Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans Playoff Matchups 1/10/24: Browns Offense vs. Texans Defense

January 10, 2024

Andy Billman Tony Camino

Can the Browns Just Score Enough and Rely on the Defense?

Tony –

The Browns’ offense has struggled to be consistent all year, but the recent emergence of Joe Flacco has given them just enough in the passing game. A few weeks ago, the Browns dominated this matchup, with Amari Cooper having a career day, going for 265 yards. Houston was without top edge rusher Will Anderson, and his presence will make things harder for the Browns up front.

Overall, the Texans’ defense is strong, specifically against the run, where they rank second in DVOA and second in run stuff win rate. Outside of Derek Stingley, the secondary is a weakness, and the Browns will have success in the air if they can protect upfront. They will need to establish some sort of run game, which will be challenging against Houston. If the Browns can have any presence in the run game, they won’t have any issues moving the ball.

Most importantly, the defense is going to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, as has been the case for most of the year. They have to put drives together to win field position and limit turnovers that give the Texans short fields to work with. The passing game should be there as long as they can protect, and running the ball with any success and limiting turnovers will be the key to a win.

Andy –

Houston does well against the run, and they are not as strong against the pass, so expect Cleveland to throw early and often.

The Cleveland offense will rely on Flacco’s arm and ability to get the ball to Cooper, Moore, Njoku, and others.  That being said, can the Brown’s offensive line keep Flacco upright?  The good news is that Flacco does a great job of getting the ball out before he gets hit.  He is one of the best that I have ever seen.  The tackles are going to be challenged in this game, and as Tony mentioned above, watch out for Will Anderson.  He is going to be a handful on Saturday, the tackles must be able to slow him down.  If the Browns can protect Flacco, the Browns will be able to strike for big yards as the Texans give up big plays through the air. 

The Cleveland running game is going to be challenged as they have failed to establish a run game in the past eight contests.  The Browns are also facing a banged-up backfield as both Kareem Hunt and Pierre Strong are on the injury report heading into the game.  Ford is going to be asked to do a lot, the Browns should be thinking about bringing someone on the roster who can help the running back room. 

If Flacco continues to play at an elite level, the Browns should be in good shape, if not, gulp.

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