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Cleveland at the Crossroads, The NCP looks at Browns vs. Falcons....

Final feelings on the Texans loss:

 

K-Dubs, the Soldier- Despite their unimpressive record, I figured the Texans would give the Browns a tough game.  I did not foresee the beating they were going to administer in a 23-7 win, though.  The Texans’ front seven, led by J.J. Watt, bottled-up the running game, holding the Browns to 58 yards on 24 carries, and registered 8 tackles for losses.  They also harassed Hoyer all afternoon, tallying 2 sacks, laying him out an additional 4 times, and pressuring him into a 20 for 50 performance.  Hoyer looked baaaaddd even when he had time, missing some targets by a country mile.  His inconsistency is consistently becoming more of an issue.  His receivers also had a couple of untimely drops, which did not help things.  Fortunately, not every defense has Watt and Brian Cushing, but unfortunately that includes the Browns, who allowed 213 rushing yards to a team missing its starting running back.  The defense just could not off the field, as Houston had 8 more minutes in time of possession and converted on 7 of 18 third-down opportunities.  This game was a big letdown after the curb-stomping administered to the Bengals the week before, but I am still forgiving of team that has far exceeded my expectations this season.  Even with the loss, the Browns sit at 6-4 and Josh Gordon, their most dangerous offensive weapon, makes his return this week.  

Big$- I ended last week’s entry by saying I was gonna kick back and enjoy being 6 and 3. Oddly enough, the beat down the Browns suffered in game 10 does not diminish the enjoyment I received from the 1st 9 games of the season. This team has out-performed my expectations and they have done so without the aid of two pro bowlers on offense (Mack and Cameron) and a rash of injuries on D. With that said, I believe they are at a crossroads. This week is going to go a long way in showing who the Browns are and where they are going. Are they legit playoff contenders or are they also-rans that caught a few breaks this year? Due to the week to week nature of the NFL, I don't think the Texans game does a whole lot to help figure that question out. Remember when Mark Sanchez was about to embark on a Hall-of-Fame-level career revival, and Andy Dalton was banished to the Arena league? That was only 2 weeks ago. Take it back a little farther and recall when we all assumed the Seahawks would be 17-0 and the Patriots run was done. Overreactions run rampant in NFL discussions and I’m not going to fall prey to over reacting to the game last week.

 

Where are you starting LeBron this week?

K-Dubs, the Soldier- I would like LeBron to suit up at linebacker this week in the place of Karlos Dansby, who is listed as doubtful after leaving last week’s game with a knee injury.  Craig Robertson has shown a lot of improvement since last year, and NCP favorite has Chris Kirksey played well, but they do not yet have the veteran leadership needed to captain the defense.  Dansby does, and so does LeBron.   

 

Big$- I want Lebron and the other 9 guys in the Cavs current rotation to play on kickoff coverage with the hopes that it will knock a little sense and life into their lackluster early season.

 

What’s your prediction for this week’s game on the road against the 4-6 Falcons:

 

Big$- On one hand I’m seriously concerned about the Browns ability to contain the strong-armed Matt Ryan, as Ryan Mallet went All-Pro on the defense last week. The good news is, his main weapon (and former Browns draft board asterisk) Julio Jones is a bit nicked up. On the other hand, I feel that the return of Josh Gordon is going to open up the offense. I suspect Ole Flash G. is a grip it and rip it type of guy who won’t be hampered by rust in any way and he’ll be the spark that leads to a Browns 31 -17 victory.

 

K-Dubs, the Soldier- The big news this week is the return of Gordon from his 10-game suspension resulting from drug-policy violations.  Gordon dominated the NFL last year with Brandon Weeden throwing him the ball.  Regardless if he catches a single ball this week, he makes the offense more potent.  His mere presence outside the hash marks should keep opposing defenses from stacking the box, which should help open up running lanes for Isaiah Crowell and Terrence West.  Getting him back at the No. 1 receiver position allows leading receiver Andrew Hawkins to match up against opponent’s second-tier cornerbacks or against linebackers and safeties when lining up in the slot.  In looking at this week’s game, I had counted this one as a loss when I scanned the scheduled at the beginning of the season.  Atlanta seemed like a playoff contender on paper, and this is an out-of-conference roadie, which results in a win for the home team more often than not.  Now, however, the Falcons are 4-6, and the only wins are against the poor divisional competition.  Matt Ryan is moving the ball, ranking 5th in the league in passing yards per game and throwing 17 touchdowns, and he has only thrown one interception in the last four games, but the defense cannot stop anyone.  They rank last in total defense and have lost to the Giants, Vikings, and Bears—not exactly Murders’ Row.  Similarly, the Browns defense have made rookies and second-team QBs, running backs and receivers look like All-Stars all year.  And that was with leading tackler Dansby and fellow starting linebacker Jabaal Sheard, who may not play this week because of injury.  With two porous defenses matching up against offenses with some dangerous toys, I am expecting a shoot-out with the Browns holding on late for a 33-27 win.