It’s Week 2 of the NFL preseason with an interconference clash on the gridiron on the shores of Lake Erie. The Philadelphia Eagles are on the road as they make the trip to face the Cleveland Browns Sunday afternoon. Philadelphia opened the preseason with a last-second 24-21 loss to the Jets at home last Friday night in their preseason opener. Cleveland opened their preseason slate with a 24-13 road victory over Jacksonville last Friday night. In the all-time regular season series, the Browns own a 32-17-1 advantage, including a 22-17 home win in the most recent matchup on November 22, 2020. The most recent preseason matchup saw the Browns prevail in a barnburner, 5-0, at home on August 23, 2018.
Philadelphia Eagles Trying to Get Up to SpeedPhiladelphia hadn’t run a padded practice leading into their preseason opener and, while they seemed to be fresh, their second and third-stringers wilted with the game on the line against the Jets. As a result, their efforts to take a lead late in the fourth quarter went out the window. Philadelphia was sharp early, jumping to a 14-0 lead after the opening quarter. The Eagles were up 14-3 at the half only to trail 17-14 midway through the fourth quarter. Philadelphia mounted an 18-play, 75-yard drive capped by Kennedy Brooks’ two-yard scoring reception from Reid Sinnett to go up 21-17 with 1:40 to play. The Eagles then wilted, giving up a six-play, 53-yard scoring drive to give up the winning points with just 16 seconds to play. Philadelphia held a narrow 311-302 edge in total offense and a slim 30:52 to 29:08 margin in time of possession. Each team had 18 first downs and turned the ball over once in the contest.
Jalen Hurts is the clear-cut #1 QB on the depth chart and he was sharp, hitting six of six passes for 80 yards plus a score. Gardner Minshew II hit eight of 12 throws for 81 yards while adding three carries for 11 yards. Reid Sinnett seems destined to be the #3 QB or a practice squad guy, though he has completed 9 of 17 throws for 81 yards plus a score while adding three yards on the ground. Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott didn’t play much, so we saw Jason Huntley (16 carries, 48 yards, TD, four catches, 39 yards) and Kennedy Brooks (seven carries, 26 yards, catch, two yards, TD) shoulder the load in the run game. Zach Pascal (two catches, 41 yards), Jalen Reagor (three grabs, 26 yards), Deon Cain (reception, 14 yards) and Quez Watkins (two catches, 32 yards) are all looking to move up on the depth chart at receiver. Meanwhile, keep an eye on Noah Togiai (four grabs, 29 yards), Richard Rodgers (catch, six yards) and Jack Stoll (catch, six yards) as they try to solidify a spot on the tight end depth chart behind Dallas Goedert. One guy you can scratch off the list is JJ Arcega-Whiteside: he was dealt to Seattle in exchange for defensive back Ugo Amadi Monday.
Browns Looking to Work Past Off-Field DramaCleveland has had an offseason full of turmoil, both with making personnel moves that alienated their fan base and guys that are looking for a way out of town. The Browns traded for Deshaun Watson, gave him a five-year deal worth $230 million with it all guaranteed, and saw him handed a six-game suspension that the league appealed which turned into 11 games. Kareem Hunt made a trade request which the team rejected so there was plenty of stuff going on heading into the preseason opener. As it turned out, Cleveland had enough in the tank to beat a Jacksonville team that is still trying to find its way after trying to rebuild in the offseason with a lot of pricey free agents. It remains to be seen how things will pan out going forward. As it was, Cleveland trailed 13-0 less than a minute into the second quarter before getting into gear and scoring the final 24 points of the contest.
Watson got the start in his first action since the 2020 campaign and predictably struggled in the contest. He was just one of five for seven yards in the contest. With Jacoby Brissett the #1A/2 option at quarterback depending on what happens with Watson, Josh Dobbs (10 of 13, 108 yards, TD) and Josh Rosen (six of seven, 56 yards) are likely battling for the #3 spot on the depth chart. We know that Nick Chubb and Hunt are the top two backs in the system, barring some sudden trade. D’Ernest Johnson (three carries, zero yards) is probably the #3 back while Jerome Ford (10 carries, 57 yards, TD, four catches, 45 yards, TD) and John Kelly Jr. (10 carries, 20 yards) are trying to make an impact in the ground game. Daylen Baldwin (three catches, 25 yards), Javon Wims (one catch, seven yards), Ja’Marcus Bradley (one reception, five yards) and Anthony Schwartz (no catches) are trying to make an impact in the passing game. Tight ends Miller Forristall (reception, 16 yards) and Nakia Griffen-Stewart (three catches, 37 yards) are hoping to make an impression to perhaps earn the #2 TE spot behind David Njoku.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Neither team was overwhelming in their opening preseason game of the year and has some things to work out on the depth charts. It will be interesting to see if Brissett gets any work for Cleveland in this contest seeing that he didn’t see the field in the opener and considering he is the de facto starter with Watson out until December. The Browns have a lot of talent but there are pieces that are unfamiliar with one another and they have to figure out something at the wide receiver position. Philadelphia has talent and we’ll see if A.J. Brown gets any reps this week or if he along with DeVonta Smith will sit it out again. The Eagles are trying to figure out the rest of the depth chart but someone has to step up. In the end, Cleveland is talented enough to get the win in a game that ultimately means little.
Full-Game Total Pick
Both teams saw a fair amount of points on the board in the opening week of preseason. The Eagles put up 21 points en route to a 45-point total in their opener with the Jets. Cleveland hung 24 points on the board en route to a 37-point total with the Jaguars. The Browns just edged over the total in their game, which was set at 36.5 points, while Philadelphia rocketed past the 35.5-point mark that was set for their game. With the potential for some starters to actually see some extended run in this game, you have to think that we can see some more fireworks. This game winds up heading over the total.