The Los Angeles Rams (2-0) take on the Cleveland Browns (1-1) for the first time since 2015. It will also be the first time they have played in Cleveland since 2011. This will be the Browns’ first Sunday Night Football game appearance in 11 years. Back in 2015, the Rams were still in St. Louis and had just acquired rookie running back Todd Gurley. Gurley scored two touchdowns in their last face off with the Browns. The Rams won 24-6. Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Greg Zuerlein and Johnny Hekker were also present in the franchise for that last meeting.
The Rams are coming off a big 27-9 victory over the New Orleans Saints. The Browns are also coming off a 23-3 win over the New York Jets. The Rams have two injured starters that are listed as questionable going into Week 3. Right guard Austin Blythe has an ankle sprain and tight end Tyler Higbee has a lung contusion. Higbee and Blythe are day-to-day according to head coach Sean McVay, but he will not risk further injury. In the meantime, replacements are on standby. Gerald Everett may have to start at tight end while potentially bringing Johnny Mundt to the active roster. Jamil Demby may be asked to fill the role at right guard.
The Rams are looking to advanced to 3-0 on the road, but it won’t be easy. They do appear to be the favorite over the Browns, but offensive inconsistency in the beginning of their last two games creates concerns. The Rams have shown since Week 1, and the defense continues to make critical plays and dominates.
Both teams have strong offensive weapons. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield threw 19 completions on 35 attempts for 325 yards and one touchdown against the Jets. He also had one interception and three sacks. Mayfield and the offensive line will have a tough battle against the Rams’ front three and the linebacker corps. They had strong showings in Weeks 1 and 2. The Browns will need to figure a way to contain star defensive lineman Aaron Donald.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff threw 19 completions on 28 attempts for 283 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked three times but had no interceptions. On paper, both quarterbacks are close in stats, but Goff brings more experience to the game and is more comfortable in the pocket than in previous years.
The Browns also have star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The former New York Giants wideout had a career best 89-yard touchdown reception this past Monday. OBJ had a team high six catches for 161 yards and one touchdown. He looks every bit the OBJ we are used to seeing with his one-handed trick catches and running speed. It’s best not to overlook Jarvis Landry too.
The Rams have their aerial attack in the three-headed receiving corps of Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp. All three had a spectacular showing last Sunday with Kupp leading the way with five catches for 120 yards. He had a tackle-breaking pass for 66 yards that brought the Rams to the 1-yard line, setting up Goff for a quarterback sneak across the goal line. Cooks had three catches for 74 yards and one touchdown. Look for another big performance by the receivers including Everett at tight end. The Browns defensive backs did not have an interception Monday night, but will step up coverage for the Rams.
Another Cleveland weapon is running back Nick Chubb. Chubb had 18 carries for 62 yards and one touchdown against the Jets. The Rams defense will have to hit the gaps hard to stop Chubb. We did see that effort against the Saints as running back Alvin Kamara was contained minus a few big gains, but no score.
The Rams have Gurley to lead the running game. He scored on a 4-yard run giving L.A. their first big lead against the Saints. Gurley had 16 carries for 63 yards and one touchdown.
The Rams will have a challenge up front from the Browns defensive line. Against the Jets, defensive end Myles Garrett shut down the offense with five tackles (three tackles for a loss), three sacks and five quarterback hits. Linebacker Joe Schobert led the way with 13 tackles (one tackle for loss).
The storied rivalry between the Rams and the Browns dates to the 1950s. There were three NFL Championship games between the two teams in 1950, 1951 and 1955, but the Browns beat the Rams in two out of the three championships. The Rams won the NFL Championship in 1951, beating the Browns 24-17 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.