The Browns 2022 season has unfortunately come to an end with regards to postseason play, but it is important to end the season on a high note. They have the chance to do that this Sunday against a Commanders team that is fighting for its playoff life. Washington is currently the 7th seed in the NFC, and scenarios exist for them to clinch the playoffs this week or to be eliminated from them. A Browns win over a playoff team will provide some good momentum headed into Week 18 as they seek a season sweep over the Steelers.
Check out photos of players and coaches working to prepare for the teams regular season game against the Washington Commanders
1. Win the Turnover Battle
The Browns are 4-0 in 2022 when winning the turnover battle, and they're just 2-9 when they have not. Carson Wentz is once again the starter for the Commanders as they are looking for a spark from their offense to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Browns have faced the former No. 2 overall pick twice in his career. In his NFL debut in 2016, they lost to Wentz 29-10 in a game in which he threw for two touchdowns and did not commit a single turnover. The Browns lost the turnover battle that day, and they lost the game. In Wentz's second start against the Browns in 2020, the Browns picked him off twice, including a pick six by Sione Takitaki and recorded five sacks. They won the turnover battle that day and won the game 22-17 as a direct result of their takeaways.
2. Stop the Run
It's been the Achilles' heel of the Browns defense all year, and the Commanders will test the Browns run defense early and often. Rookie Brian Robinson leads Washington with 710 yards, had his first 100-yard rushing game in a Week 12 win over Atlanta and has topped 100 total yards in three of his last four games. The Commanders will want to establish the run early so they can get in second/third down and short where they can dial up play action shot plays.
With an excellent receiving trio led by Pro Bowler Terry McLaurin, seven-touchdown rookie Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel, the Browns defense will have a much better chance of limiting the vertical passing game by being stout against the run on early downs.
3. Protect Deshaun Watson
We all want to see the Browns offense thrive this Sunday in some good weather conditions for a change. That is a tough task against an excellent Commanders defense that absolutely can get after the quarterback. The Commanders have four first rounders on the defensive line with Chase Young returning to action and they are one of two teams in the NFL with three players to have seven sacks or more on the season. Those other three are two-time Pro Bowl DT Jonathan Allen (7.5), DT Daron Payne (9.5) and DE Montez Sweat (7.0), all of whom can wreak havoc in the backfield.
This will be a tough game not just for tackles Jedrick Wills and Jack Conklin, but it also should be one of the greatest interior battles possible between Allen, Payne and the Browns interior trio of LG Joel Bitonio, C Ethan Pocic and RG Wyatt Teller. The Commanders like to rush four and drop seven, making it very difficult for a quarterback to find easy throwing lanes, especially under duress. From a clean pocket, Watson has completed over two thirds of his passes this year, and it will be imperative to keep him clean so that the Browns can take advantage of the mismatches presented by TE David Njoku and receivers Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones.