The season nearly, if not already, ended for the Cleveland Browns after last week’s devastating defeat in Denver.
Another loss, especially to one of the two current AFC wild card teams, would have been too much to overcome.
Their postseason chances are faint, but the Browns managed to stay in the hunt for at least another week.
It may not have been the offensive outbreak fans have hoped for, but the unit performed solidly against a good Buffalo’s defense. Cleveland committed just four penalties, two on each side of the ball, and didn’t turn the ball over.
Baker Mayfield was mostly accurate and decisive, finishing with two touchdown passes for the first time this season, as well as his shortest time to throw.
Nick Chubb had another great game, rushing for nearly 120 yards, the vast majority when sharing the field with Kareem Hunt. Fresh off an eight-game suspension, Hunt made a huge impact, lining up in multiple positions and helping out by catching and running the ball, in addition to excellent pass and run blocking. He played the part of a fullback extremely well, a look he should continue to get over the next seven games.
This will be important since the offensive line is very poor at run blocking, even worse now that Greg Robinson has regained his spot at left tackle and Wyatt Teller is starting at right guard. The line’s run blocking ability (or lack thereof) just makes Chubb’ 919 yards on 174 carries all the more impressive.
The defense was solid, getting pressure on Josh Allen even without Olivier Vernon. Myles Garrett didn’t finish with a sack, but his presence was felt regardless, as he missed out on two forced fumbles by a matter of milliseconds.
In favor of execution
Over their past two games, the Browns have nine penalties and zero turnovers. They aren’t the leader in penalties committed anymore. Two games is too small of a sample size to prove that they are past those issues, but things could be different if they are able to keep this streak going Thursday night.
That’s when Cleveland entertains the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers, at 5-4 in possession of the second AFC wild card spot, despite having started Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges at quarterback. Their defense has been fantastic since the addition of ballhawk safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, so the Browns will have their work cut out for them on this short week.
If everything else goes correctly, the Browns could still make the playoffs with one more loss. But it would make things incredibly difficult, and that loss cannot come against the Steelers. From here on out, Cleveland will be playing for its season every single game, which should make this week’s Thursday Night Football match-up one of the best of 2019.
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