It took one surprise win (and a subsequent social media roasting) for me to keep the door slightly cracked open for the Browns in 2022.
Call this space Believeland, if you must. Two weeks after the Browns had their worst showing of the season in a loss to New England, they scored an unexpectedly dominant win over the Bengals, whom they’ve owned since Joe Burrow was drafted. Against Miami, however, we have much less recent history to examine.
The last time these two teams faced off — Week 12 of the 2019 season — Baker Mayfield was the Browns’ quarterback, Freddie Kitchens was head coach, Odell Beckham Jr. was catching passes and Jarvis Landry was exacting his revenge on his former team, complete with a dog impression. It’s been a while.
The revamped Dolphins are on a roll, winning three straight. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa owns a 6-0 record in games he has started and finished this season. The NFL’s passer rating leader broke 300 yards through the air once again in Miami’s Week 9 win over Chicago, and the Dolphins aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.
Chalk this up as a loss for the Browns, right? Well, not quite.
Miami allowed 252 rushing yards to Chicago. Sure, Justin Fields accounted for 178 of that total, and Jacoby Brissett is not Fields. But Cleveland does have Nick Chubb, who leads the league in rushing touchdowns (10) and ranks second in rushing yards (841).
Cleveland can win this game by controlling it on the ground and avoiding offensive mistakes. Most importantly, though, the Browns’ defense must limit the high-flying Dolphins’ aerial attack.
A month ago, the Browns were in shambles defensively, but Cleveland has turned things around in recent weeks, largely containing Lamar Jackson’s Ravens and shutting down Burrow and the Bengals. Like last season, defensive coordinator Joe Woods might be getting this group together at just the right time. Their true test comes Sunday in Miami Gardens.
Image & Story Credit: nfl.com