The New Orleans Saints (5-9) was able to keep their slim hopes of making the playoffs alive after defeating the Falcons, 21-18, at home in week 15. New Orleans will finish out their cross-conference stretch against the AFC North when they take on the Cleveland Browns (6-8) on Christmas Eve. The Saints will look to pick up their first win against and avoid the sweep by the AFC North as they were defeated by the Bengals, Steelers and Ravens so far this season.
New Orleans Saints @ Cleveland Browns Game Information:
Current Records: New Orleans Saints (5-9) @ Cleveland Browns (6-8)
Date/Time: December 24th @ 12:00 p.m. CT
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium; Cleveland, OH
Where to Watch: CBS (Commentators: Play-By-Play Spero Dedes, Analyst Jay Feely, Reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala)
Spread: Browns (-2.5)
New Orleans Saints vs. Cleveland Browns Series History:
Cleveland currently leads the all-time series against New Orleans, 13-5. The last meeting between the two teams came during the 2018 season where the Saints edged out the Browns in a 21-18 victory.
Previewing the Saints Heading into Week 16:
New Orleans is coming off a season sweep against the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints offense was able to use a hot start getting out to an early 14-0 lead on Atlanta to hold off a late Falcons comeback thanks to a fumble recovery by Bradley Roby.
The black and gold will be dealing with some cold temperatures as they head north to face off against the Browns in week 16. With artic air sweeping through most of the nation, the high temperature for Saturday’s game is expected to get to 14 degrees. There is implement weather that will be impacting how the Saints will get to Cleveland as they had to change their plans of leaving New Orleans.
Instead of departing from the Crescent City on Friday the Saints are planning to depart New Orleans following the team’s practice on Thursday. The travel will allow the black and gold to arrive in Cleveland before winter storm conditions are expected on Friday.
The Saints were able to rest on Tuesday, but they were some notable players absent from Wednesday’s practice. Chris Olave, Jarvis Landry, Dwayne Washington and Pete Werner were all on the DNP list. Olave and Werner are both managing hamstring injuries and Washington is dealing with an illness. Landry was added to the list as he was dealing with an ankle injury. Other notable injury news was that New Orleans placed Cesar Ruiz on the injured reserve list that effectively ends his season.
Not having Olave and Landry would be a big blow for the Saints offense as Rashid Shaheed and Juwan Johnson would be the likely candidates of taking over the majority of the target share. Shaheed has been able to show off his speed during his rookie season and Johnson continues to become a favorite target by Andy Dalton.
Scouting the Saints Opponent: Browns
Cleveland currently sits outside of the playoff picture in the AFC and tied for last place in the AFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cleveland was able to win last Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens, 13-3. Deshaun Watson was able to win his home debut for Cleveland as the Browns defense was able to shut down the Ravens offense.
The lone touchdown for the Browns came in the third quarters as Watson was able to find Donovan Peoples-Jones for a three-yard score to put them up 13-3 with 2:10 left to play in the third quarter. Baltimore was able to outgain the Browns on the offensive side of the ball, but Cleveland was able to win the turnover battle that ultimately changed the trajectory of the game.
Like New Orleans, Cleveland has some notable players that were listed on the DNP list during Wednesday’s practice. Nick Chubb, Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, Joel Bitonio, Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples- Jones. Bitonio, Cooper and Peoples-Jones were optioned for a rest day on Wednesday, so that should not come to an alarm to Browns fans.
Chubb being listed on the injury report could be a big blow to a Cleveland offense that has effectively been able to move the ball on the ground. On the defensive side, the question marks of the availability of Clowney and Garrett on the defensive line could open up some holes for the Saints.
There are some holes with this Browns team as they have struggled to move the ball with Watson under center and their rush defense has been suspect throughout the season. Cleveland allows 133.1 rushing yards per game and allow 23.3 points per game.
Prediction for Saints @ Browns:
The weather will have an effect on this game and that could lead to both teams relying heavily on their run game. New Orleans was able to get the running game going last week against a struggling Falcons rush defense as they were able to pick up 134 rushing yards on the day. Alvin Kamara was the leading rusher for the Saints as he finished the game with 21 carries for 91 yards.
Cleveland has a two-headed monster in the backfield with Chubb and Kareem Hunt that will test a Saints defense that has allowed the 10th most rushing yards per game this season. In what could become a defensive battle, field positioning will be key in this game.
Expect this to be a back-and-forth game as both teams will try to grind it out in what is expected to be rough weather conditions on Saturday afternoon. In the end, the Browns will edge out the Saints in a close victory at home.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints 10, Cleveland Browns 17