The Cleveland Browns are on track to make the 2023-24 NFL playoffs, but that doesn't mean they can afford to take their foot off the gas. They must keep the ball rolling in Week 16 against the Houston Texans, who just received some huge news regarding starting quarterback C.J. Stroud.
Texans insider Aaron Wilson reported on Thursday that Stroud is still in concussion protocol and is "set to miss a second consecutive game." Veteran QB Case Keenum will instead start in his place.
Browns News: C.J. Stroud Out for Week 16
There's no doubt that Stroud being sidelined is huge (and positive) news for the Browns. The 2023 second-overall pick had been lighting it up in his rookie season, averaging 279.3 passing yards per start with 20 touchdowns, five interceptions, and a 98.7 passer rating.
Instead, the Browns have the benefit of facing Case Keenum. Cleveland fans are more than familiar with the veteran journeyman, who spent the 2020 and 2021 seasons with the franchise. Although he didn't make much of an impact, he did win both of his starts during that span.
Having said that, Keenum doesn't exactly strike fear in most defenses. The 35-year-old has only started four games since the beginning of the 2020 campaign, averaging just 186.3 passing yards with four TDs to two INTs. He looked decent at times in the win over the Tennessee Titans last week, but it's worth noting that he did finish with two turnovers.
Unfortunately for Keenum, Cleveland isn't a quarterback-friendly team.
For starters, the Browns have the fewest passing yards on the worst completion percentage. They're also tied for the sixth-most QB knockdowns and eighth-most sacks while applying pressure on 25.9% of dropbacks (5th-most).
Considering how Keenum has 75 giveaways (49 INTs, 26 fumbles lost) in 79 career appearances, there's a strong chance that he'll struggle against the Browns' non-stop onslaught.
Additionally, oddsmakers are feeling good about the Browns' chances of victory. With Stroud set to miss Week 16, Cleveland is the 2.5-point favorite over Houston. That's quite the shift since the line opened with the Browns as underdogs. Clearly, Stroud's absence is projected to have a massive impact on how this one plays out.
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