Good morning, check out our game preview and prediction for the Browns' Week 7 matchup today against the . In this week's edition of "The Sunday Five," I take a look at the Browns trying to overcome their road woes, how three-and-outs have hurt the team, whether WR Percy Harvin would've been a good fit for Cleveland, and more.fans, and welcome to gameday! Be sure to
Browns fans are very confident heading into this game, and the national media have been giving Cleveland recognition all week. Even the odds-makers are doing something we haven't seen in nearly 20 years for the Browns:
Biggest road favorite for #Browns since 1995 (-5.5 at Jacksonville)— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) October 16, 2014
I feel confident in the Browns' chances of winning too, but the Browns have one major hurdle they have to clear: their first-half road woes. Through two road games this season, the Browns have faced ridiculous deficits that would make them seem like a joke of a team:
How can the Browns stop the bleeding? Focus on the fundamentals. We heard about Mike Pettine simplifying the defense against Pittsburgh last week, and since Jacksonville isn't a powerhouse offense, there isn't a need to risk exotic things that will get players out of position.
Offensively, QB Brian Hoyer can help alleviate things too. If the Jaguars get off to a buzzing start offensively, Hoyer can't afford to let Cleveland's offense have a three-and-out that puts the defense right back on the field. It's not necessarily a bad thing to have a competitive, back-and-forth scoring type of game, but you always want to be within reach and not having to make a miraculous, record-breaking second-half comeback.
In Week 1, the Browns had four drives that resulted in three-and-outs in the first half.
In Week 5, the Browns had two drives that results in three-and-outs in the first half.
Neither case is a nail in the coffin, but when the three-and-out comes right after the opposing team scored a touchdown, it hurts. Four of the six three-and-out drives in the two road games followed a touchdown by the opposing team. Think it can't happen this week? The Jaguars' defensive line is among the best pass-rushing units in the NFL. The Browns are playing their first full game with a new center. If things go awry on a first-down play, it won't be easy to move the chains when you're facing a 2nd-and-17. Cleveland needs to start fast like they did against Pittsburgh, and then let their running game continue to wear down the opposition until they tap out.
The Seattle Seahawks traded WR Percy Harvin to the New York Jets on Friday for a conditional draft pick, a move that stunned the NFL. On Saturday, Jets beat reporter Manish Mehta said that among the teams contacted by the Seahawks about Harvin were the Cleveland Browns:
As exciting of a player as Harvin could be, and with how well Cleveland's offense has been through five games, there's no way I would have wanted Ray Farmer to even think about Harvin. We're trying to build a disciplined team, one without a guy who gives his teammates black eyes or other marks on their face. Harvin also reportedly refused to play in the fourth quarter of last week's game against the Cowboys, showing insubordination.
The Browns will be getting WR Josh Gordon back in a little over a month, so they'll be set at wide receiver. Harvin could have been an asset as a return man, but it doesn't sound like the payoff would have been worth disrupting the team chemistry. The Jets must see Harvin as a long-term asset, but when two teams have sent him away already, isn't that a big red flag?
UPDATE: According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Seahawks tried to get TE Jordan Cameron from the Browns. Although that isn't entirely ridiculous of a proposition because Cameron is a free agent at the end of the year, when you're in position to be a contender, there is no way you'd give up your best offensive weapon (until Gordon comes back) for a troublemaker like Harvin:
I guess I can't fault the Seahawks for trying, but the Browns probably hung up the phone rather quickly on that one.
The Browns could be in first place by the end of the day. In order to get there, they will need to beat Jacksonville, first of all. Second, they will need the Bengals and the Ravens to both lose. Cincinnati faces a tough matchup against the Colts, a game that I think Indianapolis should win. Baltimore faces a weak defense against the Falcons, but that Atlanta offense still has a lot of potency.
A lot of people have been talking about the Browns' Thursday Night game against the Bengals in a few weeks as if it will be Cleveland's chance to overtake the AFC North. In reality, it could be Cincinnati's chance to try to gain ground on Cleveland. Wouldn't that be something?
It's time to predict the inactives for today's game. Here are my guesses for the Browns' gameday inactives against the Jaguars (there are seven inactives required): RB Billy Winn, OLB Eric Martin, CB K'Waun Williams, and CB ., WR , , DE
RB Terrance West should be active again this week, having learned his lesson about work ethic in practice. Smith, Taylor, Winn, and Williams are ruled out, so those are four guaranteed inactives. With West back in good graces, Winston is a virtual lock to be inactive. Desir is still in redshirt status, so he's a pretty safe lock to be the sixth inactive. The only question mark is Martin. If it's not Martin, it'll be one of the two new defensive linemen: Siona Fua or Jacobbi McDaniel. I went with the Browns carrying extra defensive linemen in the event that Ahtyba Rubin's ankle gives out during the game. Rubin could also be a late scratch.