When the Cleveland Browns face off against the Houston Texans in Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season, there is a chance for both teams to go against offseason expectations. The Texans were expected to be a disastrous failure while the Browns were expected to compete for the top spot in the AFC.
Both teams could still meet their offseason expectations but Week 2 could do a lot to set up the future. If Houston wins and Cleveland loses, those expectations will have to be reevaluated.
In order for the Browns to not let that happen, they must be able to protect quarterback Baker Mayfield and get the running game going. In their Week 1 victory, the Texans hit Trevor Lawrence four times, sacking him once. They also kept Jacksonville from getting their running game going, only allowing 76 yards on the ground.
As with most games, that shines the spotlight directly on the line of scrimmage. For the Browns, four-fifths of their offensive line is good to great. Normally, all five are noted as such but with Jedrick Wills questionable and his backup, Chris Hubbard, out, Cleveland has an area of concern against Houston.
For the Texans, Whitney Mercilus is the big name. He had the team’s only sack last week along with a tackle for loss. For his career, Mercilus has 113 quarterback hits, 69 tackles for loss and 55 sacks. His ability to impact the game from the edge has been consistent.
If Wills is significantly limited or the Browns have to start their third-string left tackle, James Hudson III is the expectation, Houston may be able to disrupt the home team’s game plan rushing and passing.
Whitney Mercilus versus whoever starts at left tackle could be the matchup that decides the Browns vs. Texans in Week 2.