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Sunday August 31, 2008 8:35 am

NFL Preview: Cleveland Browns




Posted by Scott Sargent Categories: NFL,

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CLEVELAND BROWNS
2007 RECORD: 10-6

Overview: Shocking the world after their first week implosion against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cleveland Browns rolled off 10 wins in the next 15 weeks and barely missed a playoff slot thanks to a tiebreaker that favored the Tennessee Titans.  Already boasting one of the best offenses in the game, the Cleveland front office made several key moves to address the defense this past offseason.  Will it be enough to lift the Browns to the top of the division?

Offense: When a team sends six players to the Pro Bowl and not one of them are on the defensive side of the ball, it is safe to say things are somewhat tilted towards the offense.  Adding Donte Stallworth to the already stellar Braylon Edwards will give Derek Anderson yet another option on the receiving side.  Tight end Kellen Winslow may as well be a receiver, as he spends a considerable amount of time in the slot as well as next to the tackles.  Running back Jamal Lewis is the proud owner of a new contract and is said to be in some of the best shape of his life.  Look for third-year receiver Travis Wilson to take targets from the currently injured Joe Jurevicius and a few trick-plays using the ever-versatile Joshua Cribbs.  Also, do not count out back-up quarterback Brady Quinn, as he may also see time this season.

Defense: Easily the weakest link of this Cleveland team, the defensive unit has several new faces in brown and orange.  Two-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Shaun Rogers has moved down Route 75 from Detroit to Cleveland, where he can start anew and help clog the running lanes that were agape only a year prior.  Next to him will be former Green Bay Packer Corey Williams, who is coming off of a career year in terms of tackles.  The team will definitely be looking for a bounce-back year from outside backers Kamerion Wimbley and Willie McGinest in terms of a pass rush, while Andra Davis and D’Qwell Jackson take up the middle.  The secondary is considerably thin with the injury to Daven Holly, and two second-year cornerbacks on the starting team.  Veteran Terry Cousin will help in nickel packages, and safeties Brodney Pool and Sean Jones will be there to help over the top. 

Rookies: With the Browns trading away their draft picks over the past two seasons, there will not be many rookies to look for through 2009.  Wide receiver Paul Hubbard will likely be relegated to the practice squad while linebacker Beau Bell will be fortunate to see some work on special teams.  With that said, do not anticipate any sort of Adrian Peterson emergence from the Browns.

Prediction: The fate of the Browns rests on the ability of the defense to step up while the offense at least remains consistent.  Derek Anderson is coming off of a good year, but his second half performance left plenty to be desired.  Assuming that Cleveland can beat the teams that they are supposed to, I cannot see an increase from last year’s 10 wins.  However, a 9-7 season is not out of the question.  It will just be a matter of what can win the division.

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