CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 13: Head coach Pat Shurmur of the Cleveland Browns stands on the sideline during the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 13, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Packers 27-17. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
The Browns are part of a division, the AFC North, that is particularly known for tough, stingy defense. If you look at defensive statistics for the past decade or so, you will see AFC North teams consistently near the top. But how do the Browns divisional opponents fair against teams that use West Coast offensive scheme? Will the Browns benefit in divisional play merely by installing a new offense? Let's look at the AFC North vs the West Coast offense over the past 3 years.
During the 2008-2010 seasons, the AFC North has faced the following teams that run some kind of variation of the West Coast:(WC) Offense: Eagles, Packers, Buccaneers, Broncos, Vikings, Texans, Falcons and Redskins.
Lets first look at the Bengals. During this period the Bengals won about 38% of their games. Against the WC teams their combined record was 2 and 6 for a 25% winning percentage. Over the same period all opposing teams scored an average of 22 points per game where as the WC teams averaged 24 per game. So the Bengals seem to do slightly worse than normal against WC teams.
The Steelers, on the other hand, do slightly better against WC offenses. Their winning percentage against WC teams is around 88% where their total winning percentage over the same period is 79%. WC teams score an average of 15 points per game against them while all teams score 16 points per game on average.
There is no big advantage with the Ravens either as WC teams score only slightly better against them than the average (18 points per game for WC and 16 for all teams). Also the Ravens beat WC teams 70% of the time which is virtually identical to their win record with all teams of 67%.
So there is definitely no obvious Achilles's Heel when it comes to WC offense against the powerful defenses of the AFC North. Playing these teams is going to be more about executing on the field than overall strategy. With the exception of the Bengals who seem to be in an extreme funk this year, the Browns will have to play smart, smash-mouth football to beat the rest of the AFC North this year. So what else is new?