Browns Keys to Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

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The Browns face off against Kyle Murray and the Arizona Cardinals this week. By now, everyone knows to stay alive and make the playoffs; the Browns must win and hope/pray for some help. The first part of that is the essential part. No matter what happens, the Browns need to finish the season playing to win every Sunday. Let’s get to the Browns keys to beating Arizona Sunday.

Stop Kyle Murray


The Cardinals offense goes based on how Kyle Murray goes. It is how Kliff Kingsbury wants it, and how he schemes it. The Browns defense needs to work to confuse and disguise while containing. Something similar to what they did earlier in the year against the Ravens Lamar Jackson. This is a rookie quarterback, and the defense must not take that lightly. Especially after already letting two no-name quarterbacks beat you previously.

Most of the time, you don’t want this type of quarterback outside the pocket on you because of the run threat, but Murry’s non-opponent-adjusted QBR of only 19.8 outside the pocket, per ESPN Stats & Info. Murray has an in pocket QBR of 62.4, which places him ninth in the NFL. So the key here is you want to keep him semi contained by being disciplined so that he can’t beat you with his legs but rattle him into reacting and making a mistake. The numbers dictate not to panic when defending him outside the pocket.

While the focal point of the defense must be Murray, the Browns can’t just forget about the run game. This is especially true after Joe Mixon carved this defense upĀ last week. I have no idea what they were trying to do last week, but it looked as though they could have cared less how many yards Mixon ran for, and that is never how defense should play. Give up that kind of rushing and five trips to the red zone again, and you may not be as lucky.

Better Play from Baker

Photo: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Baker has had a much better second half of the year, and that is great. Last week was not. I am not sure if the hand was still bothering him or some of the early season jitters were back, but he has to be better. I will throw out the one “interception” he was saddled for because it was a joke. Personally, I have never seen someone on their back on the ground with the ball secured, not called down. It is one of the WORST calls I have ever seen. But the fact of the matter is he was 11-24 with two interceptions. He did have the rushing touchdown. This is not good enough to get it done.

Obviously this is not all on Baker. The play calling is still a concern and the offense continues to look hit or miss. The biggest key will be utilizing the running game to make things easier on Baker and his beat-up hand. With more consistent usage of the run game throughout the game creating better down and distance situations Baker can make easier throws to keep drives moving and hopefully finding the endzone. As per three of the last four games, this is not a staunch defense and this offense should put points on the board.

Block Out the Noise

The remainder of this season will be decided by winning between the lines. You have no control over what any other team and how they will affect how the season ends. Go out, do the job in front of you and win the game. It is the only way to have a chance at a miracle. Lose focus or let that noise in, and you then destroy what little chance you have. The goal is to win the football games period, and that needs to remain the locker room’s sole focus. After a 2-6 start, they have gone 4-1 showing that they do have the ability to this done. Forget all the drama being drummed up and beat the Arizona Cardinals.


The Browns are the better football team and in the end, that talent will win out. Baker and the Browns take this on 31-17 to get to .500 on the year.

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