Thursday, November 1, 2007

Where Do We Stand?

Well this is an interesting one for the Brownies this week. Sitting at 4-3 and one game behind the lead for the AFC North with impending back-to-back road games versus the Steelers and Ravens. It is a situation they have not found themselves in very often since 1999. This week the Seattle Seahawks come to town, owners of the exact same 4-3 record and coming off their bye week. The Seahawks are traditionally a tough one for the Browns as they are only 4-11 all-time versus Seattle.

The bookies have installed the Browns as a 1 point favorite. You get three points for being at home which means that on a neutral field they think the Seahawks are two points better than the Browns. So basically they have no clue on how to feel about this game just like most of us.

The Seahawks come in hurting on offense as the running game still hasn't gelled with the loss of Pro-Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson before last season. Shawn Alexander looks to have lost a step after being injured the majority of last season. The retirement of fullback Mack Strong as Alexander's lead blocker also has had an adverse effect on the 'Hawks running game.

The Seahawks are also aren't tearing it up via the pass either as Matt Hasselback is nursing a strained oblique and their wide receiving core still struggles with dropped passes and health even with the departure of Koren Robinson and Darrell Jackson. They traded a first round pick for Deion Branch and it has not paid dividends.

Just like the Browns they have beat up on the dredges on the NFL... Cincinnati, San Francisco, St. Louis... and have been spanked by the good teams, Pittsburgh and New Orleans. So this should be a good judge of where both franchises stand. The Browns, hopefully, appear to be on an upswing with some young, stand out players coming into their own while the Seahawks are attempt to hold onto the core that got them to the Super Bowl a mere two years ago.

Seattle still has a formidable defense with Patrick Kearney and Julian Peterson anchoring one of the leagues most underrated units. Former Brown Brian Russell leads the secondary and even though they won't admit it, the Browns sorely miss his leadership. Despite the upgrade in defense over the Rams and Dolphins I still expect the Browns to score if they protect the ball. Chud, DA and the play makers have shown for 6 weeks that they are more than capable of dissecting any defense.

It all comes down to the D, as it always seems to. Big Ted Washington is on the IR essentially ending his tenure as a Brown. Shaun Smith will get more work at nose tackle while Simon Fraser will see more work at left DE. I expect to see a ton of rotation of the line to keep the boys fresh and because, quite frankly, none of them are exceptionally good. It looks like D'Qwell Jackson might not play but Andre Davis and Leon Williams held down the fort quite well in the second half against the Rams. The DBs stepped up in the end of the Rams game but will need a better overall effort against a better Seattle team.

This is your textbook measuring stick game between a young, up and coming team and an aging team still trying to play at an elite level. A good test for the Browns before they ship off to Pittspuke but they can not look past Seattle. This year the Browns have been beating teams that they are better than or as good as they are. They have been winning at home. They need to continue to do so to continue to provide Cleveland with meaningful football games into November and December for the first time in a long time.

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