The Browns are coming off a thorough drubbing from which surgeons are still trying to extract the ball from down their throats where the Texans systematically ran it. The competition level gets a little lighter with St. Louis this week, and clearly there will be some, “Hey, you! I know you! I know you!” going on between Pat Shurmur and his former team.
St. Louis is down there with the Browns in terms of overall offense. They’re 23rd in the league with 314.1 yards per game. They are, however, slightly better on the run, at 18th in the league. The Browns’ defense got gashed on the ground, and will be without TJ Ward. Yikes. Without further ado…
The Browns Will Win If…
Editor’s note: Similar to the pats weeks, we have started things off with sharing some takes with our audience over at Still WFNY – please feel free to head over to Cleveland.com to partake.
Daniel Wolf (National Football Authority): …they can shut down running back Steven Jackson, who is the biggest weapon St. Louis has. The key to the game is the fact Pat Shurmur knows the Rams inside and out—from his time as their offensive coordinator the past two seasons. Shurmur should be able to predict the Rams’ defensive play calling by knowing their trends and he should be able to give Browns defensive coordinator, Dick Jauron, lots of tips on their offensive unit too. Who knows if Shurmur can properly plan for any team though, and facing his former team is a true test of his ability to coach and prepare the Browns against a team he is all-too-familiar with.
Scott: …they’re willing to take another 6-3 victory for the mere sake of adding another “W” to their resume. With fourth- and fifth-string running backs carrying the load on offense, a rookie seventh-round draft pick holding down center field on the defensive side, and a quarterback who is lucky to not have been decapitated a week earlier, the Orange and Brown will have to be willing to win ugly. The front seven will have to load up and focus on Steven Jackson; it goes without saying that this team can ill afford a repeat of last week’s shellacking at the hands of the Houston running game. He’ll be tough to bring down – have you seen the latest ESPN Bodies issue? It’ll take a team effort. Joe Haden can set up shop on Brandon Lloyd, the rest of the defense will have to step up and keep the ball in the hands of Colt McCoy as often as possible. Who knows, maybe a few of these Phil Dawson 50-yarders can turn into a touchdown. A kid can dream.
Craig: …they play a cleaner game than St. Louis. I don’t think this is going to be an especially pretty game. I can easily see it going to the team that commits the fewest penalties, turnovers and special teams mistakes. The Browns obviously need to keep Steven Jackson bottled up. The Rams obviously need to keep Phil Dawson bottled up. After that, it will just come down to which team can play mistake-free. Then again, maybe it will be another one of those games where the Rams are up 14-9 in the fourth quarter and Colt McCoy again punishes a prevent defense on the way to a 16-14 win.
DP: …they don’t let Steven Jackson do what the Texans’ backs did last week. Sam Bradford struggled last week against the Cardinals, which tells me that if the Browns’ secondary can play its cards right they can slow down the passing game. Though, if the Rams watched any film of the Browns/Texans game they may elect not to pass at all. If the Browns can slow down Jackson, they have a chance. That’s really what it comes down to.
Rick: …they don’t turn the ball over and play tough defense. If they do these two things they will be in the game with a chance to win. Yes, the Rams have Jackson, but I believe we can gameplan to make Bradford have to beat us. Offensively, the Browns need to find something that works and run with it. What happened to Evan Moore? He was such a weapon down the stretch last year. Let’s get the ball back in his hands. Use the screen passes more this week. That Tight End screen to Watson was a great looking play. How about a special teams touchdown this week Cribbs? It would certainly help.
Now, for the other side of the coin. We reached out to Will Horton of Rams Herd, and engaged in a little Q&A with them about the state of the Browns heading into this game. Rams Herd has been offering graphic (and sometimes infographic) analysis of the St Louis Rams since July 2009. We are proud to be a part of the Bloguin NFL network. Without further ado…
The Rams Will Win If…
Brennan (@BrennanJSmith): …they can score in the red zone. St. Louis moved the ball consistently against the Cardinals last week, outgaining them 383 yards to 262 but had to rely on three field goals and two safeties for their 13 points. Sam Bradford needs to step up and find a killer instinct in the most important section of the field to finish drives for seven points. If Steven Jackson can put the team on his back once again and if Bradford finds Brandon Lloyd open once or twice in the red zone, it could be the difference in this game.
Derek (@SportsbyWeeze): …the offense flows through Steven Jackson. Sam Bradford showed his rust last week against Arizona and it affected his timing and accuracy. Another week of limited practice is not going to make a remarkable difference. Add to that the possible return of Mark Clayton and absence of the suddenly reliable Greg Salas and Browns CB Joe Haden will be begging for Bradford to challenge him. If the Rams have any chance of winning Shurmur Bowl, Steven Jackson will be the catalyst. With 25+ touches and 100+ yards the last two weeks, Jackson can open up the passing lanes if Steve Spagnuolo continues to feed him the ball.
Tim (@Shields3L): …they can control the game by pounding a run defense that is nearly as bad as their own. I’d hope that after watching the Browns give up 261 yards rushing last week to the Texans, Josh McDaniels will give SJ39 a heavy dose on Sunday. They also need to limit big plays, particularly on special teams. Josh Cribbs is a threat anytime the ball is in his hands. I’m looking for a big performance out of the defense. This is the first break the DBs will see all year. The Browns are one of the very few teams that have less talent at WR then the Rams. I think this will translate into a lot of blitzing and hopefully a few turnovers.
Maurice (@FuturisticRam): …the team simply plays smart, coaching included. It’s on McDaniels to keep the offense doing something if its working, and make effective adjustments if it’s not. It’s on Spags and Coach Flajole to have this defense ready to pursue Colt McCoy with reckless abandon, as he does have scrambling abilities. Its on Coach Loney to make sure Tony Wragge is able to step in and play better than Jason Brown at center in order to justify his benching. Its also on the entire coaching staff to keep this team motivated to play, and to make sure dumb penalties are avoided, as with this team it costs us games.
Will (@RamsHerd): …they can finally establish the big play offense that they’ve been threatening for several weeks. Hard to improve upon the answers above, but Cleveland, like the Rams, struggles to score points, and has even fewer weapons on offense than St Louis does. The chemistry between Sam Bradford and Brandon Lloyd has been slow to develop, and his chemistry with Mark Clayton has been on a cold shelf for the last year. Whether they can heat up this week will make the difference between scoring enough points to win, and not.
What say, there, fuzzy britches?