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Why the Packers Will Beat Cleveland and Why They Might Not

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Why the Packers Will Beat Cleveland and Why They Might Not

For the Green Bay Packers, all that stands in the way of a return by Aaron Rodgers, is a win over the (0-12) Cleveland Browns. 

Obviously, if the Packers had Aaron Rodgers playing quarterback, they would be heavy favorites to win. Instead, with Brett Hundley, Green Bay is a 3.5-point favorite.

The Packers should still have enough to beat the Browns, but with a young quarterback, every win, especially on the road, is going to be hard to come by. 

Green Bay’s motivations in this game are obvious. Win or kiss any hopes you have of making the playoffs goodbye. The Packers are already a long shot, even with a  possible Rodgers return next week. 

But before Green Bay can start thinking about his injured shoulder and whether it can stand up against the Panthers, it needs to win in Cleveland. Otherwise, that entire discussion becomes a moot point.

So with that in mind, here are a few reasons the Packers will beat the Browns, along with a reason or two why they might not.

Why Green Bay will win:

If the Packers are going to beat Cleveland, they will need to continue to be successful on the ground. Jamaal Williams has had a couple of really good weeks and last week against the Bucs, both he and Aaron Jones found the end zone with rushing touchdowns.

Of course, the score by Jones in overtime gave the Packers the win. That run also showed that the UTEP rookie is ready to make an impact again. Last week was his first game back since an MCL injury and although he didn’t touch the ball often, his overtime-touchdown run was the biggest play of the game.

Altogether, the Packers are 16th in the NFL in rushing, but also rank fourth in touchdown runs and fifth in yards per rush at 4.5 a carry. Green Bay has run the ball effectively, especially in recent weeks and despite the fact that the Browns are sixth in rushing yards allowed, it needs to pound the rock if it wants a seventh win. 

If Cleveland can stymie the ground game, it will place more pressure on Hundley, who has just two wins as a starter. Yet, if the Packers can run the ball and if they can use Hundley in the zone read, it should open up some things in the passing game with Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson too.

Another big key is going to be turnovers.

Against the Ravens a few weeks ago, the Packers had five turnovers. Since then, Green Bay has just one, an interception thrown last week by Hundley. The defense forced three turnovers against the Steelers and one last week against the Bucs, which was returned for a touchdown by Dean Lowry.

If the Packers can win the turnover battle or at least be even, that bodes well. And if Green Bay run establish the run, whether it's with Williams or Jones, or both, its chances of winning, will be even greater. 

And if the defense can force some turnovers, which should be doable against a Browns team averaging 2.5 giveaways per game, then the Packers should be able to escape the Dawg Pound with a win. 

Why the Browns might win:

One reason of course, is the sixth-ranked run defense. If Cleveland can limit what the Packers can do on the ground and put moving the ball almost entirely on Hundley throwing it, then the Browns have a shot at getting their first win.

Last week, on the road, Cleveland gave the Chargers all they could handle before eventually losing 19-10. But that game showed that the Browns still have plenty of fight and at home, against a Packers team without Aaron Rodgers, Cleveland will be plenty motivated.

The Browns are also running out of chances to win. Two of their last three games are against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, so that will only add to the sense urgency.

The Browns do play the Bears in Chicago in two weeks, which seems like another winnable game. However, if Cleveland wants to find the winner’s circle, beating the Hundley-led Packers could be its last, best chance.

There’s a reason why the experts have the Packers as just a field goal favorite. This game is probably going to be close. It’s likely going to be a defensive struggle and will come down to which team runs the ball better and which quarterback does a better job of limiting turnovers.

That team should be Hundley and the Packers, who can get to 7-6 with a win. Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL, not even beating the lowly Browns.

But if the Packers can run the football, force 2-3 turnovers and limit their own mistakes, they should find a way to win and make next week’s game meaningful enough to give Rodgers a reason to comeback. 

__________________________

Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (10) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Houndog's picture

If, if, if!
Of course I want to see the Packers win, but this team isn't going anywhere with this defense, with or without Rodgers, let's be honest.
We've been stuck with Capers while McPuffy passes on guys like Jim Schwartz and Wade Phillips to go build great defenses elsewhere.
TT drafts King with a bad shoulder, Biegel with a bad wheel, and lets good players walk while counting on "his" rookies to play DB and other positions. If, If, If !!!
If my aunt had balls she'd be my uncle!

Nick Perry's picture

Two guys I would have loved to be the DC in GB. Schwartz worked for the League Offices last season and was out of coaching for a year. Phillips was in the same boat, out for a year before being hired.

The Packers could actually have a pretty damn good front with Perry and Lowry at DE and Clark and Daniels at DT. You'd have Adams as depth and Matthews if still here as just a pass rusher on 3rd down, a role he might be pretty decent at because of the limited snaps.

Censored's picture

It's sad but i hope the packers lose. I'm fine with giving up on the season for a chance at getting Dom fired. I know we have other problems but hes been the biggest for longest.

Norm's picture

Here's my dream scenario:
1. Packers beat Cleveland with Hundley
2. Rodgers returns, Packers run the table and beat MN (team that injured Rodgers) to squeak into the playoffs.
3. Packers beat MN in the NFC championship game on their home turf
4. Packers win Super Bowl in that same stadium two weeks later.
5. Vikings still have zero Super Bowl wins, Packers have five.
6. Capers retires, going out on top by shutting out the Patriots in Tom Brady's last game.

Unlikely I know (and pure fantasy that last one) but would anything be sweeter than that?

Norm's picture

I forgot the live unicorns as the Super Bowl halftime entertainment.

ironman3169's picture

Thank you thank you a thousand thank yous for the laugh you just gave me!
GO PACK!!

Since '61's picture

The Packers need to play this game with a sense of urgency. Even with Hundley they are a better team than the Browns. Cleveland is 0-12 for a reason(s).

If they don't bring a sense of urgency especially on defense it will be time to move on from TT and long overdue for time to move on from Capers.

Regardless of how the Packers finish this season they should not lose to the Browns and they should not allow their playoff hopes to end against a winless team. That is unacceptable.

Due to another commitment I will not be able to watch most of this game but I'm sure that I will hear the moans all the way in NY if the Packers lose this afternoon. Thanks, Since '61

Nick Perry's picture

"if they can use Hundley in the zone read, it should open up some things in the passing game with Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson too"

I saw a shot of Cleveland a little earlier and it was snowing like crazy. If the weather stays the same Hundley could/would be most effective running the ball. He'd know where he's going, something he doesn't always have going for him when he's passing the ball.

Tarynfor12's picture

" Even with Hundley they are a better team than the Browns. Cleveland is 0-12 for a reason(s)."

Are you sure about that????

Would there really be that much difference in being 0-12 and 1-11 or 2-10 with Hundley. When teams lose that many times is there a true distinction.
The Browns lose competitively more often than not. Can't say same about the Packers.

egbertsouse's picture

I heard that the way to beat the Browns is to go after their LBs with passes to our backs and tight ends. This was from reporters that cover the Browns. Does anybody think Mashed Potato Mike will make this a part of his game plan? Or will he call the same old game, a few runs and then play action stuff 30 yards downfield?

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