Saints, Browns brace for brutal cold with slim playoff hopes

NEW ORLEANS (5-9) at CLEVELAND (6-8)

Saturday, 1 p.m. EST, CBS.

FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NFL LINE: Browns by 3.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Saints 5-9; Browns 7-7.

SERIES RECORD: Browns lead 13-5.

LAST MEETING: Saints beat Browns 21-18 on Sept. 16, 2018, in New Orleans.

LAST WEEK: Saints beat Falcons 21-18; Browns beat Ravens 13-3.

SAINTS OFFENSE: OVERALL (17), RUSH (21), PASS (12), SCORING (21)

SAINTS DEFENSE: OVERALL (11), RUSH (21), PASS (12), SCORING (16)

BROWNS OFFENSE: OVERALL (8), RUSH (5), PASS (20), SCORING (13)

BROWNS DEFENSE: OVERALL (17), RUSH (24), PASS (12), SCORING (20)

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Saints minus-12; Browns minus-3.

SAINTS PLAYER TO WATCH: TE Juwan Johnson, a converted receiver who was undrafted out of Oregon in 2020, had his third career game with two TDs receiving in Week 15 and leads the Saints in TD catches this season with seven.

BROWNS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Nick Chubb. With snow and heavy winds in the forecast, the Browns’ offensive game plan likely will revolve around Chubb, who has 1,252 yards and 12 rushing TDs. Chubb ran for 99 on 21 carries last week against Baltimore’s solid front. The Saints are allowing 132.6 per game and gave up 231 last week.

KEY MATCHUP: Saints TE/backup QB Taysom Hill vs. Cleveland’s defense. Hill’s versatility as a runner could come into play with the inclement, cold weather supposed to be a major factor. Hill has run for 449 yards and he’s capable of delivering a big pass play.

KEY INJURIES: Saints RG Cesar Ruiz (foot) was placed on injured reserve. … Saints rookie WR Chris Olave (hamstring), who leads the team with 63 receptions, is out. … Saints WR and former Brown Jarvis Landry (ankle) will also miss the game along with LB Peter Werner (hamstring). … Reserve RB Dwayne Washington (illness) remained on the injury report after missing last weekend’s game. … Saints top CB and Cleveland native Marshon Lattimore (abdomen) was limited in practice this week. It was not clear if his extended absence from the lineup would finally end after nine games. … DE Myles Garrett missed two practice days with an unspecified illness. … Browns DE Jadeveon Clowney missed practice time this week after sustaining a concussion against the Ravens. … Chubb (foot) was rested after getting hurt in the win over Baltimore but is expected to play. … Starting Browns C Ethan Pocic (knee) will return after missing four games.

SERIES NOTES: The Browns are 8-3 in Cleveland against the Saints. … Cleveland won the first eight meetings against New Orleans from 1967-81. … Browns coach Kevin Stefanski is 9-3 versus NFC teams in three seasons. … Eleven games have been decided by seven points or fewer.

STATS AND STUFF: It’s supposed to be bone-chilling cold with temperatures in the teens, a wind chill below zero and gusts up to 50 mph. … The Saints are 6-11 all time in games played in 32 degrees or less. … The lowest temperature at kickoff for a New Orleans game was 24 on Dec. 26, 1993, in Philadelphia. … New Orleans has a path to the playoffs, but probably needs to win its final three games to have any chance. … Saints QB Andy Dalton passed for 151 yards and two TDs without an interception for a 132.2 rating in Week 15. Dalton has a 100-plus rating in three of his past four games. … Dalton has 17 starts against Cleveland, passing for 3,546 yards with 28 TDs and 14 interceptions. … RB Alvin Kamara had 104 scrimmage yards (91 rushing, 13 receiving) in Week 15. He has 1,087 scrimmage yards in 2022, his sixth straight season with at least 1,000 yards. Kamara has 426 catches and can pass Roger Craig (434) for the most by a running back in his first six seasons. … Olave ranks second among rookies in receptions (63) and in yards receiving (940). … Rookie WR Rashid Shaheed had a career-high 95 yards, including a 68-yard TD last week. He has two TDs receiving and one rushing, none shorter than 44 yards. … Hill had a 68-yard TD pass last week and became the second player in the Super Bowl era (along with Kordell Stewart) with at least 20 TDs rushing (21), 10 TDs passing and five TDs receiving (nine). … DE Cameron Jordan has 10 tackles for loss in 2022, his eighth straight season with at least that many. … LB Demario Davis has a career-high 6 1/2 sacks. He needs 11 tackles for his sixth straight 100-tackle season. … Saints S Tyrann Mathieu had his 11th career sack in Week 15. … Mathematically, the Browns are still in the playoff hunt, but their chances are infinitesimal. … This will be QB Deshaun Watson’s fourth game, and second start at home, since being reinstated from an 11-game suspension for alleged sexual misconduct. Watson’s completion percentage and rating has improved each week. Watson functioned well in cold weather last week, but this week he’ll have to contend with swirling winds off Lake Erie. … Chubb leads the NFL with 413 yards in the fourth quarter. Chubb has had 16 runs of 10 yards or more in the fourth. … Chubb and Hall of Famer Jim Brown are the only players in team history to have four straight 1,000-yard seasons. … Garrett has 13 1/2 sacks and needs three to break his single-season team record set last season. … Browns rookie K Cade York missed two more field-goal attempts last week, dropping him to 22 of 30 this season. He’s 7 of 10 from 30 to 39 yards. York practiced at FirstEnergy Stadium this week ahead of the game. He’s 9 of 15 on field-goal tries at home.

FANTASY TIP: Passing will be more than a challenge, so look for Chubb and Kamara to get the bulk of touches. Winning his first rushing title appears out of reach for Chubb, but he could set his new season high (1,494 yards).

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