Cleveland Browns vs. Jacksonville Jaguars - Official Game Thread

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CLEVELAND BROWNS (2-4) WEEK 8 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (3-3)
VS.
Date: October 26, 2008 Location: Jacksonville, FL
Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
Stadium: Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
TV: CBS
Favorite: Jaguars by 7
Radio: WMMS, 100.7 FM Over/Under: 41
SBN Coverage: Big Cat Country Announcers
Dick Enberg & Randy Cross
(Oh...My!)

There are games that are tagged as "must wins" early on in a season, when in reality, they are only games you would like to win. Today's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars truly is our first must-win game of the season (although a loss does not put us officially out of the race). Last season, we finished with ten wins but failed to make the playoffs because of our poor record against conference opponents. Besides teams in our own division, the Jaguars are a team that will be hanging around in the wildcard race for the remainder of the season. If we lose today, we might as well say we're three games back of a wildcard spot at the halfway point of the season. Heading into the game, you can't help but think about one player and one player only: Derek Anderson.

With Kellen Winslow sidelined, will Derek Anderson light it up like he did against the New York Giants? Let's kick off this week's preview with the overall team statistics thus far...

OFFENSE

Category Browns Jaguars
Points Scored 15.3 (30th) 20.6 (22nd)
Passing 156.5 (28th) 190.0 (20th)
Rushing 99.0 (25th) 116.5 (14th)
Total Offense (yards) 255.5 (30th) 306.5 (22nd)

DEFENSE

Category Browns Jaguars
Points Scored 17.6 (7th) 21.3 (13th)
Passing 183.0 (7th) 229.7 (23rd)
Rushing 146.3 (26th) 110.8 (17th)
Total Defense (yards) 329.3 (18th) 340.5 (24th)

 

 

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Quarterback

There's no point in trying to defend Derek Anderson anymore. He either needs to go out today and play a manageable football game, or his starting job will be lost to Brady Quinn (perhaps even in this game). David Garrard hasn't had a brilliant season either, but the thing that separates them right now is completion percentage. Garrard is connecting on 66% of his passes, while Anderson has only completed 49% of his. Half of the time Anderson drops back, the ball is hitting the turf. Funny statistic though: Anderson has not thrown a pick in his past two games.

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Running Back

I would've given the Jaguars the edge here heading into the season because of their one-two punch at running back, but that has changed with the declining performance of veteran Fred Taylor. He has 23 carries for just 54 yards over his past three games! Maurice-Jones Drew is fairing better with a 4.6 yards-per-carry average on the season, but he is at his best when he's able to come in and spell Taylor. Jamal Lewis has played exceptionally well the past two weeks against the Giants' and Redskins' tough run defenses, and will look to get over the 100-yard mark for the first time this season.

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Receiver

The Browns lifted Kellen Winslow's suspension, but will still deactivate him for today's game. Honestly, with the current state of the team, I think our offense has a better chance of flowing this week with Steve Heiden starting. Hopefully we'll also get a look at rookie tight end Martin Rucker for the first time this season. The Jaguars top receiver Matt Jones was handed a three-game suspension by the league, but will still play this week as his appeal is heard. The Browns will face former teammate Dennis Northcutt for the first time ever, and although there won't be any "intense" feud or anything, it'll be interesting to watch him play against us nonetheless. The past two weeks, Donte Stallworth has been used in a lot of shifts and motions. This week, it's time to actually get him the football too.

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Offensive Line

The Jaguars look to get a huge lift this week on the offensive line with center Brad Meester and guard Chris Naeole making their first appearances of the season. The Browns would get the advantage here if Ryan Tucker was listed as healthy, but that's not the case. Chances are, Kevin Shaffer will start at right tackle again, which almost guarantees that Anderson will be facing quite a few hurries from his side.

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Defensive Line

Corey Williams has still failed to make a significant impact this season, and Louis Leonard is not a starter. Basically, we're consistently banking on Shaun Rogers alone to stop the run, and that's not going to work with ineffective linebackers behind you. The Jaguars have better depth on their line right now, with DT John Henderson being their best player. Henderson, a tremendous run-stopper, will force the Browns to run up the middle less often than usual. The Jaguars' line isn't really built on getting sacks, but they can still bull rush people in the right matchup.

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Linebacker

The overall combined play of Andra Davis, D'Qwell Jackson, and Leon Williams inside has been so bad this season, you can't help but scratch your head as to why rookie Beau Bell isn't starting, let alone receiving playing time. Kamerion Wimbley showed the slightest signs of improvement last week, so I'll really be focused on him this week to see if he has another decent game. Right now, my expectations aren't very high. The Jaguars' unit relies on speed, but they aren't really a strength or a weakness.

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Secondary

Please have Mike Adams active for this game and playing the nickel back. If our secondary can stop the Giants and the Redskins for the most part, there is no reason we shouldn't be able to stop Matt Jones and Dennis Northcutt. The Jaguars can give up some chunks of yardage, but they are prone to making the game-changing plays. Drayton Florence and Rashean Mathis are top-notch corners, and young safety Reggie Nelson will return after missing the past three games to injury.

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Special Teams

For the first time this season, the special teams edge does not belong solely to the Browns. Joshua Cribbs has yet to break the big one, making our special teams unit closer to average overall. The Jaguars have a reliable kicker in Josh Scobee, who is 11-of-12 on kicks this year, including 2-of-2 on kicks from beyond 50 yards. Dennis Northcutt is also a threat to score on punt returns at any time for the Jaguars.


FINAL PREDICTION:
Jacksonville Jaguars 28, Cleveland Browns 20.
The Jaguars are 3-3, but all three of their losses have come against teams with a combined 16-2 record. Two of those losses came at home, but I can't make the same mistake I did last week by picking an unproven Derek Anderson to exceed expectations on the road. Defensively, the Browns have gotten away with holding teams on third downs despite being gashed on the ground. This week, the defense will need more help than they actually receive from the offense, as the Jaguars will execute efficiently on third downs, and thus come away with a victory.

This is the official gameday topic for the Cleveland Browns in Week 8 as they battle the Jacksonville Jaguars. All comments regarding the game should be posted in this topic. Enjoy the game, and GO BROWNS!!!

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