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Browns vs Texans: Week 2 NFL preview

The Cleveland Browns will look to bounce back from their opening loss at Kansas City in Sunday’s Week 2 showdown with the Houston Texans.

Below, you’ll find a full preview of this upcoming contest, including key matchups to watch, a score prediction and much more.

Cleveland Browns vs Houston Texans: What you need to know

Find out where the Browns and Texans stand in our NFL Week 2 power rankings

Browns offensive line vs Texans front seven

If you look at Houston’s roster as a whole, there isn’t a lot that will blow you away. Sure, there are some decent players littered throughout, but it’s clear that the Browns are so vastly superior in every area.

Cleveland returns all five starters from an elite 2020 offensive line, and that unit should have a field day against a Texans front without much firepower. The only saving grave for the visitors is that the Browns are coming off last Sunday’s game a little bit hobbled.

  • Browns Depth Tested: After left tackle Jedrick Wills exited the field in Week 1 with an ankle injury, his replacement, Chris Hubbard, injured his triceps. Being that thin on the edge would be more of a concern for Cleveland if the Texans had any legitimate pass-rushers.
  • Kirksey Needs to Crash the Party: A former Brown whose play has declined, Houston linebacker Christian Kirksey had a strong 2021 debut, with six total tackles, two tackles for loss and two passes defensed. He’ll need to play great versus the run and Cleveland tailback Nick Chubb to neutralize the big edge the Browns should have in this matchup.

Advantage: Cleveland Browns

Baker Mayfield vs Tyrod Taylor

Browns vs Texans: Week 2 NFL preview
Sep 12, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) reacts after a play during the first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

This quarterback duel is most interesting, because Browns QB Baker Mayfield was the No. 1 overall pick who ultimately replaced Tyrod Taylor as Cleveland’s starter in 2018, and he’s never looked back.

Taylor has since mentored the likes of Los Angeles Chargers reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert. A freak accident in which a team doctor punctured his lung before kickoff led Taylor to lose his job to Herbert after one start in 2020. Mayfield got thrust into action when Taylor suffered a concussion.

See where the Browns rate in our updated NFL defense rankings

  • Baker Being Baker: At his best, Mayfield is like a basketball point guard who can dissect defenses from the pocket and keeps opponents guessing on where he’ll go with the ball. Mayfield is particularly dangerous on play-action downfield passes, so the Texans have their work cut out to defend him and his capable cast of skill players.
  • The Ultimate Field General: Let’s remember that Taylor led the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs before the Josh Allen era, and hasn’t had an honest, fair shake as a starter. Houston happens to be another dreadful situation to walk into, but with Taylor setting the tone for the locker room, the Texans aren’t going to roll over for anyone.

Advantage: Cleveland Browns

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Kevin Stefanski vs David Culley

Browns vs Texans: Week 2 NFL preview
Aug 29, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is shown on the sideline during their game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

To his credit, David Culley had the Texans better prepared for the season’s kickoff than anyone could’ve reasonably hoped for. Houston was supposed to be the abject disaster of a team in the midst of a purposeful tank job, but instead, the Texans crushed the Jacksonville Jaguars 37-21.

Although reigning Coach of the year Kevin Stefanski lost in Week 1, that wasn’t really through any fault of his own. He had Cleveland in position to beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium. Some defensive breakdowns and the botched snap to punter Jamie Gillan were more to blame for the Browns’ defeat than anything coaching-related.

  • Culley’s Experience Has Value: Talk about paying your dues. Culley has coached in the NFL since 1994, and the 65-year-old seemed like an afterthought of a candidate when the Texans hired him. At least so far, Culley’s extensive resume is at least getting his veteran-laden team to buy in.
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin: It can’t be overstated how Stefanski and GM Andrew Berry have been a stabilizing force for a turbulent Browns organization. Not only is Stefanski an excellent leader, but he’s also a great play-caller. Combine that with the talented roster Berry assembled, and it makes for a bright present and future in Cleveland.

Advantage: Cleveland Browns

The bottom line: This seemed like it’d be more of a blowout before Week 1 began, but even though the teams had opposite results to kick off the 2021 campaign, look for the Browns to rebound and win comfortably at home for the Dawg Pound.

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