Texans vs Browns : Breaking down the matchups in the Texans’ game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at NRG Stadium:
An improved offensive line and a terrific performance by rookie Nick Chubb have given the Browns a formidable running game. Chubb has 663 yards, a 5.4-yard average per carry and six touchdowns. The Browns are ninth in rushing (128.7 yards). Guards Joel Bitonio and Kevin Zeitler are strong run blockers who help clear paths up the middle. The Texans are seventh against the run (96.8 yards). The front seven has been outstanding against the run. The Texans are fifth (3.75) in yards allowed per rush.
The Browns are 12th in average rush per play (4.55). The outside players in the front seven have to be careful because they’ve been burned by quarterbacks running around the corner and end-around runs that take advantage of their overpursuit. They have to be more disciplined. The return of inside linebackers Zach Cunningham and Dylan Cole from injuries to play with leading tackler Benardrick McKinney improves a suffocating run defense.
Rookie Baker Mayfield has been on fire with seven touchdown passes and no interceptions in the past two games, both double-digit victories. The Austin native is the first rookie quarterback to post back-to-back games with a rating of at least 140.0. He has 17 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and a 93.2 rating. He’s a fierce competitor who’ll stand in under pressure to find receivers. He’s also got good mobility and can throw well on the run. Veteran Jarvis Landry (60 catches, 630 yards, two touchdowns) and tight end David Njoku (41, 431 and three) are his leading receivers
In their past five games, the Texans average 34 carries and 169 yards — boosted by the team-record 281 yards against Tennessee. That performance, highlighted by Lamar Miller’s 97-yard touchdown, made the Texans fourth in rushing (136.5 yards). The Browns are 28th (131.8) against the run, including 25th in rushing yards per play (4.77). It’s no secret how coach Bill O’Brien will try to attack the Browns.
In the past five games, Deshaun Watson hasn’t thrown more than 24 passes. His high for yards was 239. But he has 11 touchdowns and two interceptions during that stretch. He’s coming off a victory over Tennessee when he accounted for three touchdowns, including two passing.