Winning-record Browns roll into week four


photo via National Football League

          2-1. No, this year 2-1 is not the buy-one-get-one ratio of the Browns gear on the clearance shelf, but instead the first winning record that the Cleveland Browns have held since 2014! For the first time in a long time, FirstEnergy Stadium is a place where winners play football, at least for the time being. 

Last week, the Browns secured a two-touchdown win over the still nameless Washington Football Team. Though the Browns grabbed the margin in the first half, the lingering feeling remained throughout the game that the Browns might let it slip away. However, former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins handed over the game to the Browns on a silver platter, throwing three interceptions and fumbling which accounted for four of Washington’s five turnovers.

           Last week, the Browns offense did only one notable thing. Baker Mayfield, in fact, did something extraordinary for a Browns quarterback. He threw no interceptions. Mayfield threw for 156 yards and two touchdowns against a Washington defense that is at best average when healthy. 

Further, running back Nick Chubb helped the Browns capitalize on consistently good field position with 108 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Kareem Hunt also contributed this week earning another receiving touchdown from the backfield, adding to a stellar season for the running back tandem.

          Despite the great win, the Browns will be challenged next week against the talented Dallas Cowboys. Though, they only have a 1-2 record to show for it, the Cowboys can compete with anyone in the league. To succeed against the Cowboys this week and maintain a winning record the Browns will have to play their best game thus far. 

Here are their major keys this week:

  • Offensive line must step up

Last week, a consistent and ruthless pass rush kept Russell Wilson from an even larger blowout score. Wilson, sacked four times and hit 20 additional times, played under duress the whole game. The Browns cannot let Baker Mayfield suffer this same fate. The offensive line must stay consistent and protect Mayfield at all costs.

  • Defensive secondary must hold strong

Despite the Browns still battling multiple preseason injuries, this week poses an excellent challenge for head coach Kevin Stefanski and defensive coordinator Joe Woods. Recent struggles have not done enough to prevent the wins, which is notable on its own. However, the Cowboys will kick it up a notch this week. Cowboys’ quarterback (and likely my team’s fantasy football starter this week) Dak Prescott has passed for over 400 yards in the past two weeks. The Browns cannot survive a similar passing onslaught this week.

  • Big day from Baker

Baker Mayfield has an opportunity to etch a breakout game this weekend. Last week, the Cowboy’s defense showed that they are young and vulnerable to passing attacks. Russell Wilson was repeatedly able to exploit defensive lapses to score multiple touchdowns. Now I am not saying that Baker Mayfield is of the same caliber as future Hall of Famer Russell Wilson, but the Cowboys are prone to mistakes. With talented receivers in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., Mayfield has the tools needed.

My Take: Toss-Up

The Browns have a unique opportunity this week. With the way the NFL schedules games, teams who are perennially unsuccessful like the Browns often don’t see the Cowboys this early. However, the Browns and Cowboys boast both youth and talent. Playoff statement game. Yes. Toss up game? Also yes.

Ultimately, it comes down to the Cowboy’s defense. If Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy can clean up the defensive lapses, the Cowboys will roll. 

However, if the Cowboy’s secondary struggles, Browns’s fans might plan a parade. As the Browns approach difficult games against their AFC North rivals Pittsburgh Steelers and a rematch against the Cincinnati Bengals, momentum from this week can perhaps be a difference maker.