The winless Cleveland Browns host the San Diego Chargers this Saturday in their final home game of the season. Standing at 0-14, the Browns have only two more chances to avoid the infamy of 0-16. And with a Week 17 visit to Pittsburgh looming in the distance, this may be the Browns’ last true chance at a solid win. The Chargers will arrive in Cleveland at a comparatively good 5-9, but have lost three straight after a 21-13 win in Houston. But after three losses in a row, the Browns just might be able to stun San Diego and move to 1-14 the Saturday. These are the Cleveland Browns Week 16 Keys To Victory.
Cleveland Browns Week 16 Keys To Victory
Slow Down The Passing Game
Browns Week 16 keys begin and end with defense. San Diego’s passing offense is, at its best, an absolute force. Quarterback Philip Rivers leads the eighth-ranked Charger passing attack, completing 61.5% of his passes this year. In addition, wide receiver Travis Benjamin will likely look to score all over his old Cleveland teammates. Coming in with the 15th ranked defense in the league, the Browns have greatly improved defensively since being ranked 31st. The defense will need to take another leap in efficiency if they hope to slow Rivers and his receiving corps. If the secondary can hold its own, defensive players like Emmanuel Ogbah and Danny Shelton will need to step up. If they shut down the pass, San Diego’s 26th-ranked rush offense will need to fend for itself.
Protect Your Quarterback(s)
Outside of Pro Bowler Joe Thomas, Cleveland’s offensive line is simply appalling. Sporting a league-worst -31 sack differential, opposing defenses have demolished Browns quarterbacks this year. The offensive line play has forced the Browns to use four quarterbacks this season. Now, former rookie sensation turned Browns starter Robert Griffin, III will (once again) look to recreate his magic from 2012. Although RGIII is a mobile quarterback, he is also incredibly fragile. Griffin will likely make a few plays with his legs, but he’s going to need at least decent protection.
Sadly, the solution is not as simple as playing five versions of Joe Thomas all across the line. Center Cameron Erving is bad at best, and the line took a huge hit with the offseason losses of Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz, and the injury of John Greco. Despite all these losses, the Browns will have to overcome and be able to protect RGIII. If the offensive line plays well, this opens the door for the final, and possibly most important key.
Exploit Their Pass Defense
Isaiah Crowell has been running the ball very well, especially considering the line he has in front of him. However, San Diego is 22nd in pass defense. This must be exploited if the Browns want to come away with the win. If the offensive line can give RGIII some standard protection, the receivers should be able to handle the Chargers’ secondary. The “x factor” lies in the question of getting the ball to the receivers. Players like Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman have shown flashes of playmaking ability, and the Browns must trust them against this defense. If the Browns can bust the passing game open, they should be able to bust the game itself open, and stun the Chargers as a Christmas gift to Clevelanders.
The Results (Hopefully)
If the Browns follow these simple keys, they should be able to sneak out a win on Saturday and avoid a winless season. Another heavy advantage the Browns have is home field advantage this week. The Chargers are traveling across the country in order to face Cleveland. If the Browns can keep San Diego off their rhythm, they need to capitalize on unforced errors. With a turnover differential that is less than stellar, the Browns will otherwise have to rely defensively on the Chargers beating themselves. If Cleveland can force at least one turnover, they will be able to score on the Chargers, provided their receivers can make some plays. There are a lot of variables to this game, but the Browns should stay confident that they can beat this team. It might just be their last good chance.
Will Cleveland follow the Browns Week 16 Keys To Victory? We’ll see on Saturday afternoon.