler Jones, their leading pass rusher who just hit the Covid list. If he can’t go, we should be able to play defense by playing offense. I’m betting we can hold the Cardinals to fewer than 47 points this time, and we should come out on top.” Browns 38, Cardinals 31
Ezweav: “Well that one last week was just special. Not really any one thing to pin it on (though certainly many have done so anyway) other than that’s a really good team that got pretty much every break available and took advantage of our (suddenly) completely depleted defensive unit. Oh well, dems the breaks.
Into town swaggers the undefeated Cardinals, who’ve been a powerhouse exactly never. Perhaps it’s their time, and all it took was the inimitable coaching stylings of KLIFF KINGSBURY to unlock the glory. Kyler Murray is the real deal though and will be tough to contain, but we should be able to at least hold him in check provided we have most of our regulars on the field.
Definitely wish we had Nick Chubb for this one, but we’ll still be able to run the ball effectively. More importantly than that is Baker will play well and generate enough offense to put us over the top. They’re a very good team, but I think we’re just a bit better.” Cardinals 23, Browns 22
Barry Shuck: “I really do not think the Browns have the defense to stay with Arizona. At first my thoughts were a 44-40 shootout, but now that Chubb is out I can’t really say that this offense will have the same punch without him. Yes, Hunt is a great runner and D’Ernest Johnson is more than a capable backup/fill-in. But neither player is Nick Chubb and neither can block in the backfield like the former Georgia star.
What do the stats say? Arizona is the fourth best passing offense and ninth passing. The Browns are the Number 1 rushing offense. Both teams are upper third in passing D. Cleveland is third against the run while the Cards are awful coming in at Number 28. This means the Cardinals will throw and the Browns will do what they do best and run. Or, try to. Will Conklin play? Wills? Both of these tackles are great run blockers. Cleveland’s best running back is out. Last year when Chubb was down Hunt did not bust out for any huge paydays. He was just average. Not having two starters out on the O-Line is a colossal disadvantage.
Arizona is lights out in the passing game. Is there any Browns’ fan who is enamored with any of our defensive backfield? Maybe the question this week should be: how many wide open Cardinals players will this game have? Last week that number was three in case you forgot.“
Cardinals 41, Browns 24
Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.