The Browns are an improved team and a fun one to watch at that. Baker Mayfield looks like a legitimate NFL QB and Nick Chubb is a superstar in the making. On the other side, Myles Garrett terrifies me and in general, that roster is full of young talent with tremendous upside. However, their aggressive style of defense does not work well against a smart, veteran QB like Matt Ryan. I suspect he and Sark already have a plan in place to punish their defense for aggression. I think this is a team on the rise, but they’re not there just yet.
Falcons 34 - Browns 10
The Falcons have all the momentum and I’m not willing to bet against Steve Sarkisian’s ability to continue to impersonate a competent offensive coordinator.
Falcons 30 - Browns 13
Talent-wise, the Browns are a competitive football team. But the coaching is simply not there for Cleveland, and it’s weighing down a decent roster. The Falcons are peaking and just wasted one of the NFC’s top defenses on the road. We’ll see what Bruce Irvin’s addition does for Atlanta’s defense, but this is a game that the Falcons should control from start to finish. If Atlanta can get out to a sizable lead early, it’ll force Cleveland to play catch-up--which will likely result in some turnovers for the improving but still young Baker Mayfield.
Falcons 31 - Browns 24
As fun as last week was and as exciting as the future may be with Bruce Irvin here and Deion Jones close to returning, part of me still thinks Atlanta might be a bit more roller-coaster-ish in the back eight games. While Washington was a bit banged up on offense last week, this Falcons defense will get no such break with Cleveland looking to be pretty healthy. Now, they’re a lesser team than what Atlanta faced in D.C., but they’re far from an easy opponent. If the offensive line can handle Myles Garrett and company, the team will be able to score its points. I worry the defense might regress just a hair, but they should be able to do enough to keep this one from getting too close. I expect a late Cleveland score to make this one look closer on paper, but Atlanta should hypothetically have a 31-17 type of afternoon if all goes well.
Falcons 30 - Browns 23
Last week I predicted a narrow win and the Falcons beat the pants off Washington. This week, I’m predicting a narrow win and hopefully the Falcons will do that well or better.
Their matchup this week has some complications—Cleveland has a quality pass rush, forces a lot of turnovers, and the weather’s going to be colder than Atlanta is used to—but the Falcons are the better team and are hot right now. It should translate to a win on the road, and we’ll hope it’s a comfortable one for the sake of our collective blood pressure.
Falcons 38 - Browns 20
At 1-4, I eyed this matchup as a game where we could see the Falcons get punched in the mouth by an improving team talent-wise. Make no mistake, this is not your normal Browns team. Mayfield will win in Cleveland, Jarvis Landry is a workhorse at receiver, Myles Garrett is in the elite tier among pass rushers, and Denzel Ward could be a top-5 corner when he’s fully developed. The run game here will speak volumes. Cleveland averages about 124 yards per game on the ground which places them in the top-10. They also allow roughly 138 per game which places them among the league’s worst. A fast start by the Falcons offense forces the Browns into shootout mode, which they don’t have the ammo to trade shots. A suddenly faster Falcons defensive line gets to Mayfield and a few turnovers late makes this one-sided.
Falcons 35 - Browns 24
As dysfunctional as they are as an organization, the Browns’ roster is filled with talent on both sides of the ball. They have managed to draft a plethora of highly regarded prospects that have immediately acclimated to the NFL. Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, David Njoku, Myles Garrett, Larry Ogunjobi, and Denzel Ward are either future stars or soon-to-be established stars. This isn’t going to be a total one-sided affair. Although the Falcons’ offense is firing on all cylinders, it may take some time to adjust to Gregg Williams’ absurd blitzes. An undisciplined, poor tackling team like Cleveland will eventually falter against one of the most prolific offenses in the league. Expect Matt Ryan and his terrific supporting cast to keep rolling.