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Browns vs. Falcons Gameday Thread/Preview

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Despite not playing very well on offense against the Chargers last week, the Browns were able to stay competitive after a solid performance on special teams that included six field goals from Phil Dawson. The Browns were beat up against San Diego, including the injured thumb of Charlie Frye and defensive starters Orpheus Roye, Daven Holly, Leigh Bodden, and Willie McGinest. We should be getting three of those defensive players back this week, as well as the return of starting right tackle Ryan Tucker from his mysterious illness. The Browns are traveling on the road to the turf against the Falcons, who are really struggling at defending the pass. Hopefully the turf doesn't bring back horrible injury members (Jamir Miller) too much. Let's get to the breakdown of this week's game...
- Quarterback
In terms of throwing the football, neither Michael Vick nor Charlie Frye have been very impressive. Vick had two great games throwing the ball against the Bengals and the Steelers, and will be looking to torch his third straight AFC opponent. However, last week against the Detroit Lions, Vick fell victim to his inability to pass once again. Frye's biggest problem stems from his lack of time to throw, but he also needs to stop staring down his receivers. Last week against the Chargers, Frye had Steve Heiden wide open several times, but instead tried to throw it to someone else through double or triple coverage. Vick gets the advantage for the obvious match-up problem he creates with his legs.
- Running Back
When Reuben Droughns and the Browns running game can start averaging at least three yards a carry against half-way decent defenses, maybe I'll consider our running game somewhat of a threat. Right now, running the football doesn't do anything for the Browns except waste a play, because by the time Droughns gets to the line of scrimmage, he's getting hit by two linemen. Personally, I'd like to see Jerome Harrison get some more opportunities early on. The Falcons are equipped with the talented Warrick Dunn, and the Browns better be careful of the screen plays when backup Jerious Norwood enters the game - he's explosive.
- Receiver
Joe Jurevicius and Kellen Winslow have stepped it up in the Browns passing game, and Braylon Edwards showed some positive signs at the end of last week's game for the first time in weeks. The story on the Falcons is the fact that Alge Crumpler is still their only true offensive weapon, primarily because Vick can't get his teammates the ball on a consistent basis. Ashley Lelie, Michael Jenkins, and Roddy White seem to have potential, but they haven't been good enough. The Browns receivers should be able to capitalize on the Falcons' 31st ranked pass defense.
- Offensive Line
There's no sense in me really explaining why our offensive line isn't good, because I'm just repeating myself week after week. Ryan Tucker will return from his mysterious illness against the Falcons, and hopefully he's more healthy than he was before his absence. The Falcons have to be doing something right with their line; after all, the offense only rushes for 200+ yards per game.
- Defensive Line
The Falcons have been able to generate a decent pass rush this season, but they miss the presence of John Abraham. They still have a talented defensive end in Patrick Kerney, who has racked up five sacks this season. Rod Coleman and Grady Jackson have been good up front, and have the Falcons ranked 12th in the league in run defense. The Browns will welcome the return of Orpheus Roye to the defensive line, but Ted Washington and Alvin McKinley really haven't been able to strike much fear into opposing quarterbacks.
- Linebacker
With Ed Hartwell being injured most of the season, veteran Keith Brooking has been forced into the starting lineup often. The Browns will likely see Willie McGinest back on the field, and he's the type of veteran that would've helped the Browns stop Tomlinson last week. Cleveland may use Chaun Thompson as a spy on Michael Vick in this game, which could call for him to see more action than usual. Either way, neither unit will make too much of an impact on the outcome of the game in all likelihood, and will only perform average at best.
- Secondary
The Browns are still beat up at cornerback, but things are even worse for the Falcons. They are ranked 31st in the league in pass defense, and will be without starting cornerback Jason Webster this week. On top of that, their other starting corner, DeAngelo Hall, is currently hobbled, but could still play. Rookie cornerback Jimmy Williams could get a start at corner, which only adds to the vulnerability of their unit. The Browns' play at the safety position has been tremendous, which is the difference between the Browns being able to recover from secondary injuries and the Falcons not being able to recover.
- Special Teams
The Browns have a reliable kicker in Phil Dawson, but the Falcons have a hall of fame type kicker in Morten Anderson. Dawson has more leg than him at this point, and the Browns are clearly one of the best teams in the league at returning kickoffs and punts, especially without having flags called on big returns. With this game being indoors, Joshua Cribbs may have a better shot at taking one to the house finally.
FINAL PREDICTION: Atlanta Falcons 23, Cleveland Browns 16.
I am much more hopeful of the Browns pulling the upset this week than I was last week, primarily due to the depleted secondary of the Falcons. However, I also have to consider the fact that the Browns really haven't shown anything to prove that they can beat a depleted secondary. I don't think Browns fans will be very happy if we run the football too often Sunday and don't take the necessary shots down the field. On defense, we can stop Vick from throwing the ball fairly easily, but I don't see us being able to contain him in the pocket as often as we need to.

This is the official gameday thread for today's game. Any comments you would like to make before, during, or after the game should be placed into this thread. Enjoy the game, and GO BROWNS!