For the second year in a row, the Cleveland Browns have been plagued with COVID-19 the week of a pivotal December matchup. This week’s AFC clash between the Browns and Raiders has now taken a dramatic turn in a game with major playoff implications.
Cleveland currently has roughly 20 of their personnel who have either tested positive or have been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, including both players and staff. Head coach Kevin Stefanski will most likely miss Saturday’s matchup after testing positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday. QB Baker Mayfield has also tested positive for COVID-19 and, without two negative tests, will also miss Saturday’s game. If Mayfield is inactive, veteran QB Case Keenum is set to start.
While this is a big blow to their game preparation, Stefanski is focused on the task at hand. “We need to focus on what we need to do to prepare for Saturday,” he told the media on Wednesday.
The Cleveland offense has taken the most hits and may be without their quarterback, their WR1 in Jarvis Landry, and multiple tight ends and offensive linemen. They will also be without RB Kareem Hunt, who is recovering from an ankle injury.
Even though the Browns are getting hit hard, there are currently no discussions to reschedule or cancel Saturday’s game. The Raiders will have to grab hold of a big opportunity and come out of Cleveland with a win if they want to keep their season alive.
The Silver and Black seem to have avoided the COVID-19 surge that is taking down many other teams this week. While Cleveland is down 11 of their 22 starters, the Raiders will have most of theirs available. The Browns have a chance to climb into first place in the AFC North with a win and a Baltimore loss. A Las Vegas win would mean avoiding falling even further back in the AFC West and keeping their playoff hopes alive for one more week.
Here is the current list of players on the Browns’ Reserve/COVID-19 list.
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