The Browns snapped their winless streak in Week 1 against the Steelers, tying 21-21. Head Coach Hue Jackson has to be a little more confident going into Week 2, and the Browns have shown their growth from last year already.
Tyrod Taylor looked confident and collected as always, and the Browns offense showed some potential, even without WR Josh Gordon making a huge impact. The Saints struggled defensively in Week 1 against their divisional rival Buccaneers, as Ryan Fitzpatrick put up 415 yards and 5 total touchdowns, and the Bucs hung 48 on the Saints.
Drew Brees did his best to counter FitzMagic, throwing for 439 yards and 3 touchdowns of his own, but it wasn’t enough as the Bucs outlasted the Saints 48-40.
Oddsmakers have the Saints as 8 point favourites at home, with the Over/Under set at 50.
The Browns are pulling out of their woeful ways, and molding themselves into a formidable competitor week in and week out. Coaching will always be a question mark until Hue Jackson proves he can win in late game situations, but the Browns have the roster and the potential to become something special.
While Tyrod Taylor may be just a placeholder at quarterback while Baker Mayfield waits for his opportunity, but Taylor has proven that he has a place in this league. Taylor threw for just short of 200 yards, a touchdown, and a pick against the Steelers, adding 77 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry impressed in his Browns debut as well, hauling in 7 catches for 106 yards, and is developing a nice rapport with Taylor moving forward. Opposite Landry, Josh Gordon returned to the field in a limited role after missing the entire preseason and had a nice contested catch for 17 yards and a touchdown to tie the game late in the 4th.
The story on defense was undoubtedly the young stars Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward. Coming off the edge, Garrett was virtually unblockable Sunday, tallying 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, and 2 forced fumbles. At cornerback, Ward drew some tough assignments in his rookie debut, matching up with All-Pro WR Antonio Brown and emerging star JuJu Smith-Schuster all game. Ward picked off Big Ben twice, and only allowed 50 yards on 6 catches on passes thrown his way.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
EDGE Emmanuel Ogbah (ankle)- suffered vs. Steelers, could miss this week and more, something to keep an eye on CB EJ Gaines (knee)- missed last game, likely out this week as well
New Orleans Saints
The Saints lost a shootout Sunday and continued their typical early season struggles. Since 2015, the Saints have started at least 0-2 in each season. Last season, they dropped games against the Vikings and Patriots to start the season.
The Saints are in win-now mode with Drew Brees pushing 40 years old, and the rest of the roster in pretty good shape, with playmakers all over. Running back Alvin Kamara took the league by storm last season, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year, and carried that momentum right into this season. Kamara supplemented star wide receiver Mike Thomas perfectly, as the duo combined for 25 catches, 292 yards and two touchdowns Sunday. Kamara also added 30 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns on the ground on only 8 carries.
Defensively, the Saints looked a step slow. Their front struggled to get pressure all game and finished without a single sack.
In coverage, Buccanneers QB Ryan “FitzMagic“Fitzpatrick diced up their secondary with 4 touchdowns and picked on safety Marcus Williams early over the top. The cornerback duo of Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley was super stingy last season, but they combined to allow 3 touchdowns against the Bucs.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
OG Andrus Peat (quad)- missed game vs. Bucs, but was practicing prior to the game, something to monitor this week Saints have not announced any post-game injuries as of Monday night
Matchups to Watch
Browns WRs vs. Saints CBs
Browns TE David Njoku vs. Saints LB/S
Saints OTs vs. Browns EDGE Myles Garrett
Saints WR Michael Thomas vs. Browns CB Denzel Ward
The Saints early NFL season trend continues. They may walk away with a win, but the Browns won’t be the walkover win that they have been in years past.
The Browns defense is legit. Even though a few of the Steelers turnovers last week were self-inflicted, the Browns D proved they could keep them in games with a potent pass rush and some playmakers in the secondary.
The Browns will play the ball control game, trying to force the Saints into making mistakes, and sustaining long, clock-eating drives on offense. To counter, the Saints will try to score early and often, forcing the Browns to play catch up, and try to outlast the Browns on the scoreboard by making it a shootout.
We think Myles Garrett comes up with another huge game and starts building his campaign for Defensive Player of the Year. Drew Brees and the Saints will do more than enough on offense, but I have concerns about their defense this early in the season. We expect the Browns to go on the road and cover here, with Browns continuing their climb out of the cellar, yet remaining winless.
Final Pick: Browns (+8)