Cleveland Browns @ Carolina Panthers Matchup Preview - September 11th, 2022
Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland Browns faceoff against Baker Mayfield and the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers enter the game as a slight favorite (-125) as the home team. Carolina is currently favored by -1.5 points while the Game Total is currently sitting on 42.0.
Carolina's primary advantage has been their defense, which has allowed a scant 302 yards per game -- #2-best in the NFL. They've succeeded in large part due to their pass defense, which has held opposing air attacks to the #2-least yards per game: 188. To give credit where credit is due, their run defense has also been terrific, checking in at #10 in yards per carry (4.32). A big factor in their success has been the ability to shed blocks and get to the quarterback quickly; they've averaged just 2.31 seconds after the snap before getting pressure on the QB -- #1-quickest in the league. The Carolina Panthers pass defense has had the most success in covering opposing running backs, who have managed just 21 yards per game against them (#32-least in football). Carolina's pass rush has been led by their defensive tackles who, ranking as the #7 unit in the NFL, have given opposing quarterbacks fits. This presents a decided advantage for Carolina given that the Browns haven't had much success throwing the ball this year, managing a mere 7.06 yards per target (good for #15-worst in the league). When it comes to their offense, the Panthers check in at #29 in football when it comes to total yards per game. Their passing game has compiled 208 yards per game (#28 in football). Their run game has ranked #27 with 3.72 yards per attempt on the ground.
Cleveland's biggest strength has been their rushing offense, ranking #2 in the league with 5.02 yards per carry. The key component of any team's ground game is their offensive line. The best running back can't do much if the line doesn't open up holes for them, and a worst running back can find success if he's given open space. Cleveland's o-line ranks #1-best in this regard. In terms of their defense, the Browns have ranked #10 in the league in total yards allowed per game. Opposing offenses have passed for 219 yards per game through the air against them (#10 in football). On the ground, opposing ball-carriers have ranked #11 with 4.33 yards per carry. Cleveland has been most effective in shutting down opposing wide receivers, holding them to 7.74 yards per target (#9-best). Cleveland has been least effective in shutting down opposing running backs, giving up a 85.3% completion rate (#7-highest).
Cleveland Browns Insights
The Cleveland Browns will be forced to utilize backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett in this contest, which generally means fewer pass attempts and more rushes.
Jacoby Brissett has been among the least effective quarterbacks in the league since the start of last season, averaging just 5.55 yards-per-target while checking in at the lowly 23rd percentile.
THE BLITZ projects Kareem Hunt to total 0.14 receiving TDs in this contest, on average, putting him in the 88th percentile among RBs.
Carolina Panthers Insights
THE BLITZ projects Baker Mayfield to be a more important option in his team's rushing attack this week (11.4% projected Carry Share) than he has been since the start of last season (1.2% in games he has played).
Christian McCaffrey has posted a monstrous 11.0 air yards per game since the start of last season: 98th percentile among RBs.
The Carolina Panthers pass defense has performed very well when opposing RBs have gotten into space, allowing an average of 5.66 yards-after-the-catch since the start of last season: the least in the league.
The Carolina Panthers have scored first in 12 of their last 17 games (+8.90 Units / 44% ROI)
The Cleveland Browns have scored first in 11 of their last 17 games (+4.65 Units / 21% ROI)
Sam Darnold has hit the Pass Attempts Over in his last 5 games at home (+5.00 Units / 91% ROI)