Game of the week: In-depth preview!
Here we are trying to help you guys win some more money with our game of the week score prediction contests. We thought we’d include a breakdown of our game of the week to perhaps help you guess the score a little more accurately so look out for this piece on a weekly basis!
BROWNS @ 49ERS
Where do we start? Well this is a Monday night matchup on the West coast that should you stay awake long enough, is well worth watching. The 49ers are surprisingly the only unbeaten team left in the NFC and the Browns sit atop the AFC North Division with a 2-2 record.
We’ll start by looking at the unbeaten Niners who have just come off the earliest possible week 4 bye so they should be extra fresh and prepared for this game. This team is a surprise to most and their defence is a massive improvement on what they were last year. They’ve pumped a lot of capital into their defensive line over recent years with players such as Deforest Buckner and Nick Bosa, it’s finally paying off as the 49ers rank 10th in sacks per game and are seeing consistent pressure applied to opposing passers.
In the back end they have seen major improvements and Richard Sherman is still playing at an elite level with only 8 catches allowed for under 50 yards. They only had one interception for the entire season in 2018 so the secondary is a major improvement in 2019. Another player that has stood out in the first three weeks is one of their big free agent acquisitions, Kwon Alexander, the speedy line-backer from the Buccaneers who came over on a 4-year- $54 million contract. He is proving to be a valuable player who can keep up with speedier running backs and is ranked as the 9th middle line-backer in the league by PFF.
Now we’ll look at who their facing on the Browns offense. People were split on the Browns this offseason. They either bought into the hype 100% or they doubted that they could have such a quick turnaround from that 0-16 team. Through the first couple of weeks it looked like Kitchens was treading water and couldn’t handle the pressures of being head coach. Baker Mayfield was also not trusting his offensive line and making very poor decisions. However, in week 4 they embarrassed the Ravens defence, which is one of the better units in the league, to the tune of 40 points.
After mentioning how good the 49ers defensive line is, we should talk about the offensive line of the Browns because they will be crucial in this matchup. Dee Ford and Nick Bosa should be salivating against the Browns tackles, who until last week were getting bullied and it wasn’t helped by Mayfield’s slow decision making. Bitonio and Tretter are playing well so that should eliminate the inside pressure, but the lack of quality tackle play could get to Baker again in week 5.
The Browns add in a new piece to the offensive machine this week, the previously suspended Antonio Callaway who flashed some talent last year, but it is not yet known how many snaps he’ll be getting in his first week back. The other receiving talent will have to work hard at getting open if their running on Sherman’s side of the field but with a bevy of different options the Browns should be able to find some open players throughout the night. We’ll see if the monstrous workhorse action was a one off for Chubb last week or whether we get to see it every week as Kareem hunt comes ever closer to being on the team. I think now that the offense is out of the early funk it was in, we will continue to see Chubb dominate as he is one of the most talented backs in the entire NFL. It’ll be interesting to see if the offense can keep up the pace it did in week 4 against another very good defence. If they can, then I think it’s safe to say we can buy into the Browns hype for the rest of the season.
Now if we look at the Browns defence, we could potentially say a lot of the same things we said of the 49ers. They’ve also put a lot into their defensive line with Oliver Vernon, Myles Garrett and Sheldon Richardson all having good seasons. Schobert is having a nice season at line-backer, but I bet their wishing they could have Jamie Collins back with the season that he’s having. Their top two corners, Ward and Williams didn’t play against the Ravens and it’s too early to say for this 49ers game but if they do then this will be a lot harder for Kyle Shanahan and Garoppolo. Ward and Williams are legit starting corners and could give the Niner’s some issues as their receivers aren’t the most talented bunch.
That’s the Browns defence in a nutshell, strong front 7 and a decent secondary even without their top two corners. In fact, if it wasn’t for a Derrick Henry screen play in week 1, they’d be one of the top pass defence units stat wise. So, let’s look at the juggernaut San Francisco offense. There was worry all preseason about Garoppolo as he showed a lot of struggles coming back from the torn ACL that side-lined him last year. He’s put those issues to rest and is quietly having a good season, come to think of it, they’ve put up 24, 31 and 41 points and I’ve heard very little about them and I listen to a lot of NFL content. Before their bye they had the 4th best offense in the league and could continue that against the Browns who, though solid, can give up some points.
Shanahan has a trio of talented running backs he can attack the Browns with. Breida, Mostert and Wilson have been helping Garoppolo when he needs them the most and Tevin Coleman is very close to making his return so look out for him if you play fantasy. We can’t talk about their offense without mentioning George Kittle. Last year he set the single season yardage record for a tight end and is having another extremely good season with a consistent QB each week. He is by far their best player and could give the Browns fits all night.
They’re starting Skule, a rookie, at left tackle and they’d better hope he’s improved over the bye because he’ll have his hands full with Myles Garrett this week. On the other side you have Mike McGlinchey who has struggled so far this season which isn’t promising against a premier rusher like Olivier Vernon. I think it’ll be a game with a lot of sacks for both teams as they are both particularly weak at tackle and very strong at edge rusher.
I wondered whether I should give a prediction but I think I will just so everyone can laugh at how wrong I am each week! So, without further ado here is my prediction for the week 5 GOTW, don’t forget to predict your score on the Facebook post for a chance to win and good luck!
49ers 34 – 30 Browns