In this Feb. 3, 2019, file photo, New England Patriots' Tom Brady (12) passes under pressure from Los Angeles Rams' Aaron Donald (99) during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game in Atlanta. The Rams, the defending NFC champions, with an offense teeming with talent and defense led by incomparable star tackle Donald, will visit Cleveland in the Browns first nationally televised Sunday night game in 11 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
CLEVELAND (AP) The Browns passed their first prime-time test. The second one won't be nearly as easy.
Here come Aaron Donald and those big, bad Los Angeles Rams.
The defending NFC champions, with an offense teeming with talent and defense led by incomparable star tackle Donald, will visit Cleveland in the Browns' first nationally televised Sunday night game in 11 years.
On Monday night, the Browns (1-1) bounced back from a dreadful 30-point loss in their season opener to Tennessee by bullying the New York Jets, who were already missing quarterback Sam Darnold when his replacement, Trevor Simiean, went down with a season-ending injury.
The uber-hyped Browns, who have gone from winless two years ago to somewhat overexposed in 2019, get a chance to see how they stack up to a legitimate Super Bowl contender, one fixated on winning an NFL title this season.
''It'll be a challenge and we'll be able to really measure where we're at as a team,'' said Browns guard Joel Bitonio. ''Now it's a true team, a true playoff team, a team that was in the Super Bowl, a team that we can see, `Hey, how are the Cleveland Browns this year?'''
It's hard to gauge them to this point. The Browns were undisciplined in Week 1, committing 18 penalties and allowing the Titans to score 28 unanswered points in the second half. Cleveland cleaned things up considerably against the Jets, but quarterback Baker Mayfield had his second straight shaky performance and the Browns suffered a couple major injuries that may force first-year coach Freddie Kitchens to play rookies in key spots.
That could help the Rams (2-0), not that they really need any.
Quarterback Jared Goff and the Los Angeles offense have had some issues, but Donald and the rest of the defense are playing at a high level already. They shut down New Orleans last week, helped by Donald inadvertently sidelining Saints quarterback Drew Brees with a thumb injury.
Browns star Odell Beckham Jr. said Donald will have everyone's attention.
''There's no way to even go around him,'' said Beckham. ''He's probably the best player in the league. If not the best player in the league, one of the most disruptive players I've ever seen. So, yeah, No. 99 has to be accounted for. The game plan starts right there. They have a lot of other stars, a lot of very, very talented, great players, but it starts with 99.
''So we have to get that handled, and we're going to be tested in every position.''
The two-time AP Defensive Player of the Year, Donald has no sacks and just two tackles through two games. The numbers are deceiving as teams are scheming to stay clear of Donald. The Browns will probably do the same.
''Everybody is sliding to him,'' defensive end Michael Brockers said. ''He's going to get a lot of attention, and that's what's happening now. It's leaving a lot of opportunities for other guys to make plays. As the season goes on, they're going to have to pick their poison on which guys to block, and that's when it's going to get really fun.''
It didn't get fun for Donald until Week 4 last year. He have record a sack in his first three games and still finished with 20 1/2.
Mayfield has been guilty of holding onto the ball too long, and not taking advantage of receivers being open while trying to complete long passes.
He's still getting into a rhythm with Beckham, who sat out the preseason but showed why he's elite on Monday by scoring on an 89-yard play.
''It's a learning curve,'' said Mayfield, who while not as accurate as usual has still completed 60 percent of his throws. ''Needing to know when I can take my shots and check the ball down to get completions. It's a little difficult at times but, like I keep harping on, I just need to get completions.''
The Browns could exploit inexperience up front for the Rams, who are likely to have three untested starters on their offensive line.
Right guard Austin Blythe is unlikely to play due to a left ankle sprain. If he becomes the first starting offensive lineman to miss a game due to injury in McVay's tenure, sixth-round pick Jamil Demby is expected to make his first start alongside fellow 2018 draft choices Brian Allen at center and Joe Noteboom at left guard.
Allen and Noteboom will be making their third career starts. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right tackle Rob Havenstein haven't been spectacular so far this season, either.
Rams running back Todd Gurley has fond memories of the team's last meeting with the Browns: Gurley scored his first two NFL touchdowns against Cleveland during a 128-yard performance as a rookie in St. Louis in 2015.
Gurley is a quiet ninth in the league this season with 160 yards rushing on 30 attempts. Backup Malcolm Brown has 17 carries as the Rams attempt to lessen the load on Gurley, who leads the NFL in yards rushing since the start of the 2017 season. Gurley has insisted his knee is fine and he's ready for any workload.
Free-agent TE Eric Tomlinson (Giants) signed an undisclosed deal with the New England Patriots Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay pulled in five catches (nine targets) for 121 yards in the loss to the Packers on Monday night. Johnson continues to be involved heavily, and with at least eight looks from quarterback Matthew Stafford in each game this season, the 25-year-old has established himself as a top fantasy wideout in 2019. The Lions will face a tough Vikings Defense in Week 7, but Golladay should continue to retain his must-start tag moving forward.
Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson rushed for 34 yards and a touchdown on 13 attempts in the loss to the Packers on Monday. After accumulating at least 20 carries throughout his last two games, Johnson took a step in the wrong direction, and had he not scored, this performance would have been considered another failure. With just three total touchdowns on the year to go along with a subpar 3.3 yards per carry, Johnson's outlook doesn't look favorable against a tough Vikings Defense in Week 7.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford finished with 265 yards on 18-for-32 passing in the loss to the Packers on Monday. The veteran still played relatively well despite failing to throw a touchdown and had it not been for rookie mistakes from tight end T.J. Hockenson, the story would have been different. With Week 6 in the books, things will get tougher for Stafford against a tough Vikings Defense on Sunday.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham pulled in just two of his five targets for 17 yards during the Monday night win over the Lions. With Marquez Valdes-Scantling (leg) and Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest) both missing some time in this one, fantasy managers were hoping for an increase in production. That did not happen. If Davante Adams (toe), Allison, or Valdes-Scantling miss more time moving ahead, look for Graham to see a slight uptick in looks from Aaron Rodgers. However, continue to expect the worst and hope for the best from week-to-week.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling finished with two catches for 48 yards in the win over the Lions on Monday night. Valdes-Scantling would briefly exit this one after injuring his leg but would return to haul in a 46-yard catch to offset his lack of fantasy progress up to that point. With Davante Adams (toe) and Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest) potentially not playing against the Raiders on Sunday, the 25-year-old could see an increased role in Week 7.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest) hauled in three catches (seven targets) for 40 yards in the win over the Lions on Monday night. After leading the way in looks from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the 25-year-old would exit the game prematurely in the second half. He did not return. With Allison's status for Sunday's showdown with the Raiders in question, fantasy managers will want to monitor his progress throughout the week.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams ran for 104 yards on 14 carries to go along with four catches in the win over the Lions. After Aaron Jones fumbled and dropped a wide-open pass from Aaron Rodgers that would have led to a score, Williams was inserted and made the most of it. Though the 24-year-old will likely continue as the No. 1 option out of the backfield, Williams may have some value against the Raiders on Sunday. If Davante Adams (toe), Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest), or Marquez Valdes-Scantling (leg) aren't able to suit up in Week 7, look for Jones to get more looks as a receiver, with Williams coming in for relief, especially on rushing downs.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones ran for 47 yards on 11 carries in addition to four receptions for 13 yards in the win over the Lions. It was a much different performance than the four-touchdown outing that Jones had against the Cowboys in Week 5, and while it wasn't a horrible performance, he did fumble and drop a wide-open, 33-yard toss from Aaron Rodgers that would have led to a score. Jamal Williams did get some touches, rushing for 104 yards on 14 carries to go along with a few receptions after Jones hit the sidelines, but expect the 24-year-old to reclaim his role as the No. 1 option against the Raiders in Week 7.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went 22-for-39 for 283 yards and a touchdown in the narrow win over the Lions on Monday night. Though he did throw an interception, it was an acceptable performance for the signal-caller who was without top receiver Devante Adams (toe), while also dealing with the in-game losses of Marquez Valdes-Scantling (leg) and Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest). Despite the injuries on the offensive end, Rodgers' outlook against the Raiders in Week 7 is still promising.
Green Bay Packers TE Marcedes Lewis ended with two catches for 50 yards on two targets in Week 6 against the Detroit Lions.
Fantasy Spin: Lewis outperformed starter Jimmy Graham, who converted just two of his five targets. Neither is particularly attractive from a fantasy perspective outside of deeper leagues heading into Week 7 against the Oakland Raiders.
Green Bay Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling finished with two catches and 48 yards in Week 6 against the Detroit Lions. He left the game briefly due to an undisclosed injury, but was able to return and finish.
Fantasy Spin: Valdes-Scantling made a highlight-reel catch in the victory, but it was Allen Lazard who actually found the end zone while stepping up for Geronimo Allison, who left injured. MVS might operate as the No. 1 wideout in Week 7 against the Oakland Raiders if Allison and Davante Adams are each sidelined.
Green Bay Packers RB Jamaal Williams ran 14 times for 104 yards in Week 6 against the Detroit Lions, and he had four grabs for 32 yards and a touchdown. His last run was almost a touchdown, as the Lions were going to allow him to score so they could get the ball back, but he gave himself up at the 1-yard line rather than score.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy owners can't complain too much, as he hit triple digits and had the receiving score, but the selfless play at the end cost them some points. He picked up the slack with Aaron Jones having a forgettable game. The Packers host the Raiders in Week 7.
Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones rushed 11 times for 47 yards with a fumble lost in Week 6 against the Detroit Lions. He also had four grabs for 13 yards on seven targets, but he dropped a sure touchdown downfield, too.
Fantasy Spin: Jones had a giant performance in Dallas last week, but he fell back to Earth in a big way in this one, and Jamaal Williams took advantage and stepped up his play. Jones remains a decent RB2 or flex fantasy option heading into Week 7 against the Oakland Raiders as he looks to bounce back.
Detroit Lions S Tavon Wilson posted five total tackles with a fumble recovery in the Week 6 game against the Green Bay Packers on Monday, Oct. 14.
Green Bay Packers LB Preston Smith managed four total stops with 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hit in the Week 6 game against the Detroit Lions.
Green Bay Packers DE Za'Darius Smith posted five total stops with a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit in the Week 6 game against the Detroit Lions.
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers completed 24-of-39 passes for 283 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the Week 6 game against the Detroit Lions while running for 10 yards.
Fantasy Spin: Rodgers should have had a touchdown to Aaron Jones, who dropped a pass while he was wide open and headed for a score. He was also dealing with a banged up receivers corps, losing Geronimo Allison, while Davante Adams was sidelined for a second straight game. Still, he worked through it and had a nice fantasy line. The Packers will look to keep it going against the Oakland Raiders in Week 7.
Detroit Lions WR Danny Amendola (chest) was able to play in the Week 6 game against the Green Bay Packers and he finished with a grab for six yards on his only target.
Fantasy Spin: Amendola was back and healthy enough to play, but he did next to nothing. Fantasy owners, even in deeper PPR leagues, cannot trust him until he starts to show more consistency. The Lions host the Vikings in Week 7.
Detroit Lions WR Marvin Hall had just one catch and one target in the Week 6 game against the Green Bay Packers and it was good for a 58-yard reception.
Fantasy Spin: Hall obviously needs more targets and production before he can be relied upon outside of deeper fantasy leagues. The Lions host the Vikings in Week 7.