Green Bay Packers vs. Cleveland Browns: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange
Josh Gordon and the Cleveland Browns host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Josh Gordon and the Cleveland Browns host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo




KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FirstEnergy Stadium. TV: FOX, Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Jennifer Hale (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 19th regular-season meeting. Packers lead series, 11-7. The Browns and Packers have met only once in the playoffs. The Packers beat the Browns 23-12 for the NFL championship in 1965. It turned out to be the last game of Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown's career.

KEYS TO THE GAME: It's clear that Green Bay's offensive strength minus quarterback Aaron Rodgers is running the football. Rookie Jamaal Williams has 303 rushing yards and three touchdowns in his last four games. He brings LeGarrette Blount power to the position.

Fellow rookie Aaron Jones, who returned last week from a knee injury, has more explosiveness and big-play ability. Together, they give the Packers a "Thunder and Lightning" combination.


On the Green Bay defensive side, all eyes will be on cornerback Davon House going against Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon.

Last week, House held Tampa Bay standout Mike Evans to two catches for 33 yards. In his first game in three years, Gordon caught four passes for 85 yards. House most likely will draw Gordon, and the matchup could go a long way in determining the outcome of the game.

The return of Gordon gives the Browns three legitimate deep targets for quarterback DeShone Kizer: On one side is Gordon, on the other is Corey Coleman and somewhere in between is tight end David Njoku.

If the offensive line can give Kizer decent protection, the Browns' vertical game should thrive.

The Packers won't be able to put a safety in the box without risking being beaten on a deep route. That should open lanes for running backs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson.

Johnson should be able to get between 12 and 15 touches and, if the Browns can control the ball, they might be able to pull off the upset.



--Browns QB DeShone Kizer vs. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers. The Browns' rookie quarterback is the NFL's 35th and last-ranked quarterback, with a passer rating of 58.1. Capers, a former head coach and a defensive coordinator for 16 seasons, has one of the more creative minds in football. He will devise a variety of blitz packages and new looks to confuse Kizer. Whether Kizer can handle the majority of what Capers throws at him will go a long way in determining whether Cleveland can notch its first win of the season.

--Packers WR Davante Adams vs. Browns CB Jason McCourty. McCourty is the Browns' best cornerback and usually draws the assignment of covering the opponent's best wide receiver. Adams is a touchdown threat every time the Packers cross midfield. He has a team-high seven touchdown catches and leads the Packers with 59 catches for 744 yards.



--Out: CB Demetri Goodson (hamstring)

--Doubtful: CB Davon House (shoulder)

--Questionable: DT Quinton Dial (chest, knee), G Lucas Patrick (hand), LB Nick Perry (foot, shoulder)



--Doubtful: S Jabrill Peppers (knee)

--Questionable: CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee), WR Sammie Coates (knee, ankle), TE Seth DeValve (hip), DE Tyrone Holmes (knee), DT Danny Shelton (chest, ribs)

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Browns LB James Burgess. Burgess has replaced injured Jamie Collins (knee, injured reserve) more than adequately the last four weeks. The Packers might try to run in his direction; but, if they do, they will learn the film does not lie. He is a sure tackler and now ranks fourth on the team with 45 tackles despite only five starts.

FAST FACTS: Green Bay QB Brett Hundley has 457 passing yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in the past two games on the road. He had a career-high 66 rushing yards last week. ... RB Aaron Jones had the game-winning touchdown last week, a 20-yard scamper in overtime. He has four rushing touchdowns, tied for second among NFC rookies. ... Fellow rookie RB Jamaal Williams rushed for 113 yards and a score last week, his first career 100-yard game. He has two straight games with a touchdown. ... WR Jordy Nelson had a touchdown last time he played the Browns. And he has six touchdowns in his past seven games against the AFC. ... LB Clay Matthews had 2.5 sacks last week. He has two straight games with a sack. ... LB Blake Martinez ranks fourth in NFL with a career-high 109 tackles. He has 26 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery in his last two games. ... Cleveland QB DeShone Kizer has two straight game against the NFC with a rushing touchdown. He is one of five quarterbacks with more than 2,000 passing yards and 300 rushing yards. ... RB Duke Johnson Jr. has a touchdown in three of his last five home games. He is the only running back with more than 50 catches in each of the past three seasons. ... WR Josh Gordon had a team-high 85 receiving yards last week. ... Rookie TE David Njoku caught a touchdown pass last week and is tied for second among rookie tight ends with four receiving scores. ... LB Joe Schobert leads the AFC with 111 tackles. He had team-high 12 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble last week. ... LB Christian Kirksey is tied for second in the AFC with 101 tackles. He has a sack in two of the last four games. ... Rookie DE Myles Garrett has three sacks in his last three home games.


PREDICTION: When the Browns' offense plays well, the defense struggles. When the defense plays well, the offense struggles. Expect the defense to struggle with a solid Packers running game. Brett Hundley will do just enough to keep the Browns winless.

OUR PICK: Packers, 23-20.

--Dennis Rudner

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