NFL Season Preview: Cleveland Browns

Joe WillettSenior Writer IJune 23, 2008

The Cleveland Browns were the NFL's big surprise last season.  They went from the bottom of the barrel to one of the teams on the verge of a Super Bowl ready season.

They were everything an up-and-coming team should be.  They had veteran leadership in Jamal Lewis and a young nucleus with Derek Anderson and Braylon Edwards.

So how do they look for the 2008-09 season?

Key Addition/Subtraction

Dante Stallworth- From the Patriots

Chuan Thompson- Now on the Texans

Key Games

Sept. 7 vs. Cowboys - They test their passing offense on one of the best secondaries in the NFL.

Oct. 13 vs. Giants- You aren't the best until you beat the best. The Browns can prove their worth yet again.

Nov. 30 vs. Colts- Likely to be a high scoring affair, beating top teams can still prove to be huge, especially as we begin crunch time.

Dec. 28 at Steelers- Final game of the regular season, could be fighting for a playoff spot and every win counts.

Season Outlook

The Browns came out of nowhere last season, however, are they the Cincinnati-Bengals-210608">Cincinnati Bengals?

They are likely to be a passing offense.  With a trio of Braylon Edwards, Donte Stallworth, and Joe Jurevicious, what team wouldn't be?

However, Jamal Lewis is getting older and despite his 1300+ season last year, he is likely to drop off in production.

Derek Anderson came out of nowhere to be a passing guru, but he isn't consistent on getting the ball to his team.

The defense isn't good at all.  They were 30th in total defense and 21st in points allowed last season, and they say defense wins championships.

This mirrors the way Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, T.J Houshmanzada, and Corey Dillon helped outscore every team they played because they needed to when their defense was bad.

But Corey Dillon left the team, much the way that Jamal Lewis will in the next few years (he's old and he's already won a Super Bowl and he has nothing else to earn).

They aren't going to be able to outscore people forever and they didn't add any major names to scare teams for 2008.

If this team is going to be what it was last season, they need to become a lot stingier on offense, at least breaking the top 20.

My Prediction

Their offense may be good enough to last them for most of this year, but they aren't going to.  I'm not sold that they are going to go to the playoffs.

They have a tough schedule (they play the Cowboys, Giants, Colts, Jaguars, and Steelers twice) and aren't strong enough defensively to be one of the best teams in the NFL.

I would put them about 9-7 or 10-6, right around where they were last year.

I'm Joe W.

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