The Bye Week is on the horizon. The Browns are really banged up. Colt McCoy is getting his second straight start, this week against the Super Bowl Champs. The “new” Browns actually have a winning record against the Saints, including their first win as an expansion team in 1999, and a convincing win in 2002. The Saints won the last matchup on opening day in 2006.
The Saints’ offense has the potential to be destructive to a weak secondary such as the one the Browns have been trotting out. Drew Brees plays QB at a level the Browns haven’t really yet seen this year. The Browns have question marks at WR—moreso—and are giving Colt McCoy his second straight start. Without further ado…
The Browns Will Win If…
Craig: …they can run all over the Saints. The Saints seem to have found their offensive stride a week ago against the Buccaneers. They ran for over 150 yards and had three passing touchdowns. The Browns are going to have to limit the big play from the Saints and also control the clock with their running game if they have any hopes of winning. Considering they put Pashos on the IR, it might turn out to be a difficult request. Hopefully Peyton Hillis is healthy and ready to go. The Browns are going to need him this week more than any other week so far this season.
Scott: …the pass defense plays out of their minds. Eric Wright, Sheldon Brown and Joe Haden will have their hands full this week. With the Brees spread-the-ball-around offense, the Browns cannot afford to double-team many receiving options. Unfortunately, I think this is going to lead to a lot of scheme-based zone blitzes and if they are not effective right out of the gate, it could be a long, long day. Losing Robaire Smith could prove costly in this regard – it will be interesting to see how much play Shaun Rogers gets at the end. On the offensive side of things, while New Orleans’ defensive backfield is a bit banged up, I think the Browns will provide the same sort of attack as last week – perhaps with few new plays thanks to another week of work with the “ones.” They’ll have to be physical on offense, providing a lot of Hillis, Vickers and Mike Bell in the backfield. I actually expect really good things from Chansi Stuckey this week, so here’s hoping he doesn’t let me down. But in the end, it’s going to come down to the defense. A few caused turnovers can turn this one right around.
DP: …they can—stop me if you’ve heard this before—run the ball, control the clock, minimize mistakes, and play good enough defense to win. That last one is going to be tough, because the Browns’ much-maligned secondary is going to get its toughest test of the season to this point, in my opinion. If the Browns can run the ball and protect Colt McCoy enough to let some of the short and intermediate routes he was hitting last week open up, they should be able to move the ball. But, they have to score points. They can’t shoot themselves in the foot with penalties and turnovers. On defense, the line needs to get some push, and they need to get some non-blitz pressure on Drew Brees, otherwise he will pick them apart. I don’t know if the Browns can make that happen, sadly.
Rick: …the defense has the game of their lives. Particularly the secondary. These wide outs are the best we’ve seen this season, and Brees is the best QB we’ve seen this year as well. The Browns could manage to scheme some pressure this week as the Saints like to send 4 and 5 out in the pattern. Maybe if they can get to Brees early they have a shot? The offense should find things a little easier this week than last, but that is assuming that they get at least Cribbs back. With or without him they will again need to pound Hillis. Colt needs to take care of the ball limiting New Orleans’ opportunities.
Andrew: …the Browns secondary plays their best game of the season by far. By no means has Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense been the same efficient monster it was last season, but the Saints still have tons of capable receivers and Brees loves spreading the ball around to all of them. Last week in their 31-6 dismantling of the Buccaneers in Tampa, 10 different New Orleans players had receptions with Meachem leading the way with just 4 catches. In other words, if you give Brees even the slightest opening, he will find the receiver no matter how low in the progression his read is. The Browns pass coverage has been disastrous this year, and they will arguably face no bigger test than this week in New Orleans. If the Browns can stick with the NO WR’s and not let Chris Ivory go off like he did last week, I believe the Browns can have some success throwing on the Saints and have a chance in this game. The Saints love to blitz and blitz often, which can sometimes leave them exposed to passes to the TEs. If McCoy can build on the poise he showed last week and hit his TEs and Peyton Hillis out of the backfield, it will probably give the Browns their best chance of success this week.
TD: …a bolt of lightning strikes Drew Brees and he is unable to go and that same bolt turns Colt McCoy into Drew Brees, then we’ve got a great shot. Simple and plain. In all seriousness, McCoy needs to do what he did in Pittsburgh, stay calm and minimize the mistakes. A healthy dose of Peyton Hillis should also be in the works. Defensively, I don’t know how they will be able to slow Brees and company, but it has to be with front four pressure. He’ll kill the Rob Ryan blitzes.
What say, there, fuzzy britches?