Falcons dominate the turnover battle
The Cleveland defense has not been anything to write home about, especially over the last four weeks. However, you might not know that they lead the league in turnover differential at +11. That is due in large part to their league-leading 23 turnovers forced.
The Falcons, on the other hand, have been the best at protecting the ball, turning it over 5 times all year. That is something I do not expect to change on Sunday unless the Browns can find a way to force a few fumbles. Matt Ryan just does not throw many intercept-able passes. The three interceptions he has thrown this season can all be attributed to miscues by other players.
What Atlanta has struggled with is forcing turnovers. That’s something that will change on Sunday. They have only come up with 8 turnovers all season, but the defense is definitely showing signs of improvement overall. This will be the weekend we see the Falcons take advantage of some miscues by the Browns and put the offense in favorable situations.
The Total cruises past the Over
Vegas set the over at this one for 51, pretty damn high for a game involving the Cleveland Browns. Nonetheless, I expect this total to cruise past that number, making “over” bettors very happy.
The Falcons offense is getting to that point where it cannot be stopped, it can only be slowed down. The Browns haven’t been one to slow down anyone lately, allowing 33.5 points per game over the last four weeks. It would shock me if the Falcons didn’t reach 28 points, and they could easily flirt with 40 the way they are playing.
On defense, Atlanta has not been the mess recently that they have been all year. However, Duke Johnson Jr. and Jarvis Landry will give the middle of the field fits at times in this one. With Cleveland needing to keep pace in order to win, they will be throwing early and often. The Browns should be good for at least 20 if not more, which will allow the total to reach number. Take the over in this one.
Baker Mayfield tosses for 350 yards
If the Browns are going to stay in this one, they are going to have to score a lot of points. Mayfield looked much better under new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, throwing for nearly 300 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Chiefs.
A lot of those yards came from easy dump offs to the running backs like Duke Johnson Jr., who caught the ball 9 times for 78 yards and 2 touchdowns. Johnson is exactly the type of receiving threat the Falcons have struggled with all season. Kitchens will be able to come up with some easy completions, allowing Mayfield to get comfortable against a vulnerable Falcons defense.
I am aware Atlanta’s defense has looked much improved over the last two weeks, but they were not exactly facing high-quality offenses. Even the Browns have a better offense than the Giants and the Redskins. This is a unit that can still be taken advantage of, and Mayfield will do just that, recording the first 350-yard passing game of his career.