The Los Angeles Rams offense is coming off its best performance of the season, but it will face a real test on Sunday when the Cleveland Browns defense comes to town. The Browns boast the No. 1 defense in the NFL in terms of yards per game, led by stud pass rusher Myles Garrett. While Cleveland’s offense is nothing to write home about and will be without Deshaun Watson, it’s the defense that has kept the Browns in games.
A win by the Rams would help their playoff chances immensely and potentially even put them in the seventh spot in the NFC. A loss wouldn’t be catastrophic, but the Rams can’t afford to lose many more games after starting 5-6.
Here are eight stats and facts to know for this Week 13 showdown.
Browns have allowed 320 fewer yards than any other team
The Browns’ defense is the best in the NFL. Though it ranks 7th in points allowed, it has allowed by far the fewest yards of any team, 320 fewer than anyone else and only an average of 248 per game.
This is the biggest test for a hot-and-cold Rams offense, particularly when it comes to throwing the ball. Cleveland has allowed the fewest passing attempts, the fewest passing yards, the second-fewest touchdown passes and the second lowest net yards per pass attempt.
It could be a long day for Matthew Stafford and the passing attack on Sunday afternoon.
Cleveland has best 3rd-down defense, 3rd-worst offense in NFL
The Browns know how to get off the field on third down, something that applies to both their defense and offense. Cleveland has the best third-down defense in football, allowing only 38 conversions on 140 attempts (27.1%). However, the offense has been terrible at converting third downs, too. The Browns have only moved the chains 52 times on 166 third-down attempts, a rate of 31.3%, which ranks 30th among all teams.
If the Rams can convert on third down and stop the Browns, it will help them maintain an advantage in the time of possession category.
Browns are 5-1 with Deshaun Watson, 2-3 with other QBs this season
The Browns won’t have Watson in this game after he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery, and they may not have Dorian Thompson-Robinson, either; he’s in the concussion protocol.
With Watson, the Browns won five of their six games. With Thompson-Robinson or P.J. Walker as the starter, they’re just 2-3. The Rams have to take advantage of the absence of Watson because Cleveland is a different offense without him.
Rams have 3rd-fewest takeaways, Browns have most turnovers
Los Angeles has not been very good at forcing turnovers this season, intercepting only five passes and recovering four fumbles. The Browns, on the other hand, are not very good at protecting the football. The Browns have turned it over more than any other team (23 times), tossing 13 interceptions and losing 10 fumbles.
The Rams rank 30th in takeaways and the Browns are 32nd in turnovers, so something’s gotta give. This is the week for the Rams to force a few turnovers because the Browns have given it away at least twice in eight games this season.
Browns have highest pressure rate of any defense
According to Pro Football Reference, the Browns have a pressure rate of 28.5%, the best of any team in the NFL. The Rams, for comparison, have the seventh-lowest pressure rate at only 19.7%.
Los Angeles' offensive line is coming off a great performance against the Cardinals on Sunday by allowing just seven pressures, but this will be a serious challenge against Myles Garrett and the Browns' relentless pass rush.
Rams have won 3 in a row vs. Browns
The Rams and Browns have only met three times since 2011, and the Rams have won all three of those contests. They've all been low-scoring games, with the highest total being 33 points â a 20-13 win by the Rams in 2019.
All time, the Rams are 13-11 against the Browns, outscoring them by a margin of just 537-524. But they've had Cleveland's number in their last three meetings, and they hope to continue that on Sunday.
Matthew Stafford is 3-0 vs. Browns in his career, scored at least 31 in each game
Stafford has never lost to the Browns, going a perfect 3-0 in his three career meetings. His numbers in those contests have all been fantastic, too. In 2009, he threw for 422 yards with five touchdown passes and two interceptions, a 38-37 win by Detroit. In 2013, he threw four touchdown passes and one pick, along with 248 yards in a 31-17 win. In 2017, he threw three touchdown passes with one interception and 249 passing yards, a 38-24 win.
So not only is he undefeated against the Browns, but he has 12 touchdowns, four interceptions and has averaged 306.3 yards per game in those wins.
Myles Garrett has highest pass-rush grade in NFL, is favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year
Garrett comes into Week 13 as the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year at +150, slightly ahead of Micah Parsons (+175) and T.J. Watt (+250), according to BetMGM. He also has the highest pass-rush grade of any player in the NFL, earning a 94.1 mark from Pro Football Focus through 11 games played.
Though he suffered a shoulder injury in Week 12, there seems to be optimism that Garrett will play against the Rams on Sunday, which will make life difficult for Alaric Jackson and Rob Havenstein at tackle.