When Cleveland drafted Johnny Manziel in last year’s NFL draft, many thought it was just a matter of time until Manziel would take over the starting role and lead the team to a super bowl. But Brian Hoyer, (one time back up to Tom Brady) has not only taken the starting job, he has also led his Browns to a division lead in one of the tougher divisions in all of football.
Houston has not been so lucky with their quarterback play. After benching Ryan Fitzpatrick before the Houston bye last week, the Texans have named Ryan Mallet (Also backed up Tom Brady) their starter despite very little game time experience. The quaterback guru that is Bill O’Brien will have his work cut out for him as his inexperienced quarterback will have to play against one of the tougher defenses in the AFC.
My pick: Cleveland
To me, there’s no doubt that Cleveland will win this game by a touchdown as long as Ryan Mallet is the starter for Sunday. It’s hard enough to win your first start in the NFL, and considering Cleveland has forced 12 turnovers in their last 4 games, it’s very little likely that this game on Sunday will be a feeding frenzy for Joe Haden and the Brown’s defense. Not to mention the fact that it will be snowy and loud in Cleveland. Snowy weather should favor the Brown’s, a team with a solidified ground game and a top 5 offensive line. Since Mallet is a pure pocket passer, he will have to rely on Arian Foster and Andre Johnson as well as his offensive line to give him a shot at sustaining offense in the wild weather. Mallet will also have to hope that his defense can force some turnovers against one of the most efficient offenses in the whole league.
Cleveland is 4-1 at home despite the complete lack of offensive weapons. Guys have just continued to step up from the deep Brown’s roster. Terrence West has only started in 3 games, but already has become the teams leading rusher. The offensive line has only given up 13 sacks all season. This will be the biggest problem for the Texans, who rank 21st in rushing defense and 29th in passing defense. They have also gave up a league high 19 plays of 30 yards or more. Although Houston leads the league in forcing turnovers, they will have to put plenty of pressure on Hoyer consistently if they hope for him to make some ill decisions.
It’s a tough week to bet the NFL, and when tough weeks come you need a few games that you feel confident enough to bet the house on. This is one of those picks. Cleveland is such a bad match up for Houston, I think Cleveland could win if Houston had 3 J.J. Watts and a healthy Jadeveon Clowney. In the battle of the Brady back ups, I think the Browns will cover the three points and beat the Texans, 24-13.