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Three and Out: Texans-Browns Predictions

The BRB staff gathers to predict Houston’s visit to Cleveland, where the Texans face a returning Nick Chubb and the Browns

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Texans can’t play the Jaguars every week, sadly. At 2-6, even in an expanded playoff format, Houston faces long odds to make it to the postseason. The Browns are 5-3 with a 3-1 record at home. Still, this does not seem like an unwinnable game for the Texans. Even with Nick Chubb expected to be back in the lineup, the Browns are around the middle of the pack on defense, so if Deshaun Watson is on his game, I feel like the Texans can get it done. Let’s see how the BRB staff sees this contest playing out.

Matt Weston: Texans 31, Browns 23.

I think the Browns are phonies. Baker Mayfield can roll left, and he can roll right, but he locks on his first read, a problem that has and will continue to be exacerbated without Odell Beckham Jr. around. Despite playing in an easy offense, that I, you, or anyone could run if we were given two years and turned it into a full time job, Baker has struggled. He’s still cowardly in the pocket. He’s bad against pressure and the blitz. The one great game he had was against a horrendous Bengals pass defense. The Browns are from the same sack as the Vikings. They want their quarterback to have 15 pass attempts and they want to run the ball as much as heaven allows. Maybe we’ll get lucky and see some KEEEEENUUUUUUM action on Sunday.

Will the Browns run the ball well? Of course. Is it going to be nasty? Yes. Even without Nick Chubb, who’s supposed to return this week, the Browns could rush for 200 yards. The torrential water will keep flowing through the dam that detonated this season.

That being said, Deshaun Watson hasn’t had a truly great game this year against a somewhat competent team. This is the week it happens. The Browns’ pass defense is fine. They create big plays because they employ eventual Defensive Player of the Year Myles Garrett, Sheldon Richardson (who the Texans should have signed in 2018), Larry Ogunjobi, and Olivier Vernon (who still has his moments). Houston should be able to block on the edges well enough. They’ll have problems on the interior. That being said, they should be able to spread Cleveland out and play pick-and-pop.

Passing the ball is more important than running the ball. This game will be a testament to that. The Texans have a great quarterback. The Browns barely have something that resembles it.

Chris: Texans 33, Browns 30.

The Texans are not a good team at all, but I have the possibly unpopular opinion that they are still better than 2-6, especially with the albatross that is Bill O’Brien having been shown the door. Sure, the defense is utterly helpless and the offense seems lethal one week and O’Brien-esque the next, but I just don’t see much reason to fear the (admittedly improved) Cleveland Browns. Nick Chubb will be a big problem for the Texans, but I see Watson as more of a problem for the Browns.

The Texans fall behind early but work their way back once Deshaun is allowed to slice and dice. The Browns miss a long field goal to tie the game, securing Houston’s first non-Jacksonville win of the season.

l4blitzer: Browns 26, Texans 16.

The good news: The Texans are coming off of a win. Deshaun Watson is Deshuan Watson, Tracy Smith is advancing towards Special Teams Grand Master Wizard level, and we may have some actual linebackers for this game.

The bad news: We are done playing Jacksonville this season. We are 2-0 against them, 0-6 against everyone else. Cleveland is in the “everyone else” category. Even with our linebackers returning, the Texans do not have a great defense. They do not have a good pass defense, but the pass defense is stellar compared to the run defense (or significant lack thereof). Given that the weather conditions call for strong winds and rain, that bodes well for teams that can run the football. Cleveland has a 1-2 combination at running back Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Throw in Baker Mayfield, who is returning from the COVID-19 list, and the Browns have a decided edge in the ground game. With the Texans’ run defense weaknesses, if Cleveland does not run the ball at least 40+ times, their offensive coordinator needs to be stuffed into a cannon and fired into a polluted part of Lake Erie. True, they are without OBJ, but with all the running that Cleveland should be doing, it will not matter. Besides, the Browns should be able to feast on a series of devastating play-action passes. Our defensive backs cannot cover, cannot tackle, and cannot catch the ball. Other than that, they are fine.

The only reason that the score stays as low as it is goes to the fact that with all the running that the Browns should do in this game, it will bleed the clock. Watson will play valiantly, but he will be under wicked pressure from Myles Garrett and the weather may negate the Texans’ passing attack. Cleveland doesn’t have that great a defense, but the running game will do its job (figure on Cleveland getting over the 160 yards/game the Texans give up rushing). Somehow, this projected defeat may be only the second-worst beating the Texans take this week.

bfMFd: Browns 38, Texans 24.

With Baker Mayfield almost certain to start, this game could be as ugly as that time I wore the panda suit to the furry convention. Who knew cleanliness was a thing?

The Browns are mediocre on both sides of the ball, and they get Nick Chubb back this week. Adrian Peterson still holds the record for 296 yards rushing in a single game. I’m not saying Chubb breaks that record, but we might want to buy some fresh polish just in case (guessing 180 yards for Chubb).

The Texans average 24 points per game. I don’t see where that changes.

Mike: Texans 31, Browns 27.

I’m calling a breakout win streak (yes, two wins in a row is a ‘streak’) for the first time all year. J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson do what only they can do and will this team to rise up.

A few lucky ball bounces, a controversial call here and there, and the Texans put this one away.

Myles Garrett will have his share of highlight reel plays, but they won’t come against Laremy Tunsil. Tim Kelly will scheme some things to grind Garrett into the turf. Watson will do his normal broken-play magic to make everyone think there’s hope in Houston leading into next week’s game against the New England Patriots.

Tim: Texans 27, Browns 24.

I don’t know why I’m doing this. I’ve watched the 2020 Houston Texans. I’ve anguished over the return of the Battle Red Carpet defense. The weather in Cleveland on game day is supposed to be bad, and the Browns should be welcoming back Nick Chubb. Reason says Chubb and Kareem Hunt will ravage an invisible Houston run defense. All logic dictates that this will be a loss.

And yet...

This just seems like the kind of game Deshaun Watson is going to win. I see him outplaying Baker Mayfield, playing a turnover-free game while Mayfield carelessly gives the ball to a beleaguered Houston defense a couple of times. I think Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks get behind the Cleveland secondary for touchdowns, and Duke Johnson gets a bit of revenge against his old team with a score of his own.

A passerby happened to record me typing this prediction. Behold!

Use the comments below to predict Sunday’s contest, and above all else - enjoy the game! Maybe Keke Coutee will finally see the f——-BUAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!