The Cleveland Browns (11-6) square off against the Houston Texans (10-7) in a Super Wild Card Weekend matchup that features a rookie quarterback sensation in C.J. Stroud and a 39-year-old veteran quarterback in Joe Flacco who was just a spectator through most of the 2023 NFL season.
Both quarterbacks will be in the highlight of interesting NFL storylines in this one. One will be whether Stroud can translate his big-game success to the NFL level in his first season, which has been an eye-opening rookie season for the Ohio State product.
In 2023, Stroud not only led the Texans to the playoffs, but he became the 9th rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 4,000 yards. But, if the AFC South champions are to upset Flacco and the Browns, it can’t just rest on Stroud’s shoulders. The Texans offensive line will need to protect their rookie QB against Browns pass rush star Myles Garrett and the defense will need to step up big to limit the Browns offensively.
Speaking of the Browns offense, Flacco and Amari Cooper have already torched the Texans secondary in the team’s Week 16 matchup in which Cooper hauled in 11 catches for 265 yards in a Browns’ 36-22 victory. Flacco ended up with 368 passing yards and three touchdowns in that game, which leads to the second storyline in this game. Can Flacco continue his revival and lead a hungry Browns team to a deep playoff run?
Watch and find out!
Cleveland Browns vs Houston Texans kickoff details: How to watch, betting odds
Date: Saturday, January 13, 2024
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: Houston, Texas
Venue: NRG Stadium
Live Stream: Fubo TV (try for free)
Betting Odds: Cleveland Browns -2 (via DraftKings)
Browns player props: Bet Joe Flacco Under 271.5 passing yards
It will be hard to bet against Flacco in any playoff situation, but he doesn’t have to have a big game with his arm to lead the Browns to a playoff road victory against a Houston Texans team that could have trouble scoring against a Cleveland defense led by Myles Garrett.
In fact, this Browns team is much like the Baltimore Ravens teams Flacco led during his prime. A strong defensive team that relies much on the running game and explosive plays, the veteran quarterback will have an opportunity to make the big throws when necessary. Although Flacco did torch the Texans for 368 yards in their Week 16 matchup, that won’t be the case in this one as the Texans will adjust defensively and look towards a little revenge. That doesn’t mean a bad game out of Flacco, just means the big, explosive plays will be limited.
Texans player props: Bet C.J. Stroud Over 1.5 passing touchdowns
As Stroud proved against the Indianapolis Colts, he is not afraid of the big stage. Well, he proved that at Ohio State. But the rookie quarterback has entered the NFL season as advertised and has led the Houston Texans to the playoffs after a last place finish a season ago.
When it comes to experience, Flacco obviously holds the edge over Stroud, but all eyes will be on Stroud as he looks to shine in his playoff debut. It will be tough with Garrett quarterback hunting, but Stroud will throw for a couple of touchdowns in this Wild Card matchup. Wil it be enough to get past the Browns is the big watch and see.
GameDay Prediction: There will be enough offense in this one but expect it to eventually turn into a defensive slugfest with the Texans looking to get a little revenge after the Browns torched them in their Week 16 battle. Texans edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. will need a big game as will the entire defensive line in limiting the Browns’ run game. While Stroud will have his moments, Flacco will make key throws to help rally the Browns to a second half comeback win after the Texans go up early in the first half: Cleveland Browns 21, Houston Texans 17.