The Jacksonville Jaguars play host to the Cleveland Browns for some NFL preseason action Friday. The Jags are coming off a loss in the Hall of Fame game abasing the raiders 27-11 last Thursday. As for the Browns this isn’t quite the offseason they looked to have. The team has gigantic question marks all around it, mostly with their QB, but they look to put all that aside and play good football in their first game of the season. Here is my complete prediction and breakdown.
Suspension Starts Season Opener
The biggest story of the NFL offseason was DeShaun Watson. Baker Mayfield was always on the way out with the Browns, but what no one expected was for Cleveland to take a giant, unforgiving, swing at DeShaun Watson. I am not going to go into all the details about the Watson case and what it means just know that he is facing a 6-game suspension, which could turn into a year, but this doesn’t count for preseason games.
The Browns, for the third season now, are led by Head Coach Kevin Stefanski. The team went 3-0 SU during preseason last year and finished with a 8-9 record during the regular season. This was a pretty big letdown in terms of NFL storylines, but much of the Browns troubles can be ruled down to injuries. Whilst Mayfield probably isn’t the right quarterback for this team, you have to at least consider the fact he was playing hurt for majority of that season. According to reports Watson is expected to play this game, and from my opinion if you can’t play the first 6 games, and maybe the whole year, why not put in some decent time during preseason?
After Watson, the Brown depth chart at quarterback has Jacoby Brissett, Josh Dobbs, and Josh Rosen. Brissett played in 11 games last season for Miami and completed 62.7% of his passes, with five touchdowns and four interceptions. The biggest weakness for the Browns is in the wide receiver position, but we can hope that Watson plays enough snaps to get them to the end zone a few times.
Just the Jags
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a new Head Coach in Doug Pederson who looks to turn this around for this struggling franchise. Pederson complied a 42-37-1 regular season record and a 4-2 playoff record in five seasons with the Eagles, including a Super Bowl title and three overall playoff appearances. Pederson is 8-9 all-time in the preseason straight up after Jacksonvilles' Hall of Fame game loss.
In the Hall of Fame game, the Jaguars trailed 20-0 at the half against the Raiders, Committed the games only turnover and were outgained 321 to 273 in total yardage and 22 to 15 on first downs. QB, Kyle Slotter, an undrafted free agent who came out of Northern Colorado in 2016, went 13 for 25 with one touchdown pass and no interceptions. Jake Luton, who was a sixth-round pick in 2020, went 10 for 17 with 94 yards passing. Trever Lawrence didn’t play in the Hall of Fame game and its unknown wether he play in this one. If he does it will most likely only be for 1 or 2 possessions.
Making a Statement
Whilst I don’t have the inside scoop, I expect the Browns to come into this game with something to prove. And when I say the Browns, I mean DeShaun Watson. It is likely we may not see him all season, so this could be one of his only chances to show the league what he has. He missed the entire 2021 season so may be rusty, but I still believe he can pick apart this Jaguars defence, especially with 2nd and 3rd string guys on the Jacksonville side. The Jaguars Trevor Lawrence may not play in his game, and even if he does the Jags depth chart at that position is not as strong as what Cleveland has. The expectations are higher in Cleveland this season, and after going 3-0 last preseason, Kevin Stefanski seems like a coach who like to win preseason games. The line has flipped making the Browns the favorite, and I agree. Take Cleveland in this one.
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