Cleveland Browns Game Preview: Week 13 at Houston Texans

Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans Logos
Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans Logos

The Cleveland Browns hope to extend their win streak to three in a row. The Browns also hope to end the Houston Texans eight game win streak in the process. Sunday’s meeting at NRG Stadium in Houston is shaping up to be one of the more intriguing games on the week 13 schedule in the NFL.

Two positions to watch are quarterback and defensive end. Baker Mayfield of the Browns and Deshaun Watson of the Texans could both have career days throwing the football.

Myles Garrett of the Browns and J.J. Watt of the Texans are near the top of leader board in sacks in 2018. Both pass rushers should be easy selections to the Pro Bowl in January.

So how will the Browns be able to stop or at least contain the Texans leaders on offense and defense? It will be a tough task but one they look forward to tackling.

Watson had a terrific game against the Browns in 2017. Three touchdown passes en-route to a 33-17 win. People looked at the performance as revenge for the Browns trading away the pick to Houston. Watson does not feel that way.

“No, I am just focused on my career and what I can do down here in Houston,” Watson said. “I am comfortable with everything that is going down in this organization and this city. I am in a happy spot.”

Watson will rely on his two veteran wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas. Both will present challenges to Denzel Ward, Jabrill Peppers and the Browns secondary.

“Just going against all of the top receivers in the league I look forward to,” Ward said. “Hopkins is definitely one of those guys that is one of the top players at his position. I love going up against guys like that.”

Houston’s running game continues to improve in 2018. Lamar Miller is coming off a season best performance against the Tennessee Titans. The Browns run defense is improving but will face another tough test on Sunday.

“They do what they do well,” Peppers said. “They are more of a stretch team with guys out the gaps and cut it up. Lamar and (Alfred) Blue are making guys miss tackles. Missed tackles leads to explosive plays so you definitely have to wrap both these cats up, have gap integrity and play stout against the run.”

“You watch the plays, [Miller] is hitting the hole and he is hitting it fast and violent,” Joe Schobert said “He is breaking arm tackles.”

Watt and Garrett will both look to record sacks of Mayfield and Watson respectively. Garrett enters Sunday’s game trailing Watt in sacks. That’s all the motivation he needs this week.

“I want to be the best player that I can be every week,” Garrett said. “I feel like that is who I put on film. It just depends on what I do. He is up there, but if I were to pass him, who is next? You have to keep on trying to exceed yourself. One of the best defensive linemen of this decade. That is it. You have to prove it every week, just like everybody else.”

Mayfield is also looking forward to going up against Watson and Watt. The NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month will do everything possible to stay with Watson statistically and stay away from Watt physically.

“Deshaun is an incredible quarterback, an incredible athlete and a great leader,” Mayfield said. “I played against him in the playoffs in 2015. Just from someone who has seen it in person, you could see all of this coming. The success he has had has been fun to watch. He is a good guy so he is playing at a very high level – a huge reason why they have won eight games in a row. It is always great to play great competition and you always look forward to that.”

“I have not played (Watt) yet, so … From film, yes. Somebody that athletic, that strong, that smart and a huge leader for that defense and that team, yes, it will be a big challenge, but that is something I look forward to.”

There is even more reason for Mayfield to play well inside NRG Stadium. It’s the first time Mayfield will start an NFL game in his home state of Texas.

“I will get to see a lot of family and friends,” Mayfield said. “I am looking forward to it, but I have to treat it like any other game. As soon as I let emotions or outside stuff distract me from the real game, that is when I make mistakes.”

Cleveland is a five and half point underdog to the Texans. The game will be broadcast by CBS Sports. Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Bruce Arians and Melanie Collins will call the game.

Scott Piker is the Cleveland BrownsCleveland Cavaliers and Cleveland Indians Managing Editor for Full Press So follow him on twitter @ScottPikerSport

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