Browns vs. 49ers Game Preview | Sunday 1:00 PM 10/15/23

October 13, 2023

Andy Billman Tony Camino

Week 6 Game Breakdown and Picks

1 – Watson out, Walker starts

QB Deshaun Watson is out for Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury, and in his place is veteran PJ Walker, who the Browns just recently acquired.  Walker has a record of 4-3 and will need help with the passing game.  Look for WR Amari Cooper as an open target to help Walker settle into the game.

Also, Walker must get the ball out quickly with 49er DE Nick Bosa lurking, as the Browns will be down all-pro LG Joel Bitonio.

2 – Running game

Time for RB Jerome Ford to step up with Watson and Nick Chubb out.  Ford needs to perform at a high level on Sunday for the Browns to win, and hopefully, he can find a few big carries to help the offense.  The Browns offense line will also need RG Wyatt Teller to pancake a few.  RT Dawand Jones will need to step up his game, as he has been good in the passing game but has struggled with run blocking. 

3 – Dominant defense on three

If there were ever a time for the Browns defense led by Jim Schwartz to carry the day, this would be it.  Everybody is praising QB Brock Purdy and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan for their explosive offense; rightly so; the 49ers are playing so well.   Time for Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith to flex their muscles, put pressure on the 49ers, and slow down the running game so the Browns defense can get off the field.


Everybody loves the 49ers in this game including Vegas who now has the line at -9.5. The Browns need to show some Cleveland pride and frankly so does Head Coach Kevin Stefanski.  Time to go all out and try to figure out a way to win this game when it seems all is against you.

I hate picking against Cleveland, but the Browns don’t win. My advice, if you love to gamble, is to stay away from this game, this is a trap game for San Francisco.   Take the +9.5, 49ers win 20-13.

Browns Notes

The Browns have had a rocky 2-2 start to the season, struggling to find consistency and string together consecutive wins. Their last outing against the Ravens resulted in a 25-point defeat, and they’re determined to bounce back from that performance. Fortunately, they have the advantage of playing at home for the third consecutive game after a bye week. Historically, their home field has been a significant asset, but they’ll need more than just home advantage to secure a victory.

Their upcoming schedule includes several winnable games, and a surprise win in this one could position them well in the NFC North as November approaches. Winning this game will be a challenge, but it could provide the momentum and confidence the franchise has been missing for a few years.

However, the Browns are facing significant injury concerns this weekend, with 13 players on the injury list, 10 of whom are either out or doubtful. The absence of Deshaun Watson, who is out due to a shoulder injury, will have a major impact on the team. Furthermore, Nick Chubb’s absence due to a knee injury has already altered the offensive dynamics. The status of Myles Garrett, who is questionable with a foot injury, is crucial for the Browns’ competitiveness in this matchup.

While the offense has its share of questions, there’s no doubt they will emphasize running the ball. They currently rank fifth in the league in rushing, and Jerome Ford will play a pivotal role. To succeed, they must control the clock and rely on their defense, which leads the league in yardage and every passing category. Garrett’s potential absence could significantly impact their defensive performance, and the absence of a clear leader to fill his role raises ongoing concerns.

49ers Notes

San Francisco is enjoying a remarkable start to the NFL season and is eager to extend their winning streak to 6-0 with a road victory. Despite a string of three consecutive home games, venturing away from their home turf presents a new challenge after a relatively comfortable month. While their schedule hasn’t featured the toughest opponents, a dominant 42-10 victory over Dallas last weekend demonstrated their strong intentions. The 49ers stand out as one of the NFL’s most well-rounded teams, showcasing talent on both sides of the field and benefiting from the experience within their coaching staff. Although traveling to Cleveland is demanding, this team possesses the depth to overcome any challenges.

A significant part of San Francisco’s success can be attributed to its ability to maintain team-wide health. They have six players listed on the injury report, with five already ruled out. Elijah Mitchell’s status (questionable due to a knee injury) could provide valuable depth, but his absence is unlikely to drastically alter the outcome of this game.

While historically known for their strong defense, the 49ers have bolstered their offensive arsenal and are now considered one of the league’s top offenses. They rank third in the NFL in yards gained per game and third in rushing. Despite having the fewest pass attempts in the league, they have managed to secure an eighth-place ranking in passing. Their offense faces a stern test in this matchup, particularly their offensive line, which needs to hold firm. Brock Purdy, with his remarkable 9 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, has excelled in ball security, but Christian McCaffrey’s versatility can influence the outcome. McCaffrey’s multi-faceted abilities in the backfield contribute to the team’s overall balance, and when combined with the talents of Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, Purdy has an array of options at his disposal. Moreover, their formidable top-five defense, spearheaded by the exceptional linebacker duo of Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, should alleviate the pressure on the offense and enable them to find success.

Best bets for Browns 49ers Week 6

The Deshaun Watson injury before the bye week really ruined our picks for the Ravens game, as both picks were submitted before anyone thought he might not play. Watson remains out on Sunday, but I still found two picks that should be smart plays for Sunday’s matchup. With poor weather expected, this one could be a low-scoring slugfest we’ve seen on the lake too many times. Here are two picks for Browns versus 49ers in Week 6.

David Njoku Over 2.5 Receptions

David Njoku is demonstrating remarkable resilience, playing his second straight game after suffering severe burns to his face. In the last game against the Ravens, he showcased himself as a reliable target for Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and I anticipate him continuing to play a significant role with P.J. Walker at the helm. Njoku has exceeded this line in three out of the four games this year and in 71% of the games in 2022.

Over the last three games, Njoku has consistently recorded four or more catches, and he has been targeted four or more times in each of these games. Even when paired with Watson, Njoku managed to produce with limited targets. Notably, he was targeted seven times in the previous week with rookie DTR at quarterback, and I expect a similar approach this week. Kevin Stefanski is likely to seek out easy, short completions, and Njoku should have plenty of opportunities to make an impact and cover this performance benchmark.

P.J. Walker Under 30.5 Longest Pass Completion

P.J. Walker will take the reins on Sunday to help steady the ship in the absence of Watson. With seven career starts and appearances in 15 games, he brings more experience to the table than DTR. However, facing the formidable 49ers, who boast Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead on their front lines, presents a challenge that could impact both phases of the game.

In his last 10 games, Walker has only met or exceeded this line twice, and those games were played in favorable weather conditions in Carolina and in the climate-controlled dome in Atlanta. The upcoming weather forecast predicts cloudy and windy conditions, with a chance of rain. Given these conditions and the strong pass rush of the 49ers, it’s likely that the Browns will rely more on a short to intermediate passing game to succeed. Deep shots may not be a prominent feature in this matchup, and it may not be an ideal game for quarterbacks on either side, making this a solid play.


The AFC playoff race is currently wide open, with no teams establishing themselves as unstoppable and pulling away from the competition. While a win isn’t an absolute necessity at this point, securing a victory in this game could provide the Browns with a valuable edge over their rivals. To achieve this, the offense must maintain a consistent rhythm, making first downs to improve field position. Meanwhile, the defense needs to perform at its best if the Browns hope to secure a win.

Admittedly, it won’t be an easy task, but the NFL is known for its unpredictability, and unexpected outcomes are not uncommon. Maybe today will be the day the Browns’ defense scores and changes the trajectory of the game.

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