There’s an old adage in most sports that defense wins championships. If that still rings true in 2019, that means the Cleveland Browns are a bonafide Super Bowl contender. Since the first week of the season when the Browns only gave up three points against the rival Bengals, it’s been clear that they are one of the best defensive teams in the NFL.
Of course, even at 7-3, the Browns aren’t yet assured of a playoff spot inside a loaded AFC North division where every team is .500 or better. However, fans using Ohio sportsbooks and betting sites to put money on the Browns to win the Super Bowl are no longer doing so on a whim as wishful thinkers. Cleveland’s defense has made the Browns a team undoubtedly capable of winning the Super Bowl.
Through the first 10 games of the season, the Browns rank sixth in the NFL defensively, yielding just 18 points per game. However, the Browns are the league leaders in yards allowed per game. They are one of four teams holding teams below 300 yards per game, giving up just 243 yards per game, which is 23 yards less than the next-best defense. Surprisingly, the Browns are in the middle of the pack when it comes to forcing turnovers. But they do have the sixth most sacks in the NFL.
Star of the Show
Of the 33 sacks the Browns have amassed thus far, 13 of them belong to Myles Garrett, who has been Cleveland’s best player this season. In fact, with his 13 sacks leading the NFL, Garrett is considered one of the favorites to win Defensive Player of the Year this season. Garrett has become one of the NFL’s elite pass rushers, totaling 16 sacks in each of the past two seasons. However, with 13 sacks in his first 10 games, Garrett is on pace for 22 sacks in 2023, serving as a one-man wrecking crew for opposing offensive lines. He’s easily the biggest reason why the Browns have one of the NFL’s top defenses.
Of course, Garrett can’t get all of the credit despite being the only member of the Browns having more than 3.5 sacks. It’s been a true team effort for Cleveland with defensive ends Ogbo Okoronkwo and Za’Darius Smith playing a key role and Dalvin Tomlinson anchoring the interior of the defensive line. Meanwhile, the safety tandem of Grant Delpit and Juan Thornhill has been one of the best in the NFL while Denzel Ward has led a stable group of cornerbacks. Keep in mind that the Browns have held four of their 10 opponents to 10 points or less, including one shutout. That doesn’t happen without a well-rounded defense.
Overcoming the Offense
Moving forward, the Cleveland defense may be forced to play at an elite level if the Browns are going to reach the Super Bowl. The Cleveland offense lost Nick Chubb early in the season and has also lost quarterback Deshaun Watson to a season-ending injury. Despite having one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL, the Browns are currently relying on rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson to lead the offense. Needless to say, that puts a lot of pressure on the defense every week to hold opponents to a modest point total. However, as long as the Browns have a top-flight defense and can run the ball effectively, they have a chance to win every game they play, which means winning the Super Bowl isn’t out of the question.
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