The Browns defensive front will look to fix their road woes on Sunday in Houston. They will face off against the Texans, who have struggled to run the ball this season.
They were last on the road for Weeks 12 and 13, and they allowed the Broncos to rush for 169 yards and the Rams to rush for 120 yards. The defensive front seven has taken steps back while playing on the road this season.
When playing at home, the Browns defense allows an average of 87 rushing yards to opponents compared to 122 rushing yards when they play away. In eight games at home, the Browns have only allowed 699 total rushing yards; while away, they have given up 732 total rushing yards in eight games.
"You're going into a hostile environment and embracing that," DC Jim Schwartz said. "And that's another step that we need to take as a team and as a defense is winning on the road. It's hard when you get to December and January, games mean a lot. Winning on the road means an awful lot. And we haven't always played our best on the road, and we've learned some lessons, and hopefully that will pay off for us now."
In their Week 16 matchup, they will play a Texans team that averages 100.3 rushing yards per game, which ranks 21st in the NFL. They are 27th in yards per rush with 3.8 and have scored nine rushing touchdowns, ranking 22nd.
The Texans' run game has been lackluster this season, with their longest run being only 22 yards – the worst in the league. They have only rushed for over 20 yards three times this season, which is the worst in the NFL.
The Texans run game starts with RB Devin Singletary, who has had a decent season. He has rushed for 711 yards this season – which is ranked 24th amongst starting running backs – on 167 attempts and has three touchdowns.
Singletary recently had his best game of the season when the Texans needed him most. With QB C.J. Stroud missing Week 15 against the Titans, everyone in Houston had to step up. Singletary had one of his best games of the season, rushing for 121 yards on 26 attempts.
"I've got great respect for him," DT Dalvin Tomlinson said. "He's a great back and is super explosive. We just have to stop him in the backfield and get him to slow his feet down. It's a challenge for us up front but we have to go out there and play Browns football."
The Browns defensive front has a chance to win the battle in the trenches. While the Texans rank 29th in the league in rushing for a first down at 18.6 percent, the Browns are second best at stopping the run at 19.3 percent.
The front seven, anchored by the Browns defensive line, takes pride in stopping the run and getting to the quarterback. It has been emphasized for the unit to play better on the road moving forward.
The captain, DE Myles Garrett – who is playing at a level in conversation for Defensive Player of the Year – with 13 sacks this season. Tomlinson and DE Za'Darius Smith have been great compliments of Garrett's exceptional talent. They both have three sacks each this season. LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is also playing well lately and ranks second in the league with a 12.8 percent success rate at stopping the run. The Browns have the personnel to stop any team on any given Sunday.
"He's getting more and more involved in all our packages," Schwartz said. "His step as a young player was mastering his own position first, and he had a bit of ups and downs, but he was making good progress. He's played at a high level the last month or so, and we've made a big point of trying to get him more on those things. It puts more on his plate having to do techniques that he hasn't done before, lead the huddle, do those things that he hasn't done before."