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Matchup to Watch

Matchup to Watch: Browns rush defense vs. Eagles RB Miles Sanders

Browns look to contain the impressive playmaker Sunday 

Last week we highlighted Will Fuller’s impressive six-game touchdown streak, and, in classic reverse jinx fashion, we brought it to a halt on the shores of Lake Erie.

This week brings Eagles running back Miles Sanders to town, and he is riding an impressive streak of his own. Sanders has become the first running back in 10 years and only the second in the last 35 years to rush for 80 or more yards on 15 or fewer carries in three straight games. The last three outings for Sanders have seen him rush for 80 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries against the tough Steelers run defense, gain a whopping 118 yards on nine rushes against the Ravens and follow that up with 15 rushes for 85 yards last week against the Giants. All told, over the three-game streak, Sanders has rushed for 283 yards on just 35 attempts, which is a clip of a ridiculous 8.1 yards per carry.

For the year, Sanders is averaging 6 yards per carry and has rushed for 80-plus yards in five of his six starts. Incredibly, however, Sanders has not received more than 20 carries in a single game this season, as the Eagles' approach on offense is the polar opposite of the Browns.  Still, Sanders is a very dangerous weapon who leads the NFL with two rushes of more than 40 yards this season. The Browns boast the league's eighth-best run defense in 2020, allowing just 104.9 yards per game on the ground at just 4.0 yards per carry (tied for sixth-best). The Browns have also avoided the big play on the ground, allowing just three runs of 20-plus yards (tied for third-fewest) and they have not allowed a single run of 40 yards (tied for first).

It should be noted that our own Nick Chubb leads the NFL with seven rushes of 20-plus yards, so some significant running back talent will be on display on both sides of the field Sunday. I should also point out the Eagles run defense has given up a league-high 10 rushes of more than 20 yards this season, so Chubb and Kareem Hunt could be feasting once again. 

With the weather once again looking iffy, the Browns will need to be at their best against the run. Sanders is explosive, and containing him on the early downs will put the Eagles into third-and-long situations, where the Browns can take advantage of a struggling passing game. Philadelphia has allowed a league-high 35 sacks this season, and quarterback Carson Wentz has already thrown 12 interceptions, the most in the league. 

The priority Sunday should be to bottle up Sanders and force Wentz and Co. to try to beat you through the air.

Check out the best photos from the Browns win over the Houston Texans yesterday by the Browns photo team

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