What a difference three weeks can make. Before the Saints game, I was dreading these three games (Saints, Patriots, and Jets), thinking they would all end horribly badly for the Browns. And now, here we sit on the Friday before the Jets game with a legitimate chance to go 3-0 through this tough, tough portion of the schedule. Oh, and #17 is comin’ back, baby! Getcha Michigan hatred ready!
The Jets’ defense is solid; they’re 6th in the league in yards-allowed per game, and 3rd in the league in points-allowed per game. Their bread and butter on offense is the ground game, as they’re currently fourth in the league at 148.0 rushing yards per game. The Browns counter that with the 15th ranked rushing defense, surrendering 105.9 yards per game on the ground; however, they’ve allowed just 126 TOTAL rushing yards in the past two games. Rob Ryan! Rex Ryan! Eric Mangini and his former team! Braylon and the fans that love to hate him! Let’s get it on!! Without further ado…
The Browns Will Win If…
Craig: …they can make Mark Sanchez look like the quarterback I think he is. I know he has shown some flashes and has some nice receivers, but I think he can be rattled. The Browns need to find a way to get to him, and hopefully Marcus Benard is ready to go. Obviously the Browns could have some difficulty moving the ball on offense, meaning that this could be a drawn out defensive slugfest. That being the case, the Browns MUST stop the Jets passing game from hurting them.
Scott: …they continue to do more of the same. I hate to go back to the same card week after week, but the turnover differential is huge. If they can continue to force the other team to make mistakes while not making any of their own, the Browns will be in a very good place. Mark Sanchez is easily the worst quarterback this Browns defense has faced since Week 4’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Sure, Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and LaDanian Tomlinson will provide a bit of an issue, but forcing Sanchez to throw the ball will be key. I do fear that the Jets will opt for a bit more of Shonn Greene this week, and if that’s the case, stopping the run will be integral. Third-and-longs should be the goal for Rob Ryan’s boys. With regard to the offense, even Peyton Hillis will not be given any wiggle room from the fans if he coughs up the ball. He and Colt McCoy will need to continue pounding the ball, but I foresee a lot more running from spread formations to make sure that the eight- and nine-man fronts are kept to a minimum. It remains to be seen if this team has any more trick plays in their bag, but they may need one or two of them this week. It’s a totally winnable game, as long as the Browns don’t shoot themselves in the collective foot.
DP: …they can keep dancing with the girl that brung them. They’ve won these past two games by playing defense, and by creating an offensive game plan that it well-suited to the opponent. Gone is the square-peg-round-hole attempts to move the ball on offense. Colt McCoy is playing well, not making mistakes, and leading this team in the huddle. But, the Jets are a different animal on defense. The Browns’ defense was solid against the Patriots, though they got some help from poor play by Tom Brady. I believe they can force Mark Sanchez into the same kind of game, and it would be nice if they can contain #17 (or, if he elects to contain himself by dropping a ton of passes). Peyton Hillis needs to have one more "hero" game in his body, as this Jets’ defense is a tough defense to run on (only 87.4 yards allowed per game). So: on offense, control the clock, don’t turn the ball over, and hope that Brian Daboll has a few more well-timed trick plays up his sleeve to keep Rex Ryan and the Jets off balance. On defense, hope that the Browns can slow the run game down enough to make Mark Sanchez beat them, and hope that he doesn’t have the chops to do it.
Rick: …they can (once again) control the tempo and style of play, and don’t give the ball away. Both of these teams want to run the ball and use the pass to mix things up. The difference will be who is able to control the line of scrimmage in the running game. If the Browns get behind by more than 2 scores it may be difficult for them to catch up, so jumping out to another early lead is important. The Browns have managed to stay at least even with teams all season in the first quarter. In fact, the Browns haven’t allowed a single point on the opposing teams’ opening drive. 8 games, 6 punts, 1 interceptions (Pittsburgh) and 1 fumble recovery (New England) on opening drives. Very impressive. Let’s keep that string alive.
Andrew: …Colt McCoy has a big day. The Browns may find running the ball on the tough Jets rush defense a little more difficult than it was against the Patriots’ weak defense, but McCoy can help make things easier by continuing to make big plays on 3rd down, escaping the pocket when needed, and not throwing into coverage. The most remarkable thing about the Patriots game was that not only did McCoy not throw any INT’s, but I don’t recall him even throwing one ball that was in danger of the opposing player making a play on the ball. Once again, I just feel in my gut that the Browns’ defense can make enough plays to keep the offense in it, and from there they will need McCoy to make some plays to open things up for Thunder Hillis. The last key, in my opinion, is to not abandon the running game early if the Jets are having success slowing the Browns down. The Browns shouldn’t have to rely solely on McCoy. They just need him to make some plays to open things up for Hillis on the ground.
TD: …they win the turnover battle and run the ball. Now, these are getting fun! Against the Saints, I made a joke about Drew Brees needing to struck by lightning. Against the Patriots, I said the Browns were so due to get blown out. So now where do I go? The truth is they Browns can win this game if they win the turnover battle and are able to run the ball consistently with Peyton Hillis against one of the best D’s in the league. If Colt McCoy can duplicate last week’s performance, that would be great too. Defensively, just do not get beaten by Braylon Edwards deep. Nothing would make me more sick. The Jets want to run to set up the pass, so keeping LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene should be a priority. Also, I smell a return TD from Josh Cribbs. We are long overdue.
What say, there, fuzzy britches?