This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns take on the Seattle Seahawks in Week 8. Below, we analyze a few advantages, disadvantages, and general thoughts about the two teams before getting to our predictions for the game.
Bracing Ourselves for a Letdown?
- The Browns are 4-2 and are on a two-game winning streak for the first time this season, basically having done so with P.J. Walker at quarterback. The victories came against the previously-undefeated San Francisco 49ers, and a tough Indianapolis Colts team on the road. Despite that, there seems to be a sense of fans bracing themselves for a loss this week.
- When you look at who the DBN staff picked, it’s almost all Seahawks. However, in that same article, you can see that three of the four national media members are still taking the Browns. Heck, even our Seahawks affiliate, who didn’t specify a win/loss, at least thinks that Cleveland will cover in this game.
- Why are we so pessimistic? This is a game that could play to many of the Browns’ strengths. Seattle’s offensive line is pretty young and inexperienced, and although they have not been a train wreck, they do give up a lot of pressures that Geno Smith has to dodge. Additionally, Seattle has been poor at converting in the red zone, and their defense has had difficulty in stopping teams on third down. Three of Seattle’s wins have come against the worst teams in football (Carolina, NYG, Arizona), so it’s tough to tell how legitimate they are.
- I go back, then, to asking, why the pessimism? I think it just goes back to the team being stuck with P.J. Walker as our quarterback. Walker has delivered some end-of-half drives out of no where over the past two games, but besides that, it hasn’t been pretty for he or the offense. The receivers aren’t getting the ball regularly, there isn’t enough arm strength to push the ball down the field, and teams are taking chances to stuff the run, which often puts the offense in 3rd-and-long situations. The Browns have won the last two weeks, but it took a combination of missed field goals, some wtf penalty calls that went in Cleveland’s favor, Dustin Hopkins going God-mode for two weeks in a row, and even with all of that, the Browns still needed all four downs from the 1 yard line last week to get the game-winning touchdown. Playing on the road, against a quality team, I think fans are thinking, “Ok, our defense is still great, but one of these weeks, Walker under center is leading to a loss.”
On the Bright Side of Things...
- Aside from quarterback, the Browns have some positives to think about this week. Defensively, they escaped the serious injury bug, as Denzel Ward is fine and will play, and the team might be getting Sione Takitaki back after missing last week. To a degree, it’s not bad when the defense gets humbled at times by the likes of the Ravens and the Colts, because. It creates teaching points for the defense, but the one thing it will not do is let them stop their aggressive and badassery mentality, as Jim Schwartz put it. On the teachable moments, though, we can look at the two plays when Myles Garrett stood still after jumping offsides last week:
Jim Schwartz said the message on offsides plays is not to jump back, rather to just keep going and stop the play.— Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) October 26, 2023
Said it cost them when Myles Garrett tried to jump back and the defense stopped as the play continued. #Browns
- On the offensive side of the ball, the running back situation will be the biggest thing to watch this week. We thought Jerome Ford would be out this week, as Cleveland added three running backs to the practice squad with Kareem Hunt also banged up. But then Ford practiced on Friday, and Hunt practiced on Thursday. Will both backs be ready-to-go?
- The offense has to find a way to stop the big negative plays on running downs. Last week, Ford had runs of -4, -3, and -6 yards (to be fair, that last one was the pitch that he missed the catch on). Pierre Strong had runs that went for -1, -3, and -3 yards. Granted, runs will fail for losses at times, but often with Cleveland, those negative runs come on second down. That means the team goes from trying to create a 3rd-and-3 type of situation, to being stuck in a 3rd-and-11.
- The Seahawks are 2nd in the NFL in run defense, allowing 87.2 rushing yards per game. In the red zone, they allow touchdowns 82% of the time, and they seem to allow the short passing game to have some success. It’ll be interesting to see what type of offensive gameplan Kevin Stefanski comes up with for this one. Maybe we’ll see him try to sling it with Walker, within his limitations.
- Dustin Hopkins has been the Special Teams Player of the Week for the AFC for two straight weeks, hitting 50+ yard field goals with ease. You can’t count on a guy to always be money, but the addition of Hopkins could legitimately be the difference between the team being 4-2 right now vs. possible being 2-4 or 1-5, which is pretty crazy to think about. Or maybe it’s just been so long since we’ve had a reliable kicker that I am over-rated his contribution, which might be the norm for other teams.
- According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Browns are 3.5 point underdogs against the Seahawks.
Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.
Chris Pokorny: “I want to talk myself into a Browns win, but I think the offensive struggles come back to bite Cleveland this week.” Seahawks 23, Browns 17
Thomas Moore: “It is not going to be easy for the Browns on Sunday against the Seahawks. The offense can’t find the end zone with P.J. Walker at quarterback (three touchdowns in 25 offensive drives) and as much fun as Dustin Hopkins has been, living on 50-yard-plus field goals is not good for anyone’s health. The defense had some issues last week against the Colts but still carried enough of the water for the Browns to win. The situation should be the same on Sunday. The Seahawks are nothing special on offense (but neither were the Colts) so if Walker can eliminate the turnovers and the defense plays the way it can, Cleveland can pick up its third consecutive victory. Expect the stress level to be high again for everyone involved, but the Browns will find a way to pull this one out.” Browns 13, Seahawks 10.
Barry Shuck: “Seattle has the 12th man (which by the way they lease from Texas A&M) whereas the Browns have their own 12th men who wears zebra stripes in that last game. Hopefully, Deshaun Watson will play because CLE is the worst-ranked passing attack in the league. All this receiving talent and can’t get the ball to them, eh? What was supposed to be this new “Air Raid” offense is now the “Air Masquerade” attack instead. Browns can still run the ball and will need Kareem Hunt to show why this front office chose him instead of the other options they had when Nick Chubb went to IR.
Defense is still kicking ass although allowing the Colts to score almost 40 was concerning. Myles Garrett for President! Browns have allowed the fewest passing yards thanks to a really good safety group who doesn’t get near the recognition they should. The 4-2-0 Seahawks are good against the pass as well and this is where I think the game will be won. Cleveland is bad at making first downs on key third-down plays and will have a drawer full that are of long distance where they are just horrible at conversion. Like Cleveland, this is a roster that doesn’t know if they are good or not yet.” Seahawks 27, Browns 19
Jared Mueller: “Keeping it simple this week, I don’t think the Seahawks are that good and I think the Browns just have too much drama surrounding them as a road team on the West Coast. The thing that seems most certain is that you should bet the under this week. After that, which defense can make a big play and which QB can avoid the big mistake? I’ll take that team and, for this week, that team is Seattle.” Seahawks 20, Browns 16
Curtiss Brown: “As someone who is a fan of both teams (to be honest I support both teams so don’t judge me there are others who have two teams to root), this game has me conflicted. It’s such a shame that this game wasn’t flexed to Sunday night because this is a big game. Cleveland is 4-2 but you couldn’t tell by the way everyone is acting. It’s mentally exhausting dealing with the negative energy but it’s Cleveland the team could be undefeated and people would find ways to complain. Quarterback PJ Walker will start after Watson was ruled out due to his shoulder bothering him, if Watson played I don’t think he would finish the game against Seattle. Cleveland’s offense is more inconsistent than bad, one drive they score then the next drive the punt team is coming out. Seattle’s defense (like Cleveland’s) is improved this season but it’s not near Cleveland’s level. But this defense is a lot better than what people think. Safety Jamal Adams looks healthy and he’s making an impact, outside linebacker Boye Mafe is ascending and cornerback Devon Witherspoon is making his case for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Linebackers Jordyn Brooks and Bobby Wagner are playing exceptional and the defense has a different vibe to them. If Cleveland wants to leave with a dub, they have to start out fast and take the crowd out of it because once the crowd gets into it, it’s hard to contain them. Also Seattle tends to make backup QB’s look like all-world but I don’t expect that to happen.
As for the defense, Seattle’s offense is still pretty good despite their issues in the red zone and on third down. The offensive line mainly on the right side of the ball is a bit uncertain in terms of health but they have been holding up as of late. I expect Cleveland’s defense to challenge them but be prepared for Seattle’s offense to move the ball, they have the talent and they can find ways to score. If there is one name to look out for is WR Jake Bobo, he can find ways to make an impact. Cleveland’s defense will come out looking to shake off a rough performance last week but Seattle’s offense will be a challenge. Seattle is a good team. Cleveland is a good team. This game should’ve been flexed into Sunday night. This game will be closer than what people think and this game will come down to who executes and doesn’t make mistakes. If this game goes to overtime, don’t be surprised Seahawks games tend to be weird. Give me Seattle to win a close game.” Seahawks 27, Browns 24
Matt Wood: “Even without Watson the Browns are going to be okay. Why? Familiar story for the Browns this season, the defense. Yes the Browns’ offense has been inconsistent (that’s a nice way of saying bad at times), but the Seahawks have struggled on offense in two areas: third downs and red zone.
Even with the out of character performance on Sunday against Indy, the Browns are still really good on 3rd downs and haven’t allowed many teams to reach the red zone. I expect that to continue come Sunday. Maybe not a repeat performance for Myles, but he is going to be good and the defense will do the heavy lifting while the offense does just enough.” Browns 24, Seahawks 11
Ezweav: “Not happening y’all. And it’s ok because I’d rather drop one like this against an NFC team rather than to have lost that shootout last week to the Colts. I believe in Peej and we could see him putting up some numbers this week, but there’s just something about this matchup, especially being in Seattle. that gives me the sense we’re not going to have enough.
One thing to keep an eye on however is that Geno Smith has a tendency to put the ball in harm’s way in the red zone. It didn’t hurt him much last year but it’s starting to catch up with him. Thus if we could pop a few turnovers and play defense as we have all year up to last week, we can absolutely hang.
It’s just Seattle though. I feel like every time we’ve ever played out there, weird stuff has happened. We are throwing PJ Walker at them in this one. Just can’t feel like we’ll come out on top.
Shout out to NTN:” Seahawks 11, Browns 5
Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.