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New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns: Positional Breakdown & Notes

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LaDainian Tomlinson has reemerged this season as a member of the Jets.
LaDainian Tomlinson has reemerged this season as a member of the Jets.

Are you ready to boo the hell out of Braylon Edwards? I am. I personally feel more "rage," or however you want to define being upset at an athlete, than I do against LeBron James. Not only does Cleveland need to beat the Jets, but there needs to be a misfortune during the game for Edwards to make the weekend complete. Is that too much to ask for?

Here are some notes heading into the game, followed by my positional breakdown and prediction for the game:

  • Someone a few weeks ago asked why I seemed to bring up or mention former Browns quarterback Derek Anderson, pointing out that I seemed to pick on him. That's because I still sort of like Anderson for his goofy antics. When it comes to Edwards, there's no mistaking about it: I don't like him at all.
  • The Browns promoted defensive lineman Brian Sanford from the practice squad, waiving offensive lineman Paul McQuistan in the process. That doesn't necessarily mean anything for Sanford, but rather for right tackle John St. Clair. St. Clair returned to practice this week and could be available for Sunday's contest. I've been satisfied with what Floyd Womack has done at right tackle, but if Billy Yates starts to struggle, it gives the team more options of shifting Womack to right guard and getting St. Clair back in there.
  • I hope Peyton Hillis has another big day. From reading what Jets fans have had to say, they seem to respect what Hillis has been able to do this season, but they believe their defense won't have any issues stopping him.
  • If I had to guess how Brian Daboll will script the opening drive this week, I think it'll be a lot of playaction and then giving McCoy a chance to build some confidence early against the Jet cornerbacks. If the Browns are going to have success with Hillis, they're going to need to force the defense to respect the passing game.
  • With Colt McCoy set to start this week, the option of putting Seneca Wallace in for a few snaps will be there. It might be as simple as him being a decoy at the wide receiver position for a couple of snaps in which Joshua Cribbs lines up in the Wildcat, but just like Cleveland pulled off the fumblerooski last week, they might be able to mix in a big play with Wallace if they time it right.
  • I'd be very interested in seeing tight end Evan Moore lined up a few times on Darrelle Revis. What we might see instead is Moore line up in the slot and try to run a hard post route on former Browns safety Brodney Pool. Pool was never great in coverage for Cleveland, so maybe our team can take advantage of any weaknesses we know he has.
  • I've never really gotten into Mark Sanchez, so I'll be a bit annoyed if he suddenly has an efficient game against our defense. The Jets have had problems putting together good offensive gameplans, so in a best-case scenario, that fact, combined with how deceptive Cleveland's defense has been over the past two weeks, will result in a few interceptions.
  • Will the Jets try to force the ball to Braylon Edwards early on at his request? We'll see.

Position-by-Position Breakdown

Pos Adv  Reason
QB - In terms of experience in the NFL, Mark Sanchez has the edge over Colt McCoy. If you look at the way McCoy has played over his first three starts though, you wouldn't be able to tell which of these quarterbacks was a rookie. This season, Sanchez got off to a great start, playing well in three games against divisional opponents. Since then, he has struggled with his accuracy and his decision making.
Even with his last-minute comeback against the Lions last week, Sanchez has thrown 2 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in his past 3 games. During that stretch, he is only completing 51% of his passes. McCoy, on the other hand, has been limited in his number of passing touchdowns (he only has one through three games), but his 67% completion percentage has allowed Cleveland to continue drives while letting Peyton Hillis pound it on the ground.
RB - Who would have thought that at the half-way point of the season, Peyton Hillis vs. LaDainian Tomlinson would be a battle of the comeback running backs? Jerome Harrison and Shonn Greene were the featured backs for Cleveland and New York, respectively, when the season started. That changed quickly for both teams, and I don't think either team regrets their decision.
The Browns won't see much of Greene unless the Jets are blowing the Browns out. Hopefully that won't happen. Tomlinson has also been a nice checkdown receiver for Sanchez, as he is tied for the team lead in receptions. With that said, it's surprising to me that his longest reception has only gone for 14 yards. Hillis has the same number of catches as Tomlinson does. In terms of production, both Hillis and Tomlinson deliver maximum effort for their teams.
WR - The Jets have one of the league's best receiving units with Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, and Dustin Keller (that doesn't even include Tomlinson). Overall, Sanchez has done a good job distributing the ball evenly to each of his targets, but it seems like the group has had a tough time getting open at times.
Even though Mohamed Massaquoi's catches are down this season, I think he's having a pretty good year. He is catching everything thrown his way and did a good job settling down in coverage last week against New England. Chansi Stuckey will face his former team, so he should be a little more hyped.
OL - Left guard Matt Slausen injured his knee on the Jets' final offensive play against the Lions, but it sounds like he'll be ready to play for this week's game. This is an offensive line that has performed well together, with Nick Mangold, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Brandon Moore, Slausen, and Damien Woody combing to form a good, young line.
The Browns' offensive line has been playing outstanding. Peyton Hillis' improved production on the ground has also coincided with Floyd Womack shifting over to right tackle. Billy Yates hasn't been a problem at right tackle, and Alex Mack is dominating the opposition at center. McCoy wasn't even hit last week.
DL - This unit hasn't missed a beat without Kris Jenkins. I haven't had the opportunity to see how nose tackle Sione Pouha has played, but it sounds like he's filled in very well. Shaun Ellis can generate some pressure from the end position, and Mike Devito completes the three-man front on the other side. This was the closest defensive position that I considered marking as a "tie" given how good Shaun Rogers and Ahtyba Rubin have been.
LB - Bart Scott and David Thomas combine to form a very good inside linebacker unit. Jason Taylor adds some nice depth to go along with starters Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace. There isn't a specific player who gets to the quarterback here (the pressure is spread around), but I'm sure all of them will have spots when they are blitzing McCoy on Sunday.
The play of Cleveland's linebackers have been very good too; even Chris Gocong came around and had several good stops on the Patriots' running backs last week.
DB - Darrelle Revis wasn't as effective while he was injured, but Jets fans seem to be convinced that he's healthy and back to his All-Pro form. Antonio Cromartie isn't afraid to take chances, but he's had a lot of penalties called on him. Perhaps McCoy will try to spring Cribbs against him and draw some interference during the game? Cleveland's secondary must shut down Braylon Edwards to make me a happy camper. Stopping Santonio Holmes from getting yards after the catch is another big key.
ST - Brad Smith is a pretty good kick return man, but our coverage units have just smothered everyone before they even have a chance to get going. There might be a push in terms of field goal kicking and punting this week -- Steve Weatherford gets his punts inside the 20 pretty well, and Nick Folk has rebounded this year after a poor effort with Dallas last year.

After seeing the domination the Cleveland Browns had over New England last week, combined with how intense I expect them to play this week, how can I pick against my hometown team? It feels great to pick the Browns against a good football team and not believe I'm being a homer.

FINAL PREDICTION: Cleveland Browns 23, New York Jets 17.