The Cleveland Browns just cannot buy a win in 2016, having lost their first three games. They will look to change that Sunday, when they head to Landover to face Washington. The Browns are coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins that could have been prevented were it not for a missed Cody Parkey field goal at the end of regulation. Parkey has only made three of six field goal attempts so far this season, and coach Hue Jackson may be hesitant to use his kicker if this game ends up close.
The Browns may have lost quarterback Robert Griffin III for the season and thus deprived Washington fans of the chance to see their former quarterback return to FedEx Field, but third-stringer Cody Kessler threw for 244 yards while filling in for backup Josh McCown. Kessler was pressured on 36 percent of his dropbacks, so he will need better protection in the pocket to make the Browns’ passing game move.
The key for the Browns, however, will be the performance of resurgent QB-turned-wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, who has done it all for the Browns so far. Pryor leads the Browns with 300 total yards this season after coming off a game in which he accumulated 144 receiving yards on eight catches, 21 rushing yards, and 35 passing yards. Pryor may be the QB in wildcat formations and occasionally in the red zone, but will primarily be the team’s chief deep receiving threat. He may have a tough time duplicating his performance this week, however, as Washington will likely line up Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman against him this week.
Washington earned its first win last Sunday against the New York Giants, but it has had to negotiate a series of injuries to many starters. The defense should suffer now that it has been announced that safety DeAngelo Hall will be out for the season with a torn ACL. Jay Gruden may need to hope his backups can carry the load for his team’s secondary. No. 2 cornerback Bashaud Breeland is likely out of Sunday’s matchup since he is listed as week-to-week with a high ankle sprain.
Washington’s receiving corps may also be diminished Sunday, as both DeSean Jackson and Josh Doctson missed practice time this week. Jackson is listed as questionable for Sunday with knee and ankle injuries, while Doctson is nursing a recurring Achilles injury.
The injuries have also spread to the offensive line. Starting center Kory Lichtensteiger is now on injured reserve and left guard Shawn Lauvao is week-to-week with an ankle injury. Gruden has had to shift around the offensive line, with Spencer Long starting at center and Arie Kouandjio at left guard.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins has racked up the passing yards early on this season, with 989 passing yards, good for second among all quarterbacks. He has spread out the receiving game so far, with four targets (Jackson, Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder, and Pierre Garcon) topping 100 receiving yards already this season. But he hasn’t looked particularly sharp, with three touchdowns and three interceptions so far this season.
Cousins may have a challenge this week if Browns cornerback Joe Haden, who already has two interceptions and five deflections, returns after missing last week with a groin injury.
How to watch
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Place: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
Announcers: Spero Dedes, Solomon Willcots, Stacy Dales
Online: Sunday Ticket