Browns need a win over the Packers to stay in the playoff race.
As the Browns head Northwest to Lambeau Field, it’s important to remember that Cleveland isn’t done. If they win out they’ll finish with 10 wins and a shot at both the AFC North or the wildcard. Some teams are playing one another and losses are bound to happen, so the team isn’t dead in the water.
It’s not going to be easy but it’s far from a guarantee they’re done. That means knocking off the Packers and then the Steelers on the road. A tough task but one that could prove the Browns contenders if they’re able to do it.
What’s the point of going to the playoffs if people don’t have faith in you. To get there, they have to beat the Packers and to beat the Packers these five players need to step up and handle their business. And yes, technically it’s 11 people this week, hush up. We’re still dealing with Monday.
Five players who need to step up against the Packers
Baker Mayfield has had a rough year. His injuries have impacted his play and too many fans are being far too dismissive of the impact of that. Moreover, there are some discussions going on that lead some to believe that Mayfield may not want to be back in Kevin Stefanski’s system, that he wants to throw more, and if that’s the case this championship window could shut rather fast. Mayfield has got to bring his A-game to Green Bay on Christmas Day.
I was never truly on the Donovan Peoples-Jones hype train and now I see where this train is going to end, right into Eastwood Ravine. He’s not the answer, and he’s not even an NFL starter. He can make the occasional big play, sure but so could Andre Davis, Quincy Morgan, and Braylon Edwards. What did they all have in common with Peoples-Jones? A lack of consistency. Peoples-Jones should be on his way out of town in 2022. The sad truth is, the team still needs him. If he can muster any type of productivity against the Packers, then that will be one more reception than I expect him to make.
The offensive line
I keep telling all of you, and you all keep choosing not to listen. Wyatt Teller, J.C. Tretter, and Joel Bitonio are great. They’re not the issue. The tackles are. Jedrick Wills is expected back but that’s not exactly an upgrade, he was a bad player before he got COVID (and somehow he’s a Pro Bowl alternate), and Blake Hance is a guard trying to be a tackle and failing. The team fell apart without Jack Conklin because that was the side they ran to the most. Without him, they are running more up the middle, which is harder because it’s more cluttered and off the left side, which is a disaster because Wills can’t move people 50 lbs lighter than he is. They need a big game because Nick Chubb doesn’t deserve the beatings he’s taking.
He did sustain a groin injury in the second half of the Raiders game, but before then he was a non-factor. He gets held and double/triple-teamed every game, so that’s not an excuse. He laid an egg. He had plenty of one-on-one matchups with the Raiders offensive line and he couldn’t make a play. That’s just how it is sometimes. He needs to prove he’s worthy of being one of the best dozen players in the league, however, and wreck the Packers. If not, then it’s time to start to wonder if he’s worth the money he’s getting paid.
The tight ends
I think keeping David Njoku is a fine idea. Moving him to the receiver would be best for everyone next season, turning him into a heavier Brian Finneran type. Finding ways of getting him and Harrison Bryant the ball is going to be necessary come Sunday because even if Jarvis Landry is back on the field, the team isn’t exactly able to rely on the receivers. Even Landry has had a nasty habit of dropping things this year.