Jekyll and Hyde: Inconsistent Browns host hot Russell Wilson, Seahawks

Can Baker Mayfield find the magic touch and Cleveland's D cool off Wilson?

Daryl Ruiter
October 12, 2019 - 3:30 pm

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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Cleveland, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – The Browns, 2-3 on the year, seek their first home win of the 2019 season and look to get back on track Sunday afternoon when they host the 4-1 Seattle Seahawks.

The question is which Browns team is going to show up? The one that got boatraced by the Titans and 49ers or the dominating force that stormed Baltimore?

Baker Mayfield and the offense has underwhelmed for the most part through the first 5 games under first year head coach Freddie Kitchens while the wheels came completely off the wagon for the defense last week in San Francisco that saw the team suffer its worst defeat since a 37-3 loss to Cincinnati on Dec. 6, 2015.

The Seahawks are looking to start 3-0 on road for the first time since 1980 and 5-1 for the third time in franchise history (2003, 2013) with a victory.

What to watch for – Mayfield’s red zone numbers are horrifying through 5 games. He has completed just 6 of 24 passes or 25% of them with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions inside the 20. Inside the 10 he’s just 3 of 14 or 21.43% with the 3 completions going for scores and 2 interceptions. In 2018 Mayfield was 35 of 54 or 64.81% with 20 touchdowns and no interceptions. Inside the 10 he completed 15 of 25 passes or 60% with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. Mayfield leads the NFL with 8 interceptions this season compared to just 4 TD tosses.

Receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. diplomatically pleaded this week get them the ball. The Browns’ dynamic has combined for 45 catches for 738 yards but produced a grand total of 1 touchdown in 5 games.

Rashard Higgins is healthy after missing the last 4 games due to a knee injury suffered in Week 1 but Kitchens was non-committal if he’ll play one of Mayfield’s favorite targets. Higgins and Mayfield bonded during training camp in 2018 while the duo were relegated to backup reps. Higgins has caught 41 passes for 618 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games from Mayfield.

While Mayfield struggles for the Browns in his sophomore season, Russell Wilson has been elite, registering a passer rating of 102 or higher in all 5 games, this season. Wilson has gone 174 pass attempts since his last interception – his career best is 203 without pick, which is also a franchise record. Wilson is the first QB in the Super Bowl era with 1,400 yards passing, 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the first 5 games.

The Seahawks lead the NFL with a 94% conversion scoring rate inside opponents' 20-yard line while the Browns’ defense has held opponents to 71.4% scoring rate inside the 20.

The Browns run defense that held Derrick Henry, Le’Veon Bell and Todd Gurley each under 100 yards surrendered a whopping 275 yards on the ground Monday night at San Francisco and it doesn’t get any easier Sunday with Seahawks running back Chris Carson, who has rushed for at least 100 yards in consecutive games. 

Seattle’s offensive line is banged up which could mean good news for defensive end Myles Garrett, who is second in the NFL with 7.0 sacks this season. Starting left tackle Duane Brown (biceps) and right guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring) are both listed as doubtful and backup guard Ethan Pocic has been ruled out with a back injury.

Last week – Seahawks beat the Rams 30-29, Browns lost to the 49ers 31-3

Last Time – Dec. 20, 2015: Seahawks 30, Browns 13

Series – Seahawks lead all-time series dating back to 1977 12-6

Memorable moment – The last time Seattle visited Cleveland produced one of the ugliest games in recent memory – a 6-3 Browns triumph on Oct. 23, 2011. Phil Dawson made field goals of 52 and 53 yards in the victory for Cleveland, who dominated statistically, outgaining Seattle 298-137. Charlie Whitehurst threw for just 69 yards starting for the Seahawks.

Rankings – Points scored: Seahawks 8 (26.8), Browns 25 (18.4)

Yards: Seahawks 7 (388.0), Browns 23 (340.2)

Rushing: Seahawks 12 (122.6), Browns 17 (112.4)   

Passing: Seahawks 8 (265.4), Browns 20 (227.8)

Points allowed: Seahawks 18 (23.6), Browns 21 (24.4)

Yards allowed: Seahawks 14 (350.6), Browns 18 (357.2)

Rushing yards allowed: Seahawks 4 (80.0), Browns 29 (150.8)  

Passing yards allowed: Seahawks 26 (270.6), Browns 7 (206.4)

Turnover ratio: Seahawks 7t (+3) Browns 22t (-3)

Probable Starters – Offense: WR Odell Beckham Jr., TE Pharaoh Brown, LT Greg Robinson, LG Joel Bitonio, C JC Tretter, RG Eric Kush, RT Chris Hubbard, QB Baker Mayfield, WR Jarvis Landry, WR Rashard Higgins, RB Nick Chubb

Defense: DE Myles Garrett, DT Larry Ogunjobi, DT Sheldon Richardson, DE Olivier Vernon, WILL Mack Wilson, MIKE Joe Schobert, CB Terrance Mitchell, CB TJ Carrie, FS Damarious Randall, S Jermaine Whitehead, SS Morgan Burnett

Injury report – Out: None

Questionable: OT Kendall Lamm (knee), CB Denzel Ward (hamstring), CB Greedy Williams (hamstring)

Expected to play: WR Rashard Higgins (knee), WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hip)

Uniforms – Primary colors: brown jerseys and pants with orange stripes and lettering

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

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

Our prediction – Browns 27, Seahawks 23

Our prediction record – 3-2