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Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cleveland Browns: Will the Browns Ever Be Favored?

CLEVELAND - NOVEMBER 07:  Quarterback Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns leaves the field after their victory over the New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 7, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Kyle VassaloFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2010

Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars

Sunday November 21st, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: Jacksonville -2

 

Overview:

The Browns are turning heads all around the league. After beating the Saints and the Patriots, the Browns took the Jets into overtime. Despite being 3-6, Cleveland has earned respect by competing with and beating some of the best from around the league. Obviously, Vegas missed the memo, as they are underdogs to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jaguars are shockingly 5-4. A spectacular Hail Mary fluke has propelled them into a winning record. The Jaguars are still relevant in the AFC South conversation and a win against Cleveland coupled with a Colts loss would put them in a tie for first place. That being said, nobody wants a piece of the Browns right now.

 

Keys to the Game:

  • Peyton Hillis could dominate. Hillis had 82 yards against the New York Jets last week. The Jaguars don’t come close to the Jets when it comes to run defense, so it is scary to think what Hillis can do. The Jaguars give up just under 115 yards a game. The Browns have an underrated offensive line and can dominate the Jags up front. Hillis should easily rush for his fourth 100 yard game of the season.
  • David Garrard has to have a big game. While Maurice Jones-Drew is far and away the Jaguars' best weapon, teams load up the box against him, which makes them vulnerable against the pass. When Garrard can take advantage, Jacksonville wins. When Garrard throws more picks than touchdowns, the Jaguars lose. Only Michael Vick has a higher quarterback rating. Who would have thought?
  • The quarterback change that put Colt McCoy under center has been inspiring for the Browns. McCoy might not have first round talent, but he has the intangibles to be a great NFL quarterback. When the Browns lean on McCoy, they fall short. But his attempts increase because the ground game isn’t effective. McCoy has done well with what he has. The Browns may have found their guy moving forward.
  • Eight catches for 149 yards and the game winning touchdown is a heck of a game for anyone. Jaguars wide receiver Mike Thomas exploded onto the scene last week and dominated. While the Texans secondary is suspect, if Thomas can continue to take advantage of single coverage, he could make a living off the situations Jones-Drew presents.

 

Key Matchup:

Joe Thomas and the Browns O-line Vs the Aaron Kampman-less Jaguars D-Line

  • The Browns clearly have the upper hand in this matchup, but if the Jaguars can hold their own, they have a shot at competing. The loss of Aaron Kampman is not doing them any favors. It will be up to Tyson Alualu to try to neutralize the line of scrimmage battle. Hillis is dangerous as is. If the Browns don’t meet any sort of resistance, the Jaguars are in for a long afternoon.

 

Wrap Up:

I picked the Jaguars to win last week, but there is just no getting away from the string of performances put together by the Browns. I’m still not sold on the Browns entirely, but the Jaguars have overachieved their way to a winning record. While this isn’t a huge game for either team, it will be very telling of where their franchises are.

A Cleveland loss would give merit to the inconsistency argument. A Jacksonville loss would kick them out of the playoff picture. I can’t believe the Browns are the underdog in this one. Easy money.

Free NFL Pick: Cleveland +2

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