This week’s contest between the Packers and the Browns has “trap game” written all over it. Cleveland hasn’t won a game this season, but could easily take out the Packers this week if Hundley has a bad game. Green Bay is coming off a win in OT and sits 2 games back of the Wild Card sport. They hold the tie breaker over the Seahawks and they play the Panthers next week. If the Packers can win this game, then they have a realistic shot of getting their franchise QB back for next week’s game. Aaron Rodgers is running the scout team this week in practices and has looked good in warmups. If he can come back, the Packers will be the team that nobody wants to face. Kickoff inside FirstEnergy Stadium is at 1 PM ET.
These two teams have played 4 times since 2001 and the Packers hold a 3-1 record during that span. The last time these two teams played was in 2013 and the Packers won 31-13. The last time they faced off in Cleveland was 2009 and the Packers won that game 31-3. The Packers are 7-3 against the Browns dating all the way back to 1972.
Green Bay (6-6) is 2-3 on the road and is coming off a hard fought victory over the Buccaneers in over time. The win kept their post season hopes alive. In reality, they will need to win out and get a little help along the way. Right now, they’re looking up at teams like the Panthers, Seahawks, Falcons and Lions. However, they still play the Panthers and Lions. Unfortunately, they did lose to the Atlanta earlier in the season, but that might not matter as the Falcons have a tough final 4 games. The key to this week’s matchup is urgency. If the Packers can play like the desperate team then they should win in Cleveland.
The Browns (0-12) are 0-6 at home and just loss to the Chargers 19-10. Looking over their last 5 losses, that 9 point loss was the closest margin of defeat. This week, they do have a decent chance against the Packers largely due to Green Bay’s inconsistent offense and shoddy QB play.
The spread opened with the Packers favored by 3.5 points and it remains unchanged. The Over/Under opened at 41 points and it has come down slightly to 40.5 total points.
For the Packers to win this game, they will need to do 2 things: dominate the Browns with their running backs and bring a lot of pressure on defense. With a 1-2 combo of Williams and Jones, the Packers have a credible tandem that can break runs anytime they get the ball. Last weekend, Aaron Jones returned from a knee injury to find himself as the backup. His lone carry was in OT and he busted it for 20 yards to win the game. He’s still the leading rusher on the team for the season.
Williams has over 400 total yards since he took over for Jones about 3 ½ games ago. He’s carried the Packers offense the last few weeks and almost led them to victory over the Steelers two weeks ago. Now, the Browns are stingy against the run as they allow only 96 ypg. But, with the tandem of Williams and Jones both running and catching out of the backfield, I believe they will be the difference makers this week.
And they will have to be, because Hundley is too inconsistent. One week he plays well and the next week he regresses. Case in point, he does well against the Steelers two weeks ago, but then he only throws for 84 yards against the Buccaneers.
The Packers defense will need to get after Browns QB Kizer or anyone else they put out there. If they can do that, then the will create turnovers and shorter fields for the offense. I believe that the Packers will play solid football on defense this week, especially since they know that Rodgers will return next week and they’re still in the hunt.
Cleveland is 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games, 4-16-1 ATS in their last 21 home games and 3-8 ATS as an Underdog this season. The Packers are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games during December.
I expect the Packers to win this game by more than a TD and it’s equally due to their success and mistakes by the Browns. I see GB causing 2+ turnovers this game and controlling the flow of the game on offense with their running backs. Look for Jones and Williams to surpass 150 total yards and 2 TD’s this week. Also, this will open up the play action for Hundley and I can see them connecting deep on this at least once in this game. Look for Adams to have a high volume day and for Nelson to move the chains. Packers win 20-13.