Browns look to end 4-game losing streak, Falcons' 3-game win streak

Could more Duke be key to ending slide Sunday?

Daryl Ruiter
November 10, 2018 - 9:12 pm
Duke Johnson scored touchdown against Kansas City Chiefs for Cleveland Browns

Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland (92.3 The Fan) – Two teams traveling in opposite directions collide Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium when the Atlanta Falcons come to town to face the Browns.

The Falcons, winners of three straight, need a win to work their way back into the NFC South divisional race and the NFC playoff picture while the Browns will try to end a four-game losing streak before the bye.

The last time these two teams met the Browns appeared to be headed for a turnaround but since a dramatic 26-24 victory in 2014, the franchise has since fallen off the cliff having won just six games and fired two head coaches and two GMs since.

With the weather beginning to turn and the expectation for the offense to continue to grow and increase production, the answer to the question of how to do that could be Duke Johnson Jr.

His role is expected to continue to expand within the offense with Freddie Kitchens calling plays. Last week Johnson tied a career-high by catching all nine of his targets for 78 yards. Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield has completed 26 of 30 passes for 266 yards and two TDs when throwing in Johnson's direction this season.

Interim head coach Gregg Williams wants Mayfield to take more chances and “cut it loose” this week. Mayfield has completed over 67 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and two interceptions over the last three games for the Browns.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has returned to MVP form, which is bad news for the Browns secondary. Ryan is completing over 70 percent of his passes this season for 2,685 yards with 19 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

Cleveland continues to lead the NFL in turnover ratio and they’ve forced 23 turnovers this season, but the Falcons have turned it over just five times in 2018.

Sunday's game marks the fourth time the Browns will face a top-10 offense.

Last week – Falcons beat Washington 38-14, Browns lost to the Chiefs 37-21

Last time – Nov. 23, 2014: Browns 26, Falcons 24

Series – Browns lead 11-3  

Rankings – Points per game: Falcons 8 (28.5), Browns 23 (21.1)   

Total yards per game: Falcons 5 (412.2), Browns 23 (347.4)

Rushing per game: Falcons 28 (92.1), Browns 9 (124.6)  

Passing per game: Falcons 2 (320.1), Browns 23 (222.9)  

Points allowed per game: Falcons 29 (28.2), Browns 28 (27.4)  

Defensive yards allowed per game: Falcons 28 (412.8), Browns 30 (423.9)

Run defense: Falcons 17 (108.5), Browns 29 (138.9)

Pass defense: Falcons 29 (304.2), Browns 27 (285.0)

Turnover ratio: Falcons 13t (+3), Browns 1 (+11)

Projected starters – Offense: WR Jarvis Landry, TE Darren Fells, LT Greg Robinson, LG Joel Bitonio, C JC Tretter, RG Kevin Zeitler, RT Chris Hubbard, QB Baker Mayfield, TE David Njoku, WR Antonio Callaway, RB Nick Chubb

Defense: DE Myles Garrett, DT Larry Ogunjobi, DT Trevon Coley, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, WILL Genard Avery, MIKE Joe Schobert, SAM Jamie Collins, CB Denzel Ward, CB TJ Carrie, FS Briean Boddy-Calhoun, SS Jabrill Peppers

Injury report – Questionable: C JC Tretter (ankle), CB Denzel Ward (hip), LB Jamie Collins (ankle), S Damarious Randall (groin), LB Joe Schobert (hamstring), WR Da’Mari Scott (shoulder),

Expected to play: LT Desmond Harrison (illness), TE David Njoku (knee, ribs), CB Tavierre Thomas (abdomen), RT Chris Hubbard (toe), WR Jarvis Landry (wrist), OL Austin Corbett (foot), WR Antonio Callaway (ankle)

Broadcast information – Radio: 92.3 The Fan, 98.5 WNCX and the University Hospitals Cleveland Browns radio network. TV: WJW TV-8 (FOX)

Kickoff – 1:03 p.m. FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio  

Prediction – Falcons 27, Browns 23