While predicting who will win games in the NFL is difficult, predicting breakout stars is often just a guess and trying to pinpoint important decisions can be a struggle, some predictions are fun and some are actually easy.
Watching the NFL, and the Cleveland Browns particularly, for years has given us the ability to look forward and have a feel for what the discussion will be tonight and tomorrow. Can Preseason football give us a feel for what we will see on the field?
While pointless, predictions are fun. So here are a few for you this morning:
Early Play Call
Unless there is a turnover or big special teams return, the Browns will throw a deep ball to Terrelle Pryor within the first 3 or 4 plays. Not the most surprising prediction, since that has been an early play in Preseason games. I expect the Browns will run the ball a ton in this game but using a 9 route toss to Pryor, with a Robert Griffin III #FlickOfTheWrist, can open that up.
Crow is a Star
I expect the Browns to run the ball a ton and for Isaiah Crowell to get much of that action, including a screen or two. Hue Jackson likes to do the opposite of what people expect so we will see Duke Johnson between the tackles and Crow getting touches on the outside. Leaving Week 1, Crowell will be a popular fantasy guy. Two TDs and over 125 total yards for Crow seems reasonable.
Expect a huge overreaction to both starting QBs after the game. Rookie Carson Wentz and RG3 will either be pushed up or down at a very strong level. If Wentz looks bad, "the Browns proved they were right." If Wentz looks good, even as limitedly good as Trevor Siemian looked on Thursday, "the Eagles made the right choice and they have their QB of the Future."
For Griff, some will see this as his return game if he is good but if he isn't, some will want to bury him. At least with his history, there is a base for statements to be made. While Wentz will be putting his first marks in his NFL book, RG3 (just 2 years older) has years to build narratives around. Many will use them to find their point.
Local Media Will Dump on the Team
Whether the Browns win or lose, there will at least be one, probably more, from the local media who will dump all over the team. "It was a rookie QB." "They got by on gimmicks." "Griffin won't survive." "Can't win with that defense in the AFC North." "Have to run the ball more." "Should run a 4-3." "Need a better fullback, did you see the Denver FB get a score?"
Expect that, even with a win. A loss will be much worse. Body language experts will come out. Judgements about the draft class and the inexperienced Front Office. After a loss you can expect a "sky is falling" response from media, even though it is Week 1 of a 2 to 3 year process.
On both sides of the ball, and both good and bad, expect a lot of big plays today. The Browns will make a lot of mistakes on both sides of the ball, leading to a turnover or two and big plays from the Philly offense. They will also apply a ton of pressure with their offensive scheming and their defensive speed and pressure.
While the Front 7 may not get a ton of sacks, expect a lot of QB hits leading to some bad throws. The offense might sputter at times but when Jackson and Griffin get it clicking, they will light up the field and get Browns fans excited about what could be.
A Browns Win
I am predicting a Browns win. At the base level, I trust Hue Jackson more than Doug Pederson. The Browns will make mistakes but they will do so going at 100 MPH and will do so fully bought in to what the Browns want to do. Jackson is a leader, something that is hard to define but is clear to see. This won't lead to tons of wins this season but it will lead to a team fully committed to their coach.
This week, Jackson's coaching abilities and the offensive skill and defensive speed will lead to a victory.
Browns 28 Eagles 24
What are your predictions for today?null