Final Thoughts on Green Bay Packers v. Cleveland Browns

Oct 3, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur talks with quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during warmups prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 3, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur talks with quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during warmups prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Before the 11-3 Green Bay Packers take the field against the 7-7 Cleveland Browns, as part of my weekly preview, I have my final thoughts on the upcoming matchup.

Green Bay Packers v. Cleveland Browns Final Thoughts

Myles Garrett is listed as questionable and did not practice all week, but my expectation is that he will play. Following Monday Night’s game, via PFT, Garrett said, “you’re going to have to kill me to take me off that field.” With his 68 pressures and 17 sacks, according to PFF ($$), Garrett is a Defensive Player of the Year Candidate and an absolute game wrecker. Yosh Nijman and Dennis Kelly will have a massive challenge ahead of them.

"“He’s just a monster,” said Aaron Rodgers. “He’s a fantastic player. He legitimately has gold jacket possibilities in his future.”"

– With that said, it’s not as if this Green Bay Packers OL hasn’t gone up against some of the NFL’s best edge rushers this season already. Nijman, specifically, has faced TJ Watt, Robert Quinn, Nick Bosa, and Trey Hendrickson–although Garrett very well could be his toughest test yet.

– A week after Mark Andrews did whatever he wanted against the Green Bay defense, the Packers will face a trio of Cleveland tight ends that will be featured heavily. Now, individually, Austin Hooper, David Njoku, and Harrison Bryant are not Mark Andrews, but collectively they have totaled 949 yards and seven touchdowns, with Hooper and Njoku being favorite targets of Baker Mayfield.

– According to Sharp Football, the Browns utilize at least two tight ends on 44 percent of their offensive plays and three tight ends 19 percent of the time, which leads the NFL by a wide margin. The coverage abilities of the Packer linebackers and safeties will be crucial.

– Joe Barry’s M.O. is to take away the pass and dare offenses’ to run the ball. But this week against a Browns team that features Nick Chubb, who is averaging 5.4 yards per rush, it will be interesting to see if Barry opts to have a few more players closer to the line of scrimmage. Fortunately, Kenny Clark will be back and the Green Bay Packers defense is really going to need him.

– It’s going to take all 11 Packers defenders hustling to the ball to bring down Chubb. In terms of total yards after contact and average yards after contact per carry, he is one of the best RBs in football. Tackling, however, is one area that this Green Bay defense is much improved upon this season.

– The Cleveland offensive line is also very good in pass protection, ranking first in ESPN’s pass-block win rate, and they’ve allowed the fifth-fewest pressures this season, according to PFF. Baker Mayfield’s average time to throw of 2.89 seconds is the eighth-most in football. However, it’s worth noting that at the moment, both JC Tretter and Jedrick Willis are both on the reserve/COVID list.

– Will there be any rust that Mayfield will have to shake off after a stint on the reserve/COVID list? He has missed practice all week and it’s been a very up and down season for him. Mayfield currently ranks 21st out of 39 eligible QBs in passer rating.

– How many special teams miscues will we see today?

– The Green Bay Packers offense has really started to click over the last four games, and while Cleveland ranks 14th in points per game allowed — which is not good but also not bad — I do see them being able to give Rodgers and Co. some fits. The Cleveland pass rush ranks fourth in pass-rush win rate, and they’re allowing only 4.1 yards per rush. On the back end, they have three very good CBs — although they will likely be without Greg Newsome, who was placed on the reserve/COVID list — and as a team, they are allowing the eighth fewest passing yards per game.

– Over the last three or four games, the Green Bay Packers tight ends have really begun to make an impact in the passing game. Josiah Deguara and Marcedes Lewis have caught 19 of the 24 combined targets for 205 yards, a touchdown, and both have been quite effective at picking up YAC.

– As I wrote in a recent article, of course, Green Bay will miss Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s big-play ability, but he has developed into much more than just that. As we saw against Baltimore, he made big catches on third down, in the red zone, and in the two-minute drill. He was also effective on intermediate routes, and while it’s a small sample size, he’s been one of the NFL’s most productive slot receivers this season, averaging 3.53 yards per route run, according to PFF.

– Last week against a Ravens’ secondary that has been one of the worst in football, leaning on the passing game made a lot of sense. This week, however, a better run/pass mix will be important to Green Bay’s success on offense as they face a well-rounded Browns’ defense.

Prediction: Packers 27 – Browns 17