Seattle Seahawks vs. Cleveland Browns

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Game: Seattle Seahawks (4-3) vs. Cleveland Browns (4-3)
Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium  (Cleveland, OH)
When: 4:05 PM EST
Announcers: Sam Rosen/Tim Ryan (FOX)

I just had to do it: instead of showing a Browns or Seahawks player in the headlining image, why not display Tom Brady and Peyton Manning? Until this morning, I thought that was the only game being played this week. After taking four years to build another two-game winning streak, Romeo Crennel will try to make it three in a row today against the NFC West's division-leading Seattle Seahawks. Match-up wise, this game would've been considered an automatic loss prior to the season starting. Now, it's the Browns who enter the game as the favorites to win due to the consistent offensive production that has been displayed. I know I say that we need every game, but we really do need this game. I don't see the Baltimore Ravens winning this week, and that means that next week's showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers could very well determine the AFC North Champions come the end of the season. One step at a time though, let's get to the breakdown of this week's game...

OFFENSE

Category Seahawks Browns
Points Scored 19.5 (16th) 27.7 (4th)
Passing 232.3 (12th) 238.9 (9th)
Rushing 92.6 (22nd) 117.6 (14th)
Total Offense (yards) 324.9 (16th) 356.4 (6th)

DEFENSE

Category Seahawks Browns
Points Scored 15.4 (3rd) 29.0 (30th)
Passing 212.7 (16th) 270.7 (31st)
Rushing 107.4 (13th) 139.4 (29th)
Total Defense (yards) 320.1 (13th) 410.1 (32nd)
- Quarterback
Matt Hasselbeck may have more experience, but Derek Anderson is the hottest quarterback in the league aside from Tom Brady right now, particularly at home. Hasselbeck has not done very well on the road this season, where he's thrown two touchdowns and three interceptions in three games. That included a game in which the Seahawks were blown out 21-0 by the Steelers. Anderson faces the toughest defense he'll have seen since opening day in all likelihood, but the receivers haven't shown signs of being dominated by anybody. Hasselbeck will probably be without Deion Branch as well, limiting another potential weapon.
- Running Back
The Seahawks are averaging less than 100 yards a game this season, as Shaun Alexander hasn't been able to get his motor going strong on the road or at home. Part of the problem has been the offensive line, but I'd imagine that all of the "minor" injuries for him over the past couple of years have simply added up to a negative result. The Browns have started to work in an effective three-man rotation: Jamal Lewis gets most of the carries, Jason Wright spells him regularly, and Jerome Harrison comes in for a series or two in the second half to change the pace on the ground.
- Receiver
Braylon Edwards is playing up to a Pro Bowl level, while Kellen Winslow and Joe Jurevicius have been just as effective in their own ways: Winslow with mismatch problems over the middle and Jurevicius with a league-best third-down target and catch ratio. The Seahawks have had a fair three-man rotation at receiver between Deion Branch, Nate Burleson, and Bobby Engram, but none of them have really been the "identity" of the offense. Branch probably won't play due to injury, but the team has been salivating over the fact that they are getting D.J. Hackett back. With the Browns settled and the Seahawks seeing change, Cleveland earns the receiving advantage.
- Offensive Line
Hasselbeck hasn't fared too well without the great Steve Hutchinson at guard, but Walter Jones remains the best left tackle in the NFL. Fortunately for the Browns, we also have a top-tier left tackle in rookie Joe Thomas, who will have his hands full versus some effective Seahawks' pass rushers. When it comes down to the running game, the Seahawks used to dominate the line of scrimmage, which was the reason Alexander was a touchdown machine two years ago. Now he's only averaging 3.4 yards-per-carry, and even Mike Holmgren has attributed some of that blame to the line rather than Alexander.
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Defensive Line
The defensive side of the ball is where the Browns are clearly overmatched against Seattle in comparison. The Browns only have one sack from a defensive lineman all season, and that came last week. The Seahawks have 3.5 sacks from Patrick Kerney, 5.5 sacks from Darryl Tapp, 2.5 sacks for Rocky Bernard, and 1 sack for Brandon Mebane. Keep in mind that this is only what their defensive line is doing, and does not include the linebackers' production. Part of Seattle's strength has come down near the red zone area, where they've kept the running game in check.

- Linebacker
Speaking of another overwhelming defensive position in comparison, Julian Peterson and Lofa Tatupu have been a tremendous duo for a Seahawks defense that is only allowing about 13 points per game. Peterson has registered seven sacks this season, while Tatupa leads the team in tackles. Meanwhile, I think the Browns have gotten better at linebacker slightly due to Willie McGinest's leadership on the field, but I can't say I'm too thrilled with D'Qwell Jackson being out with an ankle injury. Jackson had been playing fairly well, and this means that Andra Davis will see more playing time again.
- Secondary
Leigh Bodden was torched last week by Torry Holy, but came away with a game-winning interception. The Seahawks won't be foolish; they'll test our secondary often, especially with a deep-ball threat like Hackett returning to action. It'll be critical for Bodden to receive some help early on in recognition of this, because although his coverage has been pretty tight, teams are still attacking his side of the field often. Seattle's more equipped in their arsenal with veteran Marcus Trufant at corner and former Cleveland Brown Brian Russell at safety. Boy, do I miss Russell or what?
- Special Teams
Phil Dawson has been accurate this season, but so has Seattle's Josh Brown, who has connected on 13 of his 14 attempts. Seattle has started using Nate Burleson on kick and punt returns, and it has turned out well for them. Burleson is averaging over ten yards a pop on punt returns and already has a 91 yard kick return this year. Of course Joshua Cribbs still gives us all of the faith in the world, but you still can't automatically discredit what the Seahawks have to offer.
FINAL PREDICTION: Cleveland Browns 27, Seattle Seahawks 23.
Who would have thought that at the mid-way point of the season, these offenses would be heading in opposite directions. Matt Hasselbeck has been in dire need of a big-play receiver, but Deion Branch's chances of seeing the field against the Browns don't look very good. Shaun Alexander has been criticized and booed by his fans for turning in career lows week after week. Something in Seattle's offense needs to click, and they'll hope that's the case against a Browns defense that still struggles all around and lost their leading tackler, D'Qwell Jackson, to an ankle injury. It's easier said than done against the Browns though, because they can strike at any time.

It almost is beginning to seem impossible for Derek Anderson to not hook up with Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow for at least a pair of touchdowns per game. The Browns' offense has been lights out at home, and even executed their gameplan to perfection on the road last week to improve to 4-3, building their first two-game winning streak in years. Anderson's thrown six touchdowns to zero interceptions over his past two games, and has played fairly well overall against any type of defense he's had to face. The Seahawks definitely has higher expectations heading into the season, but without the assistance of their home crowd, the Browns, who are actually favored in this game, should come away with the win.

This is the official gameday topic for the eighth game of the regular season, featuring the Cleveland Browns against the Seattle Seahawks. All comments regarding the game should be posted in this topic. Enjoy the game, and GO BROWNS!!!
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