CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – The Browns return home to welcome a well-rested Tom Brady and Buccaneers team in what is expected to be Jacoby Brissett’s final start with Deshaun Watson debuting next week.
Brady and Brissett were teammates with the Patriots in 2016 when the Browns’ backup was a rookie.
Cleveland has lost six of seven and come in 3-7 while the 5-5 Buccaneers are atop the NFC South and are currently the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoff race.
What to watch for – Brissett has exceeded expectations filling in for Watson while the rest of the team has underachieved. Brissett is completing a career-high 64.4% of his passes for 2,398 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions to date and he believes he’s proven he can be a full-time starter in the NFL. Brissett is coming off his best game of the season that saw him throw for 324 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-23 loss to the Bills at Ford Field in Detroit.
Once he does retire, Brady will go down as the greatest to ever do it. He has a trio of explosive receivers in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones, who have a combined 108 combined for 1,324 yards and six touchdowns.
Mother Nature plans to rain on Brady’s last visit to Cleveland. Thunderstorms in the morning followed by steady rain throughout the day is expected.
Brady is one of the least sacked quarterbacks in the NFL, which doesn’t bode well for Cleveland’s sputtering and ineffective defensive front. While Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has registered at least a sack in five of the last six games, he’s failed to make many game-changing plays this season and Jadeveon Clowney has been slowed by an ankle injury.
Injuries up front have made for some tough sledding the last two weeks for Nick Chubb, who has been held to just 82 yards combined and just 19 yards last week by Buffalo. Right guard Wyatt Teller is playing through calf injury, Hjalte Froholdt has been pressed into service at center after Ethan Piocic went on IR this week following a knee injury on the first snap against Buffalo. Right tackle jack Conklin is also less than 100% as he plays through a foot injury.
Tampa Bay ruled running back Leonard Fournette out with a hip injury meaning rookie Rachaad White likely will start. White is coming off a 105-yard rushing performance in Week 10. The Buccaneers also elevated former Bengals running back Giovani Bernard was activated off injured reserve for the game. The Browns defense has surrendered at least 150 yards rushing in five of the last seven games – all losses.
Last week – Buccaneers had a bye; Browns lost to the Bills 30-23
Last Time – October 21, 2018: Buccaneers 26, Browns 23 F-OT
Series – Browns lead 6-4
Rankings – Points: Buccaneers 27 (18.3), Browns 10 (24.0)
Yards: Buccaneers 17 (340.5), Browns 4 (377.9)
Rushing: Buccaneers 32 (70.7), Browns 5 (150.9)
Passing: Buccaneers 5 (269.8), Browns 14 (227.0)
Points allowed: Buccaneers 6 (18.0), Browns T-30 (26.9)
Yards allowed: Buccaneers 7 (310.0), Browns 20 (349.9)
Rushing yards allowed: Buccaneers 14 (116.6), Browns 23 (135.1)
Passing yards allowed: Buccaneers 6 (194.3), Browns 16 (214.8)
Turnover ratio: Buccaneers T-8 (+1), Browns 29 (-6)
Projected starters for Browns – Offense: WR Amari Cooper, LT Jedrick Wills Jr., LG Joel Bitonio, C Hjalte Froholdt, RG Wyatt Teller, RT Jack Conklin, TE Harrison Bryant, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, QB Jacoby Brissett, RB Nick Chubb, TE David Njoku
Defense: DE Myles Garrett, DT Jordan Elliott, DT Taven Bryan, DE Jadeveon Clowney, SAM Sione Takitaki, MIKE Deion Jones, WILL Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, CB Greedy Williams, CB A.J. Green, SS Grant Delpit, FS John Johnson III
Injury report – OUT: Greg Newsome II (concussion); EXPECTED TO PLAY: CB Denzel Ward (groin), S David Bell (concussion), C Hjalte Froholdt (illness), S Ronnie Harrison (illness), TE David Njoku (ankle/knee), LG Joel Bitonio (illness/rest), DE Jadeveon Clowney (rest), DE Myles Garrett (rest),WR Amari Cooper (rest), RG Wyatt Teller (calf), DT Perrion Winfrey (concussion), LT Jedrick Wills (knee), RT Jack Conklin (foot)
Uniforms – Color rush brown jerseys and pants with orange lettering.
Broadcast – Radio: 92.3 The Fan, 98.5 WNCX and the University Hospitals Cleveland Browns radio network. TV: WJW-TV 8 (FOX)
Kickoff – 1:05 p.m. FirstEnergy Stadium – Cleveland, Ohio
Prediction – Buccaneers 25, Browns 19
Our record – 5-5