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Playoffs Game Day: Texans vs Browns- Wildcard

Texansballer74

The Marine


Houston Texans vs. Cleveland Browns Playoff Preview: C.J. Stroud Is Saturday's Wild Card
The Houston Texans will once again host the Cleveland Browns, this time with true win-or-go-home implications. Can quarterback C.J. Stroud move the needle on Saturday?
The Houston Texans have defeated all odds to make the playoffs, but they’ll be the first to tell you that they aren’t satisfied. They didn’t get this far just to get this far.


Both the Cleveland Browns (11-6) and Houston Texans (10-7) climbed out of last-place division finishes in 2022 to reach double-digit wins and a postseason appearance in 2023. The Texans even completed the climb out of the basement to the penthouse, going from worst to first in the AFC South in the span of a year, which is why this matchup will be played in Houston, Texas on Saturday.
The Browns' presence in this game may be even more impressive than a Texans team that won seven more games than they did in 2022, the biggest wins improvement of the 2023 season. Cleveland is the first team since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger to play in a playoff game without their Week 1 starting quarterback (Deshaun Watson), running back (Nick Chubb), left tackle (Jack Conklin) and right tackle (Jedrick Wills). A whopping 27% of the Browns salary cap is on injured reserve, the highest among playoff teams.

The most notable Browns players on injured reserve include QB Deshaun Watson, RB Nick Chubb, OT Jack Conklin, OT Jedrick Wills Jr., OT Dawand Jones and S Grant Delpit. They're the first playoff team since 1970 NFL/AFL merger without its Week 1 starting QB, RB, LT and RT
The Texans can certainly thank the Browns for helping them become their Super Wild Card Weekend opponent since Houston's deal that sent former quarterback Deshaun Watson to Cleveland landed it the best rookie edge rusher: 2023 third overall pick Will Anderson Jr. His 59 quarterback pressures are the third most by a rookie in the last five seasons, trailing 2021 Micah Parsons (67) and 2019 Nick Bosa (80).

Here's a look at the Texans' haul from the Watson trade (players and eventual results of picks acquired:
  • DE Will Anderson Jr.
  • WR Tank Dell
  • G Kenyon Green
  • LB Christian Harris
  • RB Dameon Pierce
  • WR John Metchie III
  • DE Thomas Booker
  • S Brandon Hill
  • WR Xavier Hutchinson
  • 2024 first-round pick
  • 2024 third-round pick
*The Browns traded three first-round picks -- a third, and two fourth-round picks for Deshaun Watson.

This game is a rematch of a Week 16 showdown in the exact same venue down in Houston, one the Browns triumphed in 36-22. It's worth nothing a couple things about that game: NFLOffensive Rookie of the Year favorite and Houston Texans starting quarterback C.J. Stroud didn't play because of a concussion, and Browns Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper went nuclear with 265 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns on 11 catches. Those 265 yards set the Browns' single-game record and stood as the most in a game in the 2023 season.

Stroud's absence was obviously critical as the rookie is already the third player in the last 50 seasons to lead the NFL outright in passing yards per game (273.9) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (minimum 10 starts) along with Hall of Famer Joe Montana (1989) and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady (2007).

How will the postseason opener unfold? We've got you covered.

How to watch
Date: Saturday, Jan. 13 | Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Location: NRG Stadium (Houston, Texas)
TV: NBC | Stream: fubo (try for free)
Follow: CBS Sports App
Odds: Browns -2.5, O/U 44.5 (SportsLine consensus odds)
 

Thorn

Dirty Old Man
The fact the Texans are in the playoffs still amazes me, considering where we were after last season. Since the hiring of DeMeco and the drafting of Stroud and Anderson, the Texans are relevant again. For now, I'm not asking for anything more. Next season though, I'll be expecting a lot.

Go frigging Texans! :logo:
 

corry

Waterboy
Nothing has changed for the Browns since our last meeting.

Texans are getting back Will Anderson, Greenard, Rankins, and most importantly CJ Stroud.

I expect CJ to play well. He has played in two bowl games(arguably his two best game ever) and 1 de facto NFL playoff game which is arguably his best game. History says he shows up today.
 

IDEXAN

Hall of Fame
Contributor's Club
The fact the Texans are in the playoffs still amazes me, considering where we were after last season. Since the hiring of DeMeco and the drafting of Stroud and Anderson, the Texans are relevant again. For now, I'm not asking for anything more. Next season though, I'll be expecting a lot.

Go frigging Texans! :logo:
Yes I totally second all of that because the Texans have in light years already exceeded the expectations of most of us, and that certainly includes this Texans fan.
 

Lucky

Ride, Captain, Ride!
Staff member
From Vic Tafur, The Athletic.

Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans (+2) | 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday, NBC

Here’s the money stat when it comes to picking playoff games, updated and shared to backslaps and free drinks every year: Quarterbacks making their first playoff start versus QBs who have playoff experience are 17-35-1 against the spread (32.7 percent) since 2002. (They are 17-36 straight up.) Flacco versus C.J. Stroud is the first of four such matchups this weekend, and Flacco has been very good to us. With a win Sunday, Flacco would surpass Tom Brady (seven) for most road playoff wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history.

Here’s the problem: Houston just got a look at Flacco three weeks ago, and though Amari Cooper torched them with 265 receiving yards, he is battling a heel injury. And the Texans were missing key defensive players in that 36-22 loss, including rookie dynamo Will Anderson Jr. The Texans also didn’t have Stroud (concussion) in that game, and while the Browns defense was elite at one point, there has been slippage on the road and late in the season. And the Browns’ pressure shouldn’t bother the rookie that much. Stroud did not throw an interception in 146 pressured pass attempts during the regular season, the most such attempts without a pick by any player since Aaron Rodgers in 2018 (159). We’re taking the home underdog.
 

Speedy

Former Yeller Dweller
Gotta keep Cooper from going off and the big plays from happening.
Gotta get pressure on Flacco.
Gotta get a run game going. Singletary averaged 4.9 YPC last game but only touched it 9 times.
Gotta keep penalties down.
Gotta play TACKLE football.
Gotta convert in the red zone against the worst red zone defense in the NFL.

GO TEXANS!!!!!!
 

Lucky

Ride, Captain, Ride!
Staff member
The Texans are a plus 10 in turnover margin. When winning the turnover battle, the Texans are 9-1. The Browns are a minus 9 in turnover margin. In games they lose the battle, they are 5-6.

Do not turn the ball over. A punt can be your friend. Force Flacco & Friends into turnovers. Sounds easy. Texans 23-21.
 

thunderkyss

Just win baby!!!
Staff member
Contributor's Club
Against the Titans & the Colts Demeco used the blitz more often to get pressure on the QB. We did get burned a couple of times. I hope he continues to timely use the blitz & not be overly concerned about those times we gave up big plays.
 

DocBar

Hall of Fame
Contributor's Club
NFL wild-card round playoff game picks, schedule, odds - ESPN
(5) Browns at (4) Texans
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET | NBC | Spread: CLE -2 (44.5)
What to watch for: The last time these two teams played, Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper finished with a team-record 265 receiving yards in Cleveland's 36-22 win. The Texans didn't have their starting quarterback, C.J. Stroud, who was in concussion protocol, and Case Keenum stepped in and threw two interceptions. The Texans have the utmost confidence that they can beat any team when they have Stroud, so expect this matchup to be much different now that he's healthy. -- DJ Bien-Aime
Bold prediction: The Browns will win the turnover battle for only the third time this season. This is the first playoff matchup since the 1970 merger featuring a team that committed the league's most turnovers (Cleveland, 37) against the team that committed the fewest (Houston, 14). The Browns have been emphasizing ball security in their building ahead of this matchup, so that should play in Cleveland's favor. -- Jake Trotter
EDITOR'S PICKS
Stat to know: Stroud's weakness is solving man coverage. While he has the highest QBR in the league against zone coverage (74), he ranks 27th against man (39). His QBR decline of 35.1 is the largest from zone to man coverage this season. This weekend, Stroud will face a Browns defense that runs man coverage at the 10th-highest rate (47%) and has the best man defense in the league.
Matchup X factor: Browns cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Martin Emerson Jr. -- whenever they are lining up on Nico Collins. The Texans wideout had an incredible season, ranking second in yards per route run behind only Tyreek Hill. If the Browns' corners can shut him down on any given play, that seriously depletes Stroud's options. Emerson and Ward are good players, and this strength-on-strength matchup could decide the game. -- Walder
Game-plan key: I'm looking for the Browns to scheme some deep shots for quarterback Joe Flacco. He had five completions on passes thrown at least 20 yards downfield when Cleveland met Houston in Week 16. Can the Texans contain the Browns' vertical passing game? Read more at ESPN+. -- Bowen
Injuries: Browns | Texans
Officiating note: This game will feature two of the NFL's most penalized teams. The Browns were flagged 138 times, second most in the NFL, while the Texans were No. 5 with 132 flags. And Browns opponents were flagged 133 times, most in the league. However, referee Clay Martin's regular-season crew threw the fourth-fewest flags in the league at 12.4 per game. -- Seifert
Betting nugget: The Texans are 9-3 against the spread (ATS) in their past 12 meetings against the Browns.
 
Does anyone know if the Browns have a solution at the kicker position? This could end up being a key factor in a tight game.
The Browns will have Riley Patterson kick for them for a third straight game.
Patterson is one of Cleveland’s two elevations for Saturday’s wild card matchup against Houston.
The Browns’ regular kicker, Dustin Hopkins, is still recovering from a left hamstring injury suffered when the club beat the Texans on Dec. 24. He did not practice all week and was ruled out.
Patterson has made his one field goal attempt and is 6-of-7 on extra points in two games with the Browns.
He previously was with Detroit for 13 games this season, connecting on 15-of-17 field goals and 35-of-37 extra points.
 

Mangler

Toro de España
Nothing has changed for the Browns since our last meeting.

Texans are getting back Will Anderson, Greenard, Rankins, and most importantly CJ Stroud.

I expect CJ to play well. He has played in two bowl games(arguably his two best game ever) and 1 de facto NFL playoff game which is arguably his best game. History says he shows up today.
CJ has proven to be clutch, the defense just needs to hold their end of the deal. Slowik better put his big boy pants on today and show the rest of the league that he’s a legit HC candidate by calling a good offensive attack!
 

Bugman7star

All Pro
The defense doing their job today is going to be huge. The offense was very limited on Christmas Eve with Keenum and Mills. The offense runs differently when Stroud is in the game and it's not even close. I'm confident Stroud will move us up and down the field, we just have to cash in with TDs when in the red zone.
 

KA4Texan

10%
Contributor's Club
If I were going to the game, a bar full of gay drunk circus elephants would ask me to keep the noise down.

Instead Im going to work, hopefully my employer will not say the same.
 

corry

Waterboy
CJ has proven to be clutch, the defense just needs to hold their end of the deal. Slowik better put his big boy pants on today and show the rest of the league that he’s a legit HC candidate by calling a good offensive attack!
I just want to see if they can be more aggressive on first and second down.

No need to run and put yourself in 3rd in long if its not working.
 

NitroGSXR

Super Sic #58
Nothing has changed for the Browns since our last meeting.

Texans are getting back Will Anderson, Greenard, Rankins, and most importantly CJ Stroud.

I expect CJ to play well. He has played in two bowl games(arguably his two best game ever) and 1 de facto NFL playoff game which is arguably his best game. History says he shows up today.
A lot -has- changed. They’re a lot more banged up now. I believe they have three additional starters out this time.
 

TheRealJoker

Hall of Fame
Texans inactives:

DE Jerry Hughes
TE Eric Saubert
DT Teair Tart
OL Nick Broeker
*QB Case Keenum

Browns inactives:

K Dustin Hopkins
QB Jeff Driskel (3QB)
WR Cedric Tillman
RB Pierre Strong Jr.
CB Kahlef Hailassie
C Luke Wypler
DE Isaiah McGuire


 

KA4Texan

10%
Contributor's Club
Watching it on the fancy rooster stream. This is just odd.

They have the music playing and I feel like Im on hold.

And a sign saying coverage will return shortly
 

TejasTom

All Pro
We're about 30 mins earlier than most games. Worst traffic I've ever seen here.

Parking lots are jammed packed.

Teams warming up.
 

Pantherstang84

@rolisrgti06
Well according to the media, this game is just a formality. I feel like Demeco and the boys are going to shock the world. If the dline cant get to Flacco, I like our chances.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Arky

Veteran
I think the Browns might overlook Schultz. Could be a big game for him (or whoever is playing TE).
 


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