In battle of depleted defenses, Browns look to hand Jaguars 10th straight loss


CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – The Browns and Jaguars square off Sunday in Jacksonville in a battle of depleted defenses.

Both teams lost starters this week due to injury or the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Cleveland’s 7-3 record is its best after 10 games since starting 8-2 in 1994 under Bill Belichick as the Browns, who are trying to end the NFL’s longest playoff drought – 18 years, are currently the No. 6 seed in the AFC.

The Jaguars have lost nine consecutive games, tied for the longest, single-season skid in franchise history.

What to watch for – For the first time in three games, weather shouldn’t be a factor for the Browns with light winds, cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-70’s expected.

The Browns are down their two best defensive players in defensive end Myles Garrett – on the reserve/COVID-19 list and cornerback Denzel Ward – sidelined with a calf injury as well as starting linebacker Sione Takitaki on reserve/COVID-19.

Defensive end Olivier Vernon stepped up in Garrett’s absence and had his best game as a Brown last week and had three sacks, including one for his first career safety.

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, who has been limited by mother nature in recent games, hopes to break out with a big game Sunday with Cleveland possessing the 30th ranked pass offense. Mayfield has not thrown an interception in three games, tied for his career best.

Running back Nick Chubb has consecutive 100-yard games after missing four with a sprained knee. Chubb’s 15 100-yard games since 2018, ties him with Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott for the league lead and his eight rushes of more than 20 yards this season also leads the NFL.

Fellow back Kareem Hunt, who is averaging 4.4 yards per carry this season, leads the Browns with eight touchdowns – four receiving and four rushing. The team is 8-1 since he signed in 2019 when he scores a touchdown.

Receiver Jarvis Landry, who leads the Browns with 38 catches for 478 yards, has caught at least two passes in 105 consecutive games, the league’s longest current streak but he has yet to score a touchdown in 2020.

Jacksonville placed three defensive starters – defensive end Josh Allen, cornerback D.J. Hayden and safety Daniel Thomas – on injured reserve this week. The already-depleted unit also will be without three coaches — defensive coordinator Todd Wash, D-line coach Jason Rebrovich and assistant Dwayne Stukes — because of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

Mike Glennon makes his first start since Week 4 in 2017 at quarterback for the Jaguars Sunday. Glennon replaces rookie Jake Luton, who threw four interceptions in a lopsided loss to unbeaten Pittsburgh last week.

Jaguars running back James Robinson might be their best offensive weapon. He has at least 90 yards from scrimmage in four straight games. He leads all rookies in rushing yards (762) and scrimmage yards (1,011). He’s the fifth undrafted rookie to top 1,000 yards from scrimmage in the modern draft era, joining Phillip Lindsay (2018), LeGarrette Blount (2010), Dominic Rhodes (2001) and Clark Gaines (1976).

Last Week – Browns beat Eagles 22-17; Jaguars lost to Steelers 27-3

The last time – Nov. 19, 2017: Jaguars 19, Browns 7

Series history – Jaguars lead 12-5

Rankings – AP PRO32 Ranking: Browns No. 14; Jaguars No. 31

Points per game: Browns 18T (23.8); Jaguars 28 (20.20)

Total yards per game: Browns 23 (345.4); Jaguars 27 (327.0)

Rushing yards per game: Browns 3 (156.8); Jaguars 28 (97.3)

Passing yards per game: Browns 30 (188.6); Jaguars 22 (229.7)

Points allowed per game: Browns 19 (26.1); Jaguars 30 (29.8)

Total defensive yards allowed per game: Browns 14 (352.9); Jaguars 30 (411.3)

Rushing yards allowed per game: Browns 8 (105.0); Jaguars 24 (129.1)

Passing yards allowed per game: Browns 21 (247.9); Jaguars 29 (282.2)

Turnover ratio: Browns 4T (+6); Jaguars 28T (-6)

Probable starters for Browns – Offense: WR Jarvis Landry, LT Jedrick Wills Jr., LG Joel Bitonio, C JC Tretter, RG Wyatt Teller, RT Jack Conklin, TE Austin Hooper, WR Rashard Higgins., QB Baker Mayfield, RB Nick Chubb, TE Harrison Bryant

Defense: DE Adrian Clayborn, DT Sheldon Richardson, DT Larry Ogunjobi, DE Olivier Vernon, WILL Mack Wilson, MIKE B.J. Goodson, CB Kevin Johnson, CB Terrance Mitchell, SS Ronnie Harrison, FS Andrew Sendejo, DB Tavierre Thomas

Injury report – OUT: CB Denzel Ward (calf), S Sheldrick Redwine (knee); QUESTIONABLE: S Andrew Sendejo (groin), C Nick Narris (ankle); EXPECTED TO PLAY: DT Larry Ogunjobi (ankle), S Jovante Moffatt (illness), LT Jedrick Wills (illness), RT Jack Conklin (knee), S Ronnie Harrison Jr. (knee), RG Wyatt Teller (calf), C JC Tretter (knee), CB Kevin Johnson (finger), WR Jarvis Landry (hip)

Uniforms – White jerseys, white pants

Broadcast – Radio: 92.3 The Fan, 98.5 WNCX and the University Hospitals Cleveland Browns radio network. TV: WOIO 19 (CBS)

Kickoff – 1:03 p.m. TIAA Bank Field – Jacksonville, Florida

Our prediction – Browns 34, Jaguars 20

Our prediction record – 7-3