The Saints will beat the Browns on Sunday. I know this because they have to.
Since 2002, 100 teams have started 0-2 and only nine have made the playoffs. The 0-2 hole is one the Saints can’t afford to fall into.
It’s hard to say the second game of the season is a must-win, but it is. This is a team with Super Bowl expectations. A team that is expected to have a top 10 defense. A team that has all kinds of toys to play with on offense.
That’s the kind of team that goes into Cleveland and dominates the Browns. That’s the kind of team that goes on the road and wins a game it’s supposed to win.
The Browns put up 389 total yards of offense against the Steelers in week one, but Brian Hoyer and Andrew Hawkins aren’t exactly Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. This should be a good get-well opportunity for the Saints defense. Should be.
The Browns are 31st in total total defense, just one slot ahead of the Saints who are dead last. Drew Brees should be able to pick on cornerbacks Buster Skrine and rookie Justin Gilbert on the left side, but Joe Haden, the other starting corner, is a playmaker. So is safety Donte’ Whitner. Haden, in his 5th season, has battled a foot injury, but is listed as probable for Sunday. Still, the Browns’ defense is susceptible to giving up big plays.
BUT… this is an outdoor game on the road against a team that Drew Brees has had mixed results against. Sunday would be a good time to change that. In four career games against the Browns, Brees is 3-1, but with a lower passer rating against the Browns than any other team. In the last meeting between the teams, Brees threw four interceptions. Two were returned for touchdowns.
Saints roll into Cleveland and win, 38-24.
– Browns starting running back Ben Tate is injured, so carries will be split between rookies Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell.
– Drew Brees needs 67 yards to pass John Elway for #4 on the NFL’s career passing list.
– The Saints are 1-3 against the Browns since 1999.