An NFL game involving a 1-9-1 team against a 4-7 team usually doesn’t garner much attention, but the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans matchup in Week 13 will get plenty of buzz. Deshaun Watson will return to the Browns after serving an 11-game suspension to face his former team.
The Texans fell to the Miami Dolphins on the road in Week 12 by a final score of 30-15, and will hope to get bac into the win column in Week 13. Meanwhile, Cleveland was able to outlast the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in overtime, 23-17.
We’ll take a look at three things to look forward to in this matchup.
Deshaun Watson Is Back
In a remarkable coincidence, Deshaun Watson will make his return to an NFL game that counts against the franchise which drafted him, in a building where he became one of the league’s best young players. While both teams are unlikely to make the AFC playoffs, how this game unfolds will matter greatly to both sides.
Cleveland gave up an awful lot to acquire Watson, inclusive of guaranteed money and a heap of draft capital. They did that knowing he would be unavailable to play for some length of time, but wanted to put themselves in position to acquire one of the best talents in the NFL. Browns fans will want to see immediate production from the three-time Pro Bowler, but head coach Kevin Stefanski may try to run a more conservative offense in his reintroduction to the lineup.
Quarterback Roulette In Houston
While the Browns hope to look forward with their prized offseason acquisition finally on the field, Houston is still picking up the pieces in the post-Watson era. Before their game against the Dolphins, head coach Lovie Smith opted to give Kyle Allen his first start of the year. It did not go particularly well, as Allen threw two interceptions against Miami.
By all accounts, Smith will stick with Allen in the Cleveland game, which is an uninspiring development for second year player Davis Mills, who started the first 10 games. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who starts for Houston, as neither player would seem to be in the organization’s long term plans. If Allen struggles again, don’t be surprised to see Houston go back to Mills.
The Present Versus The Future At Running Back
Even though he doesn’t always get the credit, Browns running back Nick Chubb is pretty close to the gold standard at the position. He’s been one of the most reliable rushers in the NFL for several years, and appears to produce regardless of who the opponent is or what teams try to do to stop him. He has a great chance to run wild against a Texans run defense that has given up the second most yards in the league.
On the other side, rookie rusher Dameon Pierce is hoping to one day get to Chubb’s level. The Texans have given him ample opportunity to play in his first professional season, and he’s done a nice job so far. He’s rushed for 788 yards and three touchdowns on the year.