The Cleveland Browns play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in a crucial showdown from FirstEnergy Stadium. The Buccaneers come in clinging to hope when it comes to the NFC playoff race and the NFC South standings, especially as they look for their third-straight win. For the Browns, their postseason hopes might be dashed for 2022/2023, and they'll be looking to snap a two-game skid in their own right. These two haven't met since 2018 and with both sides looking quite a bit different than they did then, this could be an interesting showdown.
Buccs Look To Extend Winning StreakTampa Bay had a slow start to the year and even though they only find themselves sitting at .500, momentum seems to be trending back in the right direction for this group. Wins against the Seahawks and Rams haven't come easy over the last few weeks, with the more pressing concern being how this team translates that success over to the road. With a 2-2 record away from home this season, this team knows that a game like Sunday's is one that they have to take advantage of. With the weather looking dreary, all eyes will be on how Brady and company can overcome less-than-ideal conditions yet come out on top anyway.
The Buccaneers have a few injuries of their own to worry about as they head into this one. At running back, Leonard Fournette (hip) and Giovanni Bernard (ankle) are both questionable for the weekend, while Russell Gage (hamstring) is doubtful at wide receiver. (edit: Fournette is now out). On the defensive side of things, Shaq Barrett (Achilles) continues to be a massive miss, while Vita Vea (foot) is questionable himself.
Thankful for another day to get better 🤟#GoBucs— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) November 24, 2022
Tampa Bay's defense leads the way but with the offense struggling of late, they'll need to find a way to exert their will in this one. The biggest concern is the lack of ground game, where they rank 32nd in the league in rushing. With Fournette potentially out and the offensive line remaining in shambles, matching Cleveland's ability to control the clock seems problematic. It might not matter if Tom Brady can continue to connect with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in the passing game though. Turning drives and big plays into points has been tough for this group and they'll need to be efficient with their scoring in this one.
Browns Aim To Spring UpsetThe Browns are sitting at 3-7 as they head into this and a close loss last week has them searching for a better result in this one. They only have one win in their last seven games, blowing out the Bengals at home, though it remains to be seen how this group will perform with their playoff hopes almost completely dashed. The Buccanneers aren't going to make things easy for the home team but the Browns have the ground game to set the tone in this one. With Deshaun Watson's return on the horizon as well, it'll be interesting to see how the team and fans handle the buzz this anticipated change will come with.
It hasn't helped Cleveland this season that their injury report continues to grow longer and longer. On the offensive side of things, David Njoku (ankle) might make his return, though the offensive line continues to be a rotating door of players. The defensive injuries are more of a concern though, especially against Tampa Bay. Greg Newsome II (head) might make his return though, while Perrion Winfrey (illness) is likely to make his return in the pass rush.
There's no doubt that fans can expect a heavy dose of the running game to start this one off. Nick Chubb (92.3 yards per game, 11 touchdowns) has been one of the best in the league this year and if he can get going early, it'll allow the Browns to control the clock. Jacoby Brissett (11 touchdowns, 5 interceptions) has filled in well himself and there's no doubt that he can be counted on to take care of the ball and make some big plays. This will be his last start coming with Deshaun Watson returning from his suspension next week. Amari Cooper remains dangerous, but the emergence of Donovan Peoples-Jones continues to give this group plenty of options to turn to.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Browns might have the advantage of being the home team but the Buccaneers are surging and with confidence building, shouldn't have any issues coming away with the win in this one. The Buccaneers have had issues running the ball this season but with the depth of their wide receiver room, as well as having Brady at quarterback, they will be able to carve up Cleveland's injury-riddled secondary in this one. The Browns will be too reliant on the ground game in this one but with their own offensive lines woes, Tampa Bay's pass rush will be too much for them to overcome. Additionally, according to covers.com, Tampa Bay is 3-0-1 ATS in their last four games in November, while they also are 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings between these two teams.
Full-Game Total Pick
This expects to be a low-scoring affair, especially with the Browns being at home and being able to control the ground game. Cleveland's offense is based on getting Chubb going early and often, so expect them to try to grind out possessions in this one. For Tampa Bay, they have the worst rushing attack in the league but are likely to try to establish it early anyway. With a low-scoring first half expected, a grind-it-out style in the second half for Cleveland, won't lead to Tampa Bay scoring enough to drive the score high. Additionally, according to covers.com, the under is 4-0 in Tampa Bay's last four road games, as well as being 5-0 in the last five meetings between these two teams.