Sunday Night Football: Week 3 Preview

Los Angeles Rams at Cleveland Browns

FirstEnergy Stadium

Cleveland, OH

Betting

Cleveland has been quite underwhelming so far this season which means that LA currently sits as the favorite for our Sunday Night matchup. The Rams are sitting at -3.5 on the spread and -190 on the Moneyline. With an Over/Under at 47 currently (-110), our night game is supposed to be one of the highest-scoring games played at any point today. I was able to lock-in the Rams at -3 early on in the week so I’m counting on the Rams to win by at least 4 points or push if they only win by 3.

Injuries

For the Rams, arguably the best defensive player in all of football, Aaron Donald, is listed as questionable with a back injury. The Rams coaching staff has stated that they expect Donald to play tonight unless something unforeseen happens during warm-ups. The only other injuries that are currently listed on the Rams injury report are starting RG Austin Blythe who is questionable and starting TE Tyler Higbee who is already ruled out. This could prove to be troublesome as the Browns defensive line is one of the strongest in the league. 

As for the Browns, 3 offensive players are on the injury report while 6 of their 11 defensive starters are either ruled out or are questionable. Wide receiver Rashard Higgins is questionable alongside starting RT Chris Hubbard which is an issue because of the aforementioned Aaron Donald and the freakish secondary of the Rams. The big loss, however, is starting TE David Njoku who broke his wrist last week and was placed on the IR. With 2 weapons potentially down along with the strong-side protector, the Browns are not sitting pretty. Now for the defensive side of the ball. Starting MLB Christian Kirksey and starting safety Demarious Randall are already ruled out for the game tonight. The remaining members of the secondary are all questionable along with another starting linebacker (Denzel Ward, Morgan Burnett, Greedy Williams, and Adarius Taylor).

Cleveland Offense vs. Los Angeles Defense

It is fairly safe to say that the Browns have been under-performing so far this season. The Browns had all of the hype behind them in the off-season and so far they are averaging less than 400 yards a game and under 20 points. That is not going to cut it against a legitimate contender like the Rams. Baker Mayfield has looked lost as he’s thrown more INTs than TDs, been sacked 8 times, and has a QBR of 38.7 which is, let me check my notes, not good. Despite the poor play of his QB, superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has found a way to remain productive with an average of 116 yards receiving per game and 4 plays of over 20 yards to his name already this season. Nick Chubb is not going to have a lot of room to run against this haunting Rams defensive front so expect a lot of work for Mayfield and the pass catchers.

This Rams defense is no joke. Teams are averaging less than 225 passing yards and 92 rushing yards against them this season and that is because of the star power they have on defense. There are too many Pro Bowl players on this defensive and frankly, it is not fair. They are coming a week in which they obliterated the Saints, granted Drew Brees left the game early, but still!

Los Angeles Offense vs. Cleveland Defense

Similar to the Browns offense, the Rams offense has been less than what we hoped for to start the season. Dissimilar to the Browns offense, the Rams offense has been underwhelming because they can just run the ball and play excellent defense in order to win. What has turned out to be a 2-headed monster in the backfield, Todd Gurley II and Malcolm Brown are each averaging over 5 yards a carry. Okay, so defenses should just load up the box to stop the run right? Wrong. Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Brandon Cooks are all elite-level receivers that must be kept a close eye on. Kupp and Cooks each already have caught passes for over 55 yards and are constant big-play threats. Woods is treated more as a safety valve for QB Jared Goff, who appears to be competing for the title of under-performing former 1st overall picks with Mayfield. Goff is protecting the ball better than Mayfield, possibly because he does not have to throw as much, but his QBR is actually lower at a mark of 35.1… which is still a very bad number according to my notes.

Normally, this Browns defense performs well. But, because their own offense keeps shooting them in the foot, they are hurting. In fact, they are literally hurting themselves. As mentioned in the injury section, 6 of their 11 starters on defense are either out or questionable for this game. With their entire secondary ailing, the Rams should be able to throw the ball over the top with some ease tonight and force the Browns to pull their injured players that tried to push themselves, out for the remainder of the game.

Prediction

Rams: 28

Browns: 15

Guaranteed Touchdown Scorer: Malcolm Brown

Dart Throw Touchdown Scorer: Ricky Seals-Jones

Conclusion

What do you think of tonight’s game between offenses that have performed less than advertised? Should the Browns just throw in the towel and concede if they fall behind early in order to get healthier? Let me know in the comments down below!

-Mitchell Seefeldt

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