Sunday, October 25, 2009

Packers - Browns Preview

The Packers are 3-2, the Browns are 1-5. The Packers are favored by 7...or 9, depending upon what spread you look at.

The Browns had a lot of players out sick with the flu this past week. Reports were that as many as 23 players were either ill or sidelined with injuries. Almost hard to have a practice with those numbers. Looking at the Browns' injury report is like looking at a list of...well...a lot of injured players.

This is one of those games that the Packers should win. The level of overall talent between the two teams isn't even close. Still, the Browns do have some individual standouts. The primary one that has received most of the attention, and rightly so, is return specialist and sometime wildcat-er (is that a word?) Joshua Cribbs. He can do some damage. I'm giving the Browns 7 points just because of him, whether taking it all the way on a return or setting up Cleveland in good field position after a long return.

Other players of note include Wisconsin's own Joe Thomas, who, at left tackle, is the best thing going on the Brown's offensive line. Man, how we could use him in Green 'n Gold! (Sigh.) The Browns do have veteran Jamal Lewis at running back. Two weeks ago against Buffalo he ran for 117 yards in 31 carries. Last week against Pittsburgh, Lewis rushed for only 21 yards in 11 tries. In other words, at this stage in his career, Lewis is a bit like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates: you never know what you're gonna get. Let's hope the Lewis we get today is like that last bit of candy that just never makes it out of the box.

On defense, the player of some concern is NT Shaun Rogers. He was among the ill this past week and also has a foot problem. And while he might not be the dominant player he was when was with the Lions, he still leads the Browns' defensive linemen in tackles with 24, including one sack. He'll be going against C Scott Wells, in once again for Jason Spitz who is doubtful because of his back problems. Wells has something to prove, namely that he should still be the starting center for the Packers. And Rogers? Well, he just might want to make it known that he can still dominate when he wants to; the question today will be how much he wants to.

The injury report for the Packers looks like this today: Out - RB Korey Hall (calf), T Mark Tauscher (out), WR Jordy Nelson (knee); Doubtful - T Chad Clifton (ankle), Jason Spitz (back); Questionable - Brandon Chillar (neck); Probable - WR Greg Jennings (hip), RB Quinn Johnson (ankle), DT B.J. Raji (ankle), QB Aaron Rodgers (foot).

Again, this is one of those games the Packers should have no problem with unless they do themselves in. As noted last week, if all the miscues and missed opportunities in that game appeared against a better foe the win might very well have been in doubt. We're looking to see the Packers correct at least some of the problems that have plagued them over the first five games, particularly on offense. Depending upon how well they do that will determine how many points they put up. We're looking to the defense to once again put on a good performance against a team they should dominate.

We've already noted that we're giving the Browns 7 points for Joshua Cribbs being on the field. Give 'em another 3 for being at home. For the Pack, we're going to say they convert a few more of those trips in the redzone from the field goals of last week to touchdowns this week.

Prediction: Packers 31 - Browns 10.

Go Pack Go!!!