Preview: Browns vs. Panthers

This week the Browns look to rebound after last weeks tough loss in Jacksonville.  The 1-9 Carolina Panthers come into Cleveland looking for any type of positive development in what could be called a train wreck of a season.  The Browns should easily win this game.  The Panthers have been terrible and at this point are playing a quarterback who up until a few weeks ago was playing Mr. Mom.  However the Browns have their own QB issues to contend with.

That’s right folks… Welcome back to the Jake Friggin’ Delhomme era.  That sound you hear is the collective groan of the entire city of Cleveland.

Colt McCoy was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain earlier this week and is expected to miss four weeks of action.  That means the Browns are right back to where they began the season with Jake Delhomme manning the offense.  Quite frankly no one really knows what to expect from Jake the Snake at this point.  He hasn’t played in forever and in all honesty the few times he has played haven’t been good.  In fact it’s been mind numbingly bad.

The one positive is that Delhomme is playing his former team so there is the revenge factor at play here.  Delhomme is going to want to stick it to the team that basically said he was done.  The bad part is that everyone pretty much knows Delhomme is done…except for Delhomme.  Thanks to that this game could be a lot closer than anyone expects, or worse.  If Mangini loses his job at the end of the year this could be the game that does him in.  If McCoy, or even Wallace were playing I would expect something totally different.  But Delhomme is a turnover machine and turnovers can help keep bad teams in games.

With all of that said, if the Browns want this game we’ll need to see a steady diet of Peyton Hillis and solid defense.  They will need to minimize the opportunities Delhomme has to make a mistake and put him in short yardage situations where he doesn’t have to make a spectacular play.  If the Browns can do that I give them a solid chance to win.

5 Things To Look For

  1. Can the Browns commit to the run game and ride Peyton Hillis to victory?  Will we also see more of the trickery that made us so successful against New Orleans and New England, and less of the vanilla offense we saw in Jacksonville?
  2. Can Jake Delhomme not lose the game?
  3. How will the Browns respond as a team after letting a very winnable game slip out of their grasp last week?  Will there be a fire lit under them or will they come out flat against a 1-9 Panthers team?
  4. How will the Browns offense handle the leadership of Jake Delhomme.  Over the past few weeks the offense has looked sharp and more alive under the leadership of McCoy.  Will they be flat now that their new-found leader is down and out?
  5. Can the Browns defense, which has been so good this year, shut down a pathetically weak Panthers offense?  They will need to stop the run game first and foremost, but if they pull ahead can they clamp down, dominate the battles on the line, and force three and outs?  Can the secondary build on last week’s amazing performance?
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