The 6-4 Browns and the 4-6 Falcons face off in this week 12 matchup. The Browns are one of the surprise teams in the NFL this season. When they drafted quarterback Johnny Manziel in the first round, most expectations were that he would eventually become the starting quarterback this season for better or for worse. Instead they have gotten unspectacular but steady play from quarterback Brian Hoyer who has played well enough to eliminate the fans calling for the rookie. In week 11 Hoyer and the Browns ran into the Houston Texans and their star J.J Watt who would usually be described as a defensive lineman, however when he also lines up as a tight end it is difficult to define him as one position. He scored his 4th touchdown of the season last week on a fade pass in the corner of the end zone. He had a strip sack, 5 tackles, and recovered a fumble while hitting Hoyer constantly. This led to the Browns offense to never find their groove in the teams 23-7 loss. Hoyer only completed 20/50 passes while throwing for 330 yards and a touchdown.
The Falcons have had an injury marred and disappointing season in comparison to their pre-season SuperBowl aspirations. However even though their 19-17 week 11 win only brought their record to 4-6, their record is good enough to tie for first place in a weak NFC South. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 268 yards and a touchdown and kicker Matt Bryant had 4 field goals in the win. Panther quarterback Cam Newton led two fourth quarter scoring drives to make it close and the Panthers missed a 46 yard field goal and had a 63 yard attempt blocked all in the last 1:40 of the game.
The Browns have been steady on offense but far from spectacular. They released veteran running back Ben Tate during the week and will go with a 2 back system featuring rookies Terrence West and Isaiah Crowell. The offense as a whole will get a tremendous boost with the addition of star wide receiver Josh Gordon who is returning from a 10 game suspension. The team fell out of first place with its loss last week and the return of Gordon will be a big factor if that want to reclaim the top spot in the division. Despite missing 2 games last season he still led the NFL in receiving yards at 1,646 and could be the jolt that this offense needs
The Falcons are coming off road wins over Tampa Bay and Carolina after losing 5 straight previously. It looks like veteran running back Steven Jackson is healthy for the first time all season and that could be a big key, especially around the goal line. His health is even more critical as backup running back Antone Smith broke his leg in the game last week. Veteran Roddy White has also picked it up lately after a slow start and has 28 catches for 313 yards and 3 touchdowns in his past 4 games.
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