The Cleveland Browns ended their 17 game losing streak in addition to their 13-game opening day losing streak. To bad it wasn’t with a victory.
Week two provides the Browns a very difficult challenge to earn that first win since Christmas Eve 2016. Cleveland travels to the ‘Big Easy’ to face Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. It sounds like an impossible task, but since 1999, the Browns have had lots of success at the Superdome.
The first win of the current Browns era happened in New Orleans. Tim Couch throws a ‘Hail Mary’ touchdown to Kevin Johnson on Halloween 1999. In 2010, the Eric Mangini led Browns pulled off a huge upset of the reigning Super Bowl champion Saints at the Superdome.
Cleveland holds a 13-4 series advantage over New Orleans. In addition, the Browns have won eight of ten meetings against the Saints on the road.
There will be plenty of matchups to watch. Myles Garrett has the opportunity to record a sack against a future Hall of Fame quarterback for a second week in a row. Garrett took down Ben Roethlisberger in week one. Brees is next.
“Going against two Hall of Famers back to back, it puts a smile on my face because you grow up watching these guys, but obviously, getting an opportunity to hopefully introduce myself to him, as well, on the field. You have to make sure that he can’t step up,” Garrett said. “He has a tendency to set back pretty deep and then step up into the pocket and make those throws when he is going deep or he is going to be for sitting in the pocket and make those throws quickly at different angles With those shorter guys, you try to bat the ball down. He has been doing it well for many years so it is not as easy as I put it.”
Ohio State Buckeyes fans will have plenty of reasons to watch this game. There is plenty of scarlet and gray alumni on both sides of the football. One of the biggest matchups will feature the reigning NFL rookie of the week, the Browns Denzel Ward against the Saints number one wide receiver Michael Thomas. Which former Buckeye will have the bragging rights after Sunday’s game?
“I went against receivers like him in college and I will in the league so the size does not really make a difference to me,” Ward said. “It does not really matter who I go against so I am looking forward to that matchup.”
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“He is a very dynamic receiver,” safety Jabrill Peppers said. “Denzel saw him for a couple of years when they were at ‘that school’ (laughter). He definitely poses match-up problems, but we have guys that can match up with him.”
Other former Buckeyes who will key contributors in Sunday’s game are cornerback Marshon Lattimore and wide receiver Ted Ginn Junior for the Saints in addition to running back Carlos Hyde for the Browns. Lattimore and Ginn are Cleveland natives. Will we see an O-H-I-O and some jersey trades after the game?
The Browns defense will have a difficult task trying to slow down Brees, Thomas and the Saints offense. The passing game is one of the best in the NFL. Second year running back Alvin Kamara is huge reason why. The dual threat runner and receiver has to be held in check for the Browns to earn win number one of 2018.
“You just have to rally to the ball,” Peppers said. “The more hats to the ball, the better. He is a guy who can make guys miss in space coming out of the backfield or even lining up at receiver. He is definitely a guy that you have to keep a couple of eyes on.”
The Browns will be without key guys on both sides of the football. Defensive End Emmanuel Ogbah is out with an ankle injury. Linebacker Christian Kirksey is out due to shoulder and ankle injuries. Wide receiver Josh Gordon will miss the game due to a hamstring injury.
The Gordon injury means Jarvis Landry will be the number one target for quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Landry will have plenty to play for Sunday. Landry played his college football at Louisiana State University. He’ll have plenty of support in the Superdome on Sunday.
“It is huge, obviously. We just want to win one game and take it like that,” Landry said. “For the most part, all of them are huge for us. Every last one of them. No matter who we are playing, no matter what the team has, previous record was or their past history, every game is big for the Cleveland Browns organization.”
Cleveland is a nine point underdog. Fox sports will broadcast the game. Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston and Laura Okmin will call the game.
Scott Piker is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Browns. So follow him on twitter @ScottPikerSport