One of the most intriguing matchups of the weekend is the Cleveland Browns against the undefeated Arizona Cardinals. Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield, former Oklahoma Sooners stars, are battling it out on the field and Cleveland will do whatever it takes to hand Arizona their first loss.
However, the Browns were hit with a massive injury update that could derail their chances of pulling off the upset. Nick Chubb is out as he deals with a calf injury, which will put even more pressure on Baker Mayfield.
Nick Chubb out as the Browns try and find a way to top Arizona
Chubb ran wild in the upsetting loss against the Los Angeles Chargers. The former Georgia star ended the day with 21 carries for a season-high 161 yards and a touchdown. The week before, Chubb had 100 yards on 21 carries against the Minnesota Vikings, and he has become the centerpiece of the Cleveland offense.
However, he was nursing a calf injury and was held out of practice all week long, making it even more difficult for the Browns to upset the Cardinals. Kevin Stefanski’s offense runs through the rushing game, which is 1st in the NFL in yards per game with 187.
On the other hand, the passing game hasn’t been as efficient, and they currently sit 24th in the NFL in passing yards per game.
Chubb is out, and now the Browns have to adjust their game plan a bit, especially against one of the more formidable defenses in the NFL in Arizona.
The silver lining: Kareem Hunt
Usually when your starting running back is out, it is a devastating blow to a football team. The Browns own the best 1-2 punch at the position with Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
Hunt has enjoyed a ton of success since joining Cleveland, and 2021 is no exception. He has 55 carries for 295 yards with five touchdowns, including at least one trip to the end zone in each of the past three games.
But, Hunt was also nursing an injury during practice this past week and is officially questionable. It shouldn’t matter, and all signs point to Hunt being ready to roll and becoming the lead back for the game against the Cardinals.
“He’s ready to go off.”
Myles Garrett on Kareem Hunt against the Cardinals
Hunt should be in line for a massive workload on the ground and in the passing game, especially if Murray and the Cardinals come out firing on offense.
Baker Mayfield’s time to shine
Now more than ever is the perfect opportunity for Mayfield to step up when it matters most. With Chubb out, the offense will have to lean on Mayfield even more.
The Browns quarterback is having an up and down year, throwing for 1240 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions on the year. Mayfield has been doubted for a long time, and now is a perfect chance for him to explode and put the league on notice with an upset of the Cardinals.
Against the Vikings, Mayfield struggled big time. He finished 15-of-33 with 155 yards and no scores despite a 14-7 victory. The Browns are 3-2 and want to avoid dropping to .500, especially with the Baltimore Ravens trying to run away with the AFC North crown.
All eyes are on Baker this weekend, especially with the absence of their starting running back.
Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference