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Browns defensive front ready to outmatch the physicality of the Texans run game

They have allowed 1,793 rushing yards this season, which is the 11th-best in the league


The Browns defensive front has been one of the best all season. The group will have to take their play up another notch to continue setting the tone for the Browns. This week, they will go up against the Texans run game that will try to redeem themselves after a lackluster performance three weeks ago.

In Week 16, the Browns defensive line made it very difficult for the Texans to run the ball. The Browns held the Texans to 72 net rushing yards, and the longest run was 17 yards. RB Devin Singletary, having his best rushing season with 898 yards in nine starts, was held to 44 yards on nine attempts. 

"Their run game is a real physical group that likes to come downhill," DE Ogbo Okoronkwo said. "We are not going to put too much into that previous game against them because they didn't have their quarterback. Not having their quarterback changed their game plan. So when they play physically, it won't be enough for us just to match it. We must out-match their physicality."

The Texans didn't have QB C.J. Stroud in Week 16, who can also run the ball. Stroud has 39 run attempts for 167 yards and three rushing touchdowns this season. His presence on the field forces the defense to be wary about what coverage they will play, thanks to his great arm.

In Week 16, the Browns could load the box and stop the Texans run game because they believed their corners could play straight man against QB Case Keenum and the available Texan receivers. With Stroud playing, the Browns will have to respect his arm and ability to make great plays, limiting them from loading the box.

Check out photos of the team working to prepare for the Houston Texans.

This can give the Texans running backs more room to operate and a better chance at having a productive game. They have an opportunity to have a more balanced attack with Stroud in the game.

"We expect a different Texans team based on who they didn't have three weeks ago," DE Alex Wright said. "I expect a battle, and they didn't forget they took an L from us. They are going to come in with a chip on their shoulder, so I know it will be a battle."

Even though Saturday's game will be different from Week 16, the Browns defensive front should still have the advantage. They have allowed 1,793 rushing yards this season, which is the 11th-best in the league. They have given up the least number of rushing first downs with 87 this season. Meanwhile, the Texans rank 22nd with 1,647 rushing yards and 27th with 84 rushing first downs.

The defensive front has playmakers across the board, starting with DE Myles Garrett, who has the most quarterback pressures since Week 14 with 35, according to Pro Football Focus. DE Za'Darius Smith has 5.5 sacks this season and forced a fumble. In Week 16, Smith led the Browns with two sacks and recorded four quarterback hurries. 

At linebacker, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has been playing at a high level this season, which earned him a Pro Bowl alternate. In 16 games this season, he has 101 tackles – which leads the team – 20 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and two interceptions.

While the regular season accolades have been great, the defensive front is prepared to start fresh for the postseason, leaving behind their regular season stats.

"We have the city on our back, we have the organization on our back, and we have our name and what we built as a team and as a defense," Owusu-Koramoah said. "It's very important to uphold that standard. And I think that's what we aim to do going into the postseason. Of course, the statistics are important. We celebrate those but want to build something more from the postseason."