“Been More Patient Than A Browns Fan”

Intriguing Game- Week Three

Los Angeles Rams at Cleveland Browns

Rams: That game against the Saints wasn’t just a win, I felt it was a statement as well. I think people tend to forget that these Los Angeles Rams are the defending NFC Champions. Things maybe different now in the conference because of the injury to Drew Brees, but that didn’t stop them on Sunday in week two. They were locked in from the get-go. I saw a complete effort all around from a balanced attack on the offensive side, they fed Todd Gurley of course, they spread the ball around to the open guy and defensively even prior to Drew’s injury, they were keeping an excellent New Orleans offense in check and ended up holding them to just nine points. Early in the year, everyone is beginning to see the difference that Cooper Kupp is making for this team. First, he’s picking up where he left off from last season which I wasn’t expecting because he is coming off a torn ACL and you just never know how guys respond to that injury the following year after it’s healed but according to reports during training camp, he looked quicker and faster than ever and I saw that on his long touchdown reception. Secondly, Jared Goff looks much more comfortable now than he did after Cooper got injured. Having your safety valve as a quarterback is always a good thing because you always know where to find them on the field. Lastly, he’s the piece that makes the Rams offense flow. Things were halted after he went down with his injury. Again, one player can make all the difference. Here’s the thing about the Rams offense: Their identity is simple to identify, difficult to stop and even harder to duplicate. When defenses bottle up Gurley, they just turn to the play-action aspect and the passing game. Their defense is still handling business. Clay Matthews is looking like a rejuvenated version of himself then he has the last few years as a Green Bay Packer. They have a nice primetime tilt with a team everyone is still trying to figure out.

Browns: So, I will say this about them. They were humbled in week one against the Tennessee Titans. They were way too overconfident and that came back to bite them in the you know what. First, give credit to Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel and defensive coordinator Dean Pees in that game because they knew Baker Mayfield was going to want to throw the ball 15-20 yards down the field, so what do they do? Sit back in a zone coverage and force three turnovers. I think that was a game they needed and used it as a wake-up call along with motivation. I really like Baker Mayfield and I think he’ll be good for years to come, but at this moment right now, I feel he’s pressing because he’s forcing the football into spots which ends up resulting in two things either an incompletion or an interception. But he’s young, so it’s understandable right now why this is happening. When I watch Baker play, I’m reminded of Brett Favre. Just like the Hall of Famer, I see a guy that loves the theatrics and plays with the gunslinger mentality. He wants to fire the ball into his receiver. I know the Browns made quite the move when they acquired Odell Beckham in the off-season, but there was a lot of hype surrounding their defense which is understandable because they have playmakers starting with Myles Garrett of course, then you have other pieces such as Sheldon Richardson, Olivier Vernon, Christian Kirksey, Denzel Ward and one of my favorite players from the 2015 NFL Draft in Damarious Randall. I remember saying before the season started until their offense really got it clicking, the defense would have to carry the team in the beginning. They’ve struggled themselves. They’ve given up 23 points a game so far, this early on, but they will get better. With hype comes the pressure and there’s a lot of it of them. The Browns will get set for their second primetime game when they welcome the Los Angeles Rams to town.

Rams Player to Watch: Cory Littleton– He’s been huge for them early in the season. He leads the team in tackles so far. With Aaron Donald commanding so much attention in double teams, he usually has easy access to the quarterback more often than you think. That’s what happens when you’re around a great player, you get more opportunities.

Browns Player to Watch: Denzel Ward– I enjoyed watching him at Ohio State and I think he can be a great corner at this level. He’s destined to be one of the best. I’ve seen him get a few interceptions because he was always in the right place at the right time. He covers a lot of ground; he can go step for step with several receivers and he has great closing speed to make tackles on the run in the open field.

Final Analysis: This is the first time that Sunday Night Football is in Cleveland since 2008. It’s been a while. I can say this is one of the biggest games for the Browns in recent memory. It’s under the lights, you’re the only game that’s on during this time slot and the defending NFC champions just happen to be in town. This is also the first matchup between Jared Goff and Baker Mayfield. I’m watching the Cleveland pass rush. They will be a huge force in this game. They need to get the push up front to make Goff uncomfortable. He doesn’t like to leave the pocket much, so I’d be flushing him out his comfort zone. This Rams defense is still one of the best in the business which has more than enough depth to slow down any opposing offense. They’ll play these Cleveland receivers tight at the line and make the Browns throw the football underneath. The Rams are ninth in the league with 18.0 points and eighth with 293.5 total yards allowed per game.

Prediction: Rams 35 Browns 24