Chris from fellow SB Nation blog Big Cat Country has provided a positional preview highlighting today's Jaguars vs. Browns contest. Who is the most important player on offense and on defense for Jacksonville? And, who will be their "X-factor" for this game? Let's find out...
OFFENSE: RB Maurice Jones-Drew & C Brad Meester vs. DT Shaun Rogers - As mentioned by one of DBN's fine commenters, Shaun Rogers might very well try to eat Maurice Jones-Drew. But don't judge the running back by his size, MJD loves going up the middle and around defensive tackles.
One reason that the Jaguars expect to run the ball and run the ball well is the triumphant return of Brad Meester to the Center of the offensive line. Meester is the vocal leader of the line and his return will allow the Jaguars to return to form on the ground. Meester will have to go from being on the bench to getting in the face of Shaun Rogers, a transition that must go well for the Jaguars to win on Sunday.
DEFENSE: FS Reggie Nelson vs. WR Braylon Edwards - It's obvious, but the Jaguars are going to put their best players on the biggest downfield threat that the Browns offer. What makes this interesting is that the Jaguars rarely glue a cornerback to a receiver, which means that Edwards will face Drayton Florence or Rashean Mathis based on the side of the field he's on, not as a direct head-to-head pairing.
The focus on keeping Edwards from big gains and the end zone will be Reggie Nelson, who's returning from a bruised knee. Reggie will have to keep Braylon from making a big play while also keeping his head up for an interception. This will be one of the better receivers that Reggie's had to cover deep, so watch "the eraser" keep the Browns limited through the air.
X-FACTOR: Mike Peterson v. Everyone - It's been a very sad year for Jaguars fans and Mike Peterson. Peterson is usually the leader of the defense, but this season has seen his performance decline to a shell of his former self. We're talking about a guy who had he played in a different market, might have been considered one of the leagues top middle linebackers, but age and injuries seem to have caught up with him.
Much like John Henderson has declined a bit without Stroud, Peterson looks like a different person on the field this season. He's missing tackles, hitting the wrong gaps, and letting plays by him that he used to dominate. He plays angry because the team has not considered extending his contract (he'll be a free agent next year, albeit an old one), but needs to seriously make a statement this week if he wants to even consider playing next year. Look for him to be a big factor in the game plan, should the coaches challenge to Peterson come out on the field.
I'd like to thank Chris for providing this analysis. Nonetheless, go Browns!