A look at Nick Chubb and the Cleveland Browns, up next for the Falcons

FLOWERY BRANCH — In what could be an old-school throwback game, the Falcons (1-2) will host the Cleveland Browns (2-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The game will feature two of the NFL’s top three rushers. The game plans likely will not call for either of the quarterbacks to throw 63 times as Buffalo did against Miami on Sunday.

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Cleveland’s Nick Chubb, who starred at Georgia, leads the league with 341 yards rushing on 61 carries. The Falcons’ Cordarrelle Patterson has rushed for 302 yards and trails only Chubb and New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who’s rushed for 317 yards.

“Everybody sees the tape; it’s going to be a really physical game on Sunday,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “They’re going to try to run Nick Chubb 500 times, and we got to stop him.”

Chubb is well rested after helping the Browns defeat the Steelers 29-17 on Thursday. Chubb rushed 23 times for 113 yards and a touchdown to help carry the offense.

The Browns are close to 50% run and 50% pass in total yards gained. The Browns have 572 yards rushing and 596 passing.

The Falcons have 470 yards rushing and 640 yards passing.

“We’re going to try to run the ball and play our game, too,” Smith said.

Over the offseason, both teams pursued quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Falcons were considered the leaders in the clubhouse, before the Browns jumped back into the derby with a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million deal.

Watson is serving an 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy. The Browns have turned to Jacoby Brissett as their place-holder quarterback.

Brissett has completed 61 of 92 passes (66.3%) for 596 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. He has a passer rating of 94.3.

Brissett was drafted in the third round (91st overall) by New England in 2016. He played for the Colts from 2017-20. He was with Miami last season.

Brissett, who played at N.C. State, is 16-24 as an NFL starter.

The Browns knew they needed a quality backup after signing Watson and trading former starter Baker Mayfield.

“You call former teammates, former coaches, that type of thing to just get a feel for the person,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said to the Cleveland media Monday. “When you’re looking at (a) player, there is tape. You can watch the tape. But that doesn’t tell the full story. You’ve got to get to know the person as well.”

All things checked out with Brissett’s background.

“He’s a pro,” Stefanski said. “Good teammate. He’s been through a lot. He’s been through a bunch of different situations.”

Brissett had one of his better games against the Falcons. On Sept. 22, 2019, Brissett led the Colts to a 27-24 win. He completed 28 of 37 passes for 310 yards and finished with a 118.1 passer rating.

Brissett has calmly stepped into the starting role for the Browns.

“I think that’s a good trait to have for a quarterback, backup quarterback or starting quarterback,” Stefanski said of his low-key demeanor. “That’s good because you do go through so much in this league. Week to week, quarter to quarter. So, I think it’s a good trait.”

The Falcons are expecting a major rumble with the Browns.

“We got a huge challenge this week against Cleveland, their front, aggressive front, penetrating front,” Smith said. “We know everybody knows about Myles Garrett, and they’ll be ready to roll.”

Garrett, the Browns’ three-time Pro Bowl defensive end, was in a car accident Monday. He has non-life-threatening injuries, but his status for the game is unknown.

Cleveland defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (ankle injury) did not play against the Steelers and could miss the Falcons game. If Clowney and Garrett do not play, the Browns could turn to rookies Alex Wright and Isaiah Thomas.

Wright was drafted in the third round out of Alabama-Birmingham and Thomas in the seventh round out of Oklahoma.

Also, the Browns have lost middle linebacker Anthony Walker to a season-ending torn quad tendon injury. He was the team’s signal-caller and was replaced by Jacob Phillips against the Steelers.

“Jacob is a very competitive young man,” Stefanski said. “Played well in the last ballgame. We are going to need him to continue to ascend, get better and those type of things.”

The Browns, considered contenders in the AFC, will not take the Falcons lightly.

“I think it’s a good team,” Stefanski said. “Well-coached. Good players across the board.”

The Browns have been impressed by the Falcons, who have played three one-score games.

“Having watched it this morning and diving into the scheme, I think (they’re) really sound on all three sides of the ball,” Stefanski said. “It’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

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Atlanta Falcons 2022 NFL schedule

Sept. 11: Saints 27, Falcons 26

Sept. 18: Rams 31, Falcons 27

Sept. 25: Falcons 27, Seahawks 23

Sun., Oct. 2, Cleveland, 1 p.m.

Sun., Oct. 9, at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

Sun., Oct. 16 vs. San Francisco, 1 p.m.

Sun., Oct. 23 at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

Sun., Oct. 30 vs. Carolina, 1 p.m.

Sun., Nov. 6 vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 1 p.m.

Thur., Nov. 10 vs. at Carolina, 8:15 p.m.

Sun., Nov. 20 vs. Chicago, 1 p.m.

Sun., Nov. 27 at Washington, 1 p.m.

Sun., Dec. 4 vs. Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.


Sun., Dec. 18 at New Orleans, TBD

Sat., Dec. 24, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

Sun., Jan. 1 vs. Arizona, 1 p.m.

Sun., Jan. 8 vs. Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.