Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans Playoff Matchups 1/11/24: Browns Defense vs. Texans Offense

January 10, 2024

Andy Billman Tony Camino

Browns #1 Defense vs. Texans Hot Offense

Andy – 

The one excellent advantage for the Browns in this matchup against CJ Stroud is that Stroud is not a running quarterback.  It is a massive help for the Cleveland defense as Stroud has barely run for over 150 yards this season.  This will allow the defensive line Myles Garrett, Za’Darius Smith, and others to press Stroud in passing situations.  Houston does give up sacks, so that, along with the Texans not having a strong running game, gives the Browns the edge on paper.  

Stroud, being a rookie is also not easy for Houston in a playoff game.

The Browns must not allow the Texans to get the big plays in the air.  The additional week will help give rest to the lockdown cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Martin Emerson, who will handle one-on-one coverage throughout. The rest will help.  

The more I have thought about this matchup, the more I like what the Browns’ defense can do in this game, even with the hot-handed Stroud.  

Tony – 

The Browns’ defense has been their strength all year, and they will look to add another dominant week to propel the team to the Divisional Round. Thanks to the emergence of C.J. Stroud, Houston does have the 14th-ranked passing offense in DVOA, but they rank 30th in running the ball. Devin Singletary has been the featured back of late, but Houston ranks 25th in run block win rate and the top 10 for yards before contact allowed. Thanks to strong tackle play, they are 10th in pass block win rate, which is crucial as Stroud takes a significant amount of time to throw on average.

Although they are a good pass-blocking team, they allow the sixth-highest pressure rate due to the extended time Stroud takes to throw. If the Texans plan to stick with their offensive identity, the Browns will have plenty of chances to pressure the quarterback and make Stroud’s life difficult. Houston has not gained much from their run game all year, and the Browns need to shut it down quickly to force them into obvious passing situations. The Browns have the edge, as they should be able to pressure the quarterback and provide lockdown coverage on the backend.

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