Packers hope to avoid sleeping on winless Browns

Packers Brett Hundley vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

GREEN BAY, WI – DECEMBER 03: Brett Hundley #7 of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass during the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lambeau Field on December 3, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

There are no givens in the National Football League.   With the Packers’ playoff pulse still beating as they face the winless Cleveland Browns Sunday, Green Bay fans may remember some painful losses from the past against underdogs on the road.
 
In December 2011, the bottom-feeder Chiefs unleashed a barrage of blitz packages to stymie Aaron Rodgers and the vaunted Packers offense in a 19-14 upset in Kansas City during a franchise-best 15-1 season.
 
In mid-November 1997, the lowly Colts outgunned Brett Favre and the Packers, 41-38, in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis during a 13-3 season.
 
Yes, the Browns are winless in 12 games in 2017.  Yes, the 6-6 Green Bay Packers need a victory to keep their fading postseason hopes alive and the possibility of Aaron Rodgers being under center next week against the Carolina Panthers.
 
But no, games are not won on paper and the Packers are not taking the Browns lightly on their home turf.
 
As former Chicago Bears and ESPN analyst Mike Ditka put it, “You better not look past anyone in the NFL.  All you can control is your play this week, no matter what the records are.  The Packers have to take it one game at a time.”
 
Some national pundits are picking Cleveland to upset Green Bay, which has struggled in the passing game with Brett Hundley under center.
 
One bright note with Rodgers out and Hundley struggling in getting the football downfield to playmakers such as Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb has been the emergence of rookie running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams.
 
Green Bay’s pass-first offense has relied heavily on the run to take pressure off Hundley, who has saved some of his best plays for the end of games or overtime.   The third-year quarterback made some clutch passes in the fourth quarter of a victory at Chicago and some timely first-down runs on read-option plays in overtime last week against Tampa Bay at Lambeau Field.
 
It was an ugly victory, but one the Packers desperately needed.  Just like Sunday in Cleveland.
 
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This one will be a testament to the Packers’ team fortitude—another must win, this time on the road.  Surging running game with Williams/Jones faces stern test with Cleveland’s run defense, ranked seventh in NFL.  Hundley makes enough plays to get the job done.
Packers 24, Browns 17

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