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His team is hanging on by a thread for a playoff spot, he’s returning from an injury, and he has one more chance to prove that he can be a competent NFL starting quarterback…The Carson Wentz Experience. It almost feels like we are watching the NFL version of Groundhog Day. Washington needs a spark, and while he made plenty of foolish plays in his five games starting for the Commanders, Wentz CAN put up numbers and execute on big downfield plays. Some of his interceptions were so laughable that people probably don’t even realize that he threw for over 300 yards in three contests (313 with four touchdowns, 337 with three touchdowns, and 359 with two touchdowns). Fortunately for Wentz, Washington should have no problem getting their two-headed backfield monster going. Allowing on average 134.3 rushing yards a game, the Browns are one of the worst defenses against the run in the NFL- this bodes well for both the Commanders and Brian Robinson fantasy owners. Robinson is averaging 18.1 carries per game since Week 9. While his snap share remains below 50%, he’s the clear lead back. Most importantly, he’s used near the goal line. Cleveland allows a whopping 5.2 yards per carry, third-most in the league. Only the Bears and Texans have allowed more rushing touchdowns. Carson Wentz is walking into a situation where he’s historically thrived- establishing the run early and picking teams apart using play action. If Brian Robinson begins to run over the Browns like Caitlyn Jenner after a few too many glasses of wine, we will see flashes of young Carson Wentz on the Eagles.
The Commanders’ defense is like your girlfriend when she gets drunk. Most of the time, they are a talented, fun group, but at other times (like last week against San Francisco), things get nasty, and you Uber back to your apartment confused (hypothetically, of course). Chase Young is back, which is excellent for Washington because their defensive line is already scary. Defensive tackle Daron Payne is 0.5 sacks away from 10 this season. He would become the second defensive tackle in franchise history since the stat became official in 1982 to record ten or more sacks in a single season since Dave Butz recorded a record 11.5 in 1983. But let’s be honest with ourselves: the Browns are a much more talented team than the Commanders, who have put together some nice games but have been very lucky. Cleveland is bound to be a playoff team next year. An eleven-game suspension hit the Browns pretty hard, and they are visibly working out kinks between Deshaun Watson and their receiving core. Watson has been showing improvements. Had Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, or David Njoku not all dropped touchdown passes, the tone around this team would be wildly different heading into this game.
The last time Watson played an entire season, he was VERY, VERY good. How good? He ended the year with his third consecutive Pro Bowl selection. He led the league that year with 4,823 yards, as well as in both yards-per-completion (12.6) and yards-per-attempt (8.9). The Browns have a top two offensive line in the NFL, the best backfield a coordinator could dream up, and Cleveland defends the pass well (opponents only average 201.5 passing yards a game). They are far and away the better team, and they make it very difficult to execute on third-downs against them- their opponents are only converting on 37.50% of third-downs.
As great as the Browns are on paper, something about this Washington team refuses to quit, and Cleveland hasn’t played well as a team since Watson returned. Vegas likes the Commanders -2.5, and they will continue to shock the world on New Years by winning by a touchdown and possibly even securing their playoff spot. Want to make up for your crappy first attempt at your girlfriend’s Christmas present? Take either team’s moneyline and get your $200 in Bonus Bets from FanDuel!
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