Cleveland Browns (7-7, 6-8 ATS) at Green Bay Packers (11-3, 11-3), 4:30 p.m., Saturday
Brolley’s Browns Stats and Trends
The Browns will have five days to prepare for their Saturday trip to Lambeau after their Week 15 game got moved to Monday.
Cleveland snapped a four-game ATS losing streak last week.
The Browns are 4-1 toward overs in their last five games as a road underdog.
Nick Chubb has played 66% of the snaps the last two weeks with Kareem Hunt nursing an ankle injury. He carried the offense last week with the Browns down their top two quarterbacks, posting 23/91/1 rushing in their loss to the Raiders. Chubb has scored more than five FP just once as a receiver thanks to a receiving TD in Week 11, and he’s yet to top a 66% snap share in a game this season even with four games with Hunt out of the mix. The Packers are giving up 4.0 YPC and the seventh-fewest rushing yards per game (73.8) to RBs this season.
Baker Mayfield is expected to return to the lineup this week after sitting out last week with COVID. He completed 22/32 passes for 190 yards (5.9 YPA), two TDs, and one INT the last time he took the field in Week 14 against the Ravens. He has just one performance with 19+ FP through 13 games, but at least the Packers allowed the QB1 performance to Tyler Huntley last week, who accounted for two passing TDs and two rushing TDs.
Jarvis Landry also sat out last week with COVID, which put a pause to his run of 14+ FP in three consecutive games. He’s seen 8+ targets in each of those games but he’s posted more than 45+ receiving yards just once in his last five contests. The Packers are giving up the eighth-fewest receptions per game (11.5) to WRs this season.
Donovan Peoples-Jones has led the Browns in receiving the last two weeks, posting 5/90 receiving on seven targets with Baker in Week 14 and 4/48 receiving on eight targets with Nick Mullens last week. The Packers conceded underneath targets to speedster Marquise Brown in Week 15, and the Ravens took them with Hollywood posting 10/43 receiving on 14 targets.
Brolley’s Packers Stats and Trends
The Packers and Cowboys own league-best 11-3 ATS records
Green Bay has played over the total in four straight games.
The Packers have covered five straight games as a home favorite.
Aaron Rodgers has been the best player in the league since he fractured his toe, posting 23+ FP in four straight games. He’s posted 265+ passing yards in five straight games since missing Week 9 with COVID after topping that mark just twice in his first eight games. A-Rod has also posted multiple TD passes in 11 of his last 12 games. The Browns haven’t allowed an individual quarterback to post 20+ FP against them since Kyler Murray did it back in Week 6.
The Ravens threw multiple defenders at Davante Adams last week, and he still came through with 6/44/1 receiving on seven targets. He’s now posted 6+ catches in seven straight games and he’s reached 14+ FP in five consecutive contests. The Browns are giving up the 11th-fewest FPG (33.0) to WRs this season.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling flopped when everyone was on him in Week 14 against the Bears (3/20 receiving), but he went off last week with 5/98/1 receiving on seven targets (23% share) in Green Bay’s victory over the Ravens in Week 15. MVS has now led the Packers in targets in three out of the last four games, and he’s produced 20+ FP in two of those games. He was added to the COVID list this week, and Allen Lazard would be elevated to the #2 WR role if he missed. He’s coming off a 2/23 receiving performance against the Ravens, but he exploited the Bears for 6/75/1 receiving two weeks ago. Zay Jones went with 6/67 receiving on nine targets in this matchup last week.
Aaron Jones nudged back ahead of A.J. Dillon with a 63% snap share after falling below half of the snaps in his last three games. He turned in 13/58 rushing and 2/12/1 receiving in a tough matchup against the Ravens. Dillon turned in his lowest snap share (37%) since Week 7, but he luckily scored a touchdown to salvage his fantasy day as he managed just 8/35/1 scrimmage. The Browns are giving up 4.1 YPC and just 112.0 scrimmage yards per game to RBs this season after Josh Jacobs totaled 18/94 scrimmage last week.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 26.9 (6th)
Plays per game: 57.1 (31st)
Pass: 58.9% (20th) | Run: 41.1% (13th)
Pace: 31.7 (31st)
Plays per game: 65.3 (9th)
Pass: 59.4% (19th) | Run: 40.6% (14th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
While the Browns getting Baker Mayfield and Jarvis Landry back is a welcomed sight, the larger sample on this offense isn’t impressive to begin with. Cleveland scored 17 or fewer points in six of their previous 8 games before Week 15 and have been forced to punt on 43% of their possessions (fourth-most) in this span. Their ineptitude and lack of explosiveness offensively has caused their play volume to drop significantly. Over the last eight weeks, the Browns are 31st in plays per game (57.1) while only the Seahawks (54.7 plays per game) are lower. Yikes.
Meanwhile, the song remains the same for the Packers. Aaron Rodgers has been superb over the last month and sports a 70.6% completion rate, 8.9 YPA, and 127.7 passer rating while throwing for 325.5 YPG and a 13:0 TD-to-INT ratio in his last four games. Rodgers’ dominance combined with the Packers slow pace on offense allows them to drain clock offensively like no other team. Green Bay leads the league in time of possession at 3 minutes, 12 seconds per drive.
Between the Browns’ low play volume and the Packers clock-killing offense, I’m not optimistic that we will see fireworks to start off Christmas Day. On another gross slate, it’s telling that this game is the third-worst in the pace / plays model.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Stefanski clarifies that anyone who was put on the COVID list on Dec. 15, or earlier, would be available to return for Packers game, regardless of how they test. That includes: WR Jarvis Landry, QB Baker Mayfield, OT Jed Wills, DT Malik McDowell, among others #Browns— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) December 22, 2021
As the above Tweet explains, we can count on Baker Mayfield and Jarvis Landry both taking the field on Christmas afternoon. And I like both in the matchup across from the Packers. Let’s just get it out of the way that there are zero concerns for any individuals on the Cleveland roster from playing on Lambeau Field with below-freezing temperatures expected on Saturday. Perhaps the most concerning factor would be the potential of a Jaire Alexander return. But it’s already been reported that Alexander will not return this week. Chandon Sullivan has been an outstanding replacement for Jaire out of the slot, but the volume Landry is going to see outweighs the downside of running around half of his routes inside his coverage.
Packer WR Davante Adams will go up against CB Greedy Williams on around half of his reps. It’s a far better matchup than Marquez Valdes-Scantling (if he plays… COVID) will face across from Ward. However, Tae also attacks the slot on around a third of his routes. And inside corner depth is a massive concern for Cleveland with Troy Hill sidelined. Further complicating the issue, while the Dawg Pound will get several key players back in time for Week 16, hopes of CB Greg Newsome returning from the concussion protocol were dashed when he was placed on the COVID list Wednesday. So, we are likely to see strong safety M.J. Stewart, once again, pulling double-duty in nickel packages 🤤.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
The Browns are on a short week and will have an even bigger crunch of time to get players ready for this game even if the likes of Baker Mayfield and Jarvis Landry clear protocols in time for Saturday’s game as expected.
This is a bad fantasy offense anyway, so RB Nick Chubb has really been the only guy I’ve had interest in playing. The Packers’ run defense has been strong this year, so it’s a bad matchup. But with Kareem Hunt (ankle) out even if he clears COVID protocols, Chubb is going to get the ball a ton this week. He’s a must-start even if he’s been more TD dependent than you’d like to see (and C JC Tretter is on the COVID list).
#Browns coach Kevin Stefanski: Greg Newsome remains in concussion protocol. Tested positive for COVID today.— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) December 22, 2021
RB Kareem Hunt (ankle), CB Troy Hill (knee) will be out for Saturday vs. Packers even if clear COVID protocols.
Landry had been putting up some numbers before his stint on the COVID list, so I can endorse him as a WR3.
Cleveland will have the services of coach Kevin Stefanski for this one — he’s cleared the protocols.
Aaron Rodgers continues to complain about being canceled but I don’t think anyone has actually canceled him — he’s likely the frontrunner for the NFL MVP right now. But for those whose fantasy teams he’s been carrying, this matchup is a little worrisome because the Browns haven’t allowed a QB to reach 20 FP in almost three months. Rodgers is nigh impossible to bench, but just keep that in mind considering one of his top receivers, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, is on the COVID-19 list.
By the way, look at how the shorthanded Ravens’ secondary defended Adams last week. Insane.
This is some prime Randy Moss shit. pic.twitter.com/BREIudJvXl— Peter Bukowski (@Peter_Bukowski) December 22, 2021
Rodgers and his offensive line would get a boost if Browns DE Myles Garrett (groin) can’t play. The Packers are still working LT David Bakhtiari back from last year’s ACL tear — and CB Jaire Alexander from this year’s shoulder injury — but he is not expected to play this week. The Pack want to get healthy for the playoffs.
The two Packers All-Pros won’t be returning to the game field this week. Matt LaFleur said he isn’t anticipating David Bakhtiari or Jaire Alexander to play against the Browns. https://t.co/s1nkW2iQsO— The Packers Wire (@ThePackersWire) December 22, 2021
The backfield is very frustrating for the Packers — it’s possible that in frigid Green Bay on Christmas Day that AJ Dillon will take the lead back from Aaron Jones, but Jones outsnapped Dillon pretty significantly in Week 15, and it seems like both of these guys could be touchdown dependent. The Browns have been overall a more difficult matchup for RBs this year, so getting Dillon or Jones isn’t the end zone could be the key to a positive fantasy outcome. Both are on the RB2 radar.