I stared at my computer for about 45 seconds before starting to type this lead. What to say? Do I make a “Quinn’s broken finger” joke? Go with something about TK NK relative to Monday night’s game? How about a tasteful Phil Savage [bleep] you joke? In truth, thinking about it just made me tired, and made me decide to write a lead that has nothing to do with anything at all.
It seems like we always end up playing the Texans every single year, and it is usually a game between two teams circling the drain. The Browns are coming off a took-years-off-of-my-life win against perhaps the only NFL team with worse mojo than Cleveland. Can the Browns tackle Steve Slaton? Will Sage Rosenfels fumble a few times trying to get that extra yard again? Will Jerome Harrison get *gasp* 5 touches?? Without further ado…
The Browns Will Win If…
Craig: …they can win the battle for the line of scrimmage. Each week it feels like I am focusing on only one thing that the Browns struggle with, when I could be spending 27 paragraphs talking about ALL the Browns’ problems. This week, I am concerned by both the offensive and defensive lines. The Texans have some dangerous weapons on the D-line and in the backfield. Steve Slaton is having a Rookie of the Year type season, and Mario Williams and his eight sacks are continuing to make the Texans look good for passing over Gayle Sayers, errr, I mean Reggie Bush in the draft a couple years ago. So, if the Browns want to win, they will need to do all the things right that they usually do wrong, starting with the offensive and defensive lines. Oh and maybe a linebacker or two should make a tackle without letting a running back “slip” through for an additional 7 yards.
Scott: …if Brady Quinn’s finger is alright enough to throw the ball, and our receivers are competent enough to catch it. I’m concerned about Winslow’s shoulder, and with Heiden dinged up as well, our short passing game could be in trouble. Edwards and Stallworth will need to step up (or even just step) to help this team out. I hate to rely on another Brandon McDonald shutdown of Andre Johnson as that will be easier said than done. Our defense will do what it does…we just need to hold our own on the offensive end. Continue to not turn the ball over and just make calculated, efficient plays.
DP: …they have an answer for Steve Slaton. As I said several times in Monday night’s live blog, the Bills’ offense averaged 90 yards per game rushing going into that game, and they shredded the Browns’ defense for 186 yards on the ground. Houston is currently 5th in the league in yards per game (370.1, 5th passing, 15th rushing). I don’t see much of a rush defense on the Browns’ right now, and this is the time of year a team needs to be able to stop the run. In addition, the prospect of Andre Johnson running amok in the secondary is downright scary. Houston not having Schaub helps, but there hasn’t been anything that I take from the Browns’ last three games to encourage me overall. The Browns need to hope that their long injury list isn’t detrimental: is Quinn’s finger healthy enough to make him effective, and if not will we see DA? Is Jerome Harrison going to play? Is Shaun Rogers close enough to 100% to play enough to make the impact we need him to make? Is Kellen Winslow’s shoulder going to hold him back? There are just too many question marks for me here, and that doesn’t even touch Jamal Lewis’s ineffectiveness and Braylon Edwards lack of hands. The Browns had a +4 turn-over margin on Monday against a mediocre team, and it still came down to a missed field goal with 30 seconds to salt the win away. This does not bode well, friends.
RockKing: …the defense can remember how to tackle. Without Matt Schaub, the Texans will rely heavily on Steve Slaton, who tore up the Colts last week. If the Browns continue to just pretend like they are playing touch football, the Texans will be able to control this game. The Texans are pretty bad at stopping the run themselves, so hopefully Jamal Lewis can establish the Browns run game and perhaps he can finally break the 100 yard mark for the first time this season. Obviously we’ll want to keep a close eye on Brady Quinn’s finger and see how much it affects his accuracy and velocity. If Quinn’s finger is holding him back, I’m afraid the Browns will have to go back to DA. No matter who the QB is, though, it’s important that they not turn the ball over, because the gameplan should be to control the game on the ground with Lewis. If the QBs are turning the ball over, though, it will change all that and the Browns will have to rely on their air game to get back into it. Above all else, though, the #1 key for me is to contain Slaton and stop the Texans from running. Make them one dimensional, and make them throw on you. It’s the only way I think the Browns can win this one.
Mike: …the Browns defense can manage to lasso Texans running back Steve Slaton -zing! How the defense handles Andre Johnson is a mystery to me. Last year, Brandon McDonald came out of nowhere to shut the guy down. With the down year McDonald is having, can we really see that happening again? I’m still not convinced Brady Quinn will be playing in the cold with a broken index finger. Either way, the Browns will be relying on Jamal Lewis to keep the ball moving. If last year is a measuring stick, Lewis should be hitting that time of year when he really earns his paycheck.
What does everyone else think?