Carolina Panthers vs. Cleveland Browns: How Cleveland Can Tame the Panthers
The last-place 1-9 Carolina Panthers come north to cold and frigid Cleveland to take on the Cleveland Browns.
For Cleveland they will try to end their two-game losing streak after losing two tough games to the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars.
For the Panthers they will start rookie quarterback, Jimmy Clausen on the road against former franchise quarterback and current starting Browns QB, Jake Delhomme.
It is the past vs the present in this game as the subplots of Mike Holmgren famously passing on Clausen because he didn't "like him enough" vs the quarterback that helped Carolina rise from expansion obscurity to the heights of the Super Bowl in Jake Delhomme.
The only thing missing from this game is a Hollywood script written by Christopher Nolan and some pulled pork.
#1: Make Jimmy Clausen a Non-Factor
The Carolina Panthers will be starting their rookie quarterback from Notre Dame, Jimmy Clausen against a defense that allows the 10th fewest points in the league at 20.0 but does give up a good number of yards on the ground and air as Cleveland ranks 22nd by giving up a average of 243.4 yards a game passing and 116.4 yards a game on the ground.
Clausen has the tools to be a legit QB in the league as he has shown some fair mobility, a nice touch throwing the ball down field, if Clausen can get into a rhythm and the Browns fail to generate any pressure look for Clausen to have a good game vs Cleveland.
#2: The Browns Must Contain Panthers RB, Mike Goodson
For the Browns to improve to 4-7, they must find a way to contain the Panthers dual-threat running back/kick returner, Mike Goodson.
A second-year player out of Texas A&M, Goodson will be filling in for staring tailback, Jonathan Stewart who is out with a concussion.
Goodson is currently second behind DeAngelo Williams with 270 yards rushing and could look to take some pressure off of Clausen.
If Goodson goes off and has a good game, then Carolina can pull the upset.
#3: The Browns Must Watch Out For David Gettis
Talking about the Carolina Panther's you usually mention All-Pro wide receiver, Steve Smith in the same sentence, and while the Browns will have their attention directed at Smith, what the Browns must also guard against is Panther's wide receiver, David Gettis making plays downfield as well.
A rookie drafted from Baylor, Gettis leads the Panthers with three touchdown catches and is second behind Smith in receptions with 26 and yards with 400.
If Clausen can find Gettis deep, then Cleveland will be in for a long day.
#4: The Browns Must Protect Jake Delhomme
It has been a good while since the Browns have last had Delhomme under center for Cleveland, and if the Browns hope to win then they must do a better job of pass protection, especially with the less mobile Jake Delhomme returning from a high ankle injury.
The Browns allowed Colt McCoy to get sacked six times last week down in Jacksonville and with McCoy not playing due to a high ankle sprain of his own, the Browns will have to do a much better job of protecting Delhomme.
For Jake Delhomme you can be sure that he is relishing a chance to show up his former team, look for Delhomme to play inspired on Sunday.
#5: Mohamed Massqoui Will Have a Breakout Game
Sometimes the one thing a wide receiver needs to get un-tracked in the NFL is a game against a porous defense and Carolina certain has that for Cleveland Browns WR, Mohamed Massaqoui.
the second year wide out from Georgia has the potential and ability to burn the Panther's deep and with Jake Delhomme coming back from injury maybe Massaqoui can regain the chemistry he seemed to have with Delhomme back in Week 1 down in Tampa in which he caught a 41-yard touchdown pass.
Look for Massaqoui and Delhomme to reconnect down field.
#6: Look For Peyton Hillis To Have a Monster Game.
Cleveland Browns versatile halfback, Peyton Hillis must be licking his chops for the chance to punish the Carolina's 24th ranked run defense in the cold and frigid Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Hillis who is putting up Pro-Bowl worthy numbers currently has 1,125 yards rushing and receiving and ten touchdowns.
if the Browns are up on the Panthers look for Hillis to wear them down with some tough punishing runs inside to take pressure off of Jake Delhomme and the Browns anemic passing game.
#7: Look For T.J Ward To Be Physical on Panther Receivers
Cleveland Browns rookie safety, T.J Ward is quickly making a name for himself as one of the hardest-hitting and physical safeties in the NFL, currently he leads Cleveland in total tackles with 80 including 61 solo tackles and one forced fumble.
If Carolina is attempting to pass deep they are gonna have to account for Ward at some point and in the run game, Ward can also bring some run support to negate DeAngelo Willams and Mike Goodson.
Look for T.J. Ward to make his presence felt on Sunday.
#8: Look For Joe Haden To Have a Breakout Game.
Browns rookie defensive back, Joe Haden will most likely draw fellow rookie WR, David Gettis of Carolina and couple that with a rookie quarterback in Jimmy Clausen and this could be a game in which Haden will make a couple of big plays for the Browns.
With the much-maligned Eric Wright on the hot seat in the Cleveland media, Haden can firmly assert himself as the starting cornerback with another solid performance.
Haden currently leads the Browns with three interceptions and also has 37 total tackles for Cleveland so far this year.
#9: A Possible Carlton Mitchell Cameo? Let's Hope So!
Browns rookie wide receiver from South Florida, Carlton Mitchell is generating more buzz that a 500-watt light bulb and if you're a Browns fan you can understand the intrigue and curiosity for this physical specimen.
At 6'4 and a solid 200lbs, Mitchell can best be described as a clone of Miami Dolphins wide receiver, Brandon Marshall, so what's the holdup in getting this guy on the field?
You have a unit that consists of a injured Joshua Cribbs, a huge bust in Brian Robiskie a fumble-prone wide receiver in Chansi Stuckey, what do you have to lose, can you imagine a tandem of Mitchell, Massaqoui on the outside and Evan Moore split out.
That's what I thought, Mitchell needs to get a shot at playing and soon.
#10: Look For The Browns To Play Tough and Hard
At 3-7, Cleveland is all but eliminated from a possible AFC Wild card after losing the last two games, but what the Browns can start working towards is playing better and more consistent football down the stretch with a more favorable schedule coming up.
Jake Delhomme really wants a shot at redemption against his former team, the Browns need a win to stop a two-game losing streak and continue to build towards respectability.
The Browns must protect Delhomme, run Hillis early and often and get Massaqoui, Stuckey and Mitchell involved in the game.
Look for Cleveland to win big.
Prediction: Browns 31 Carolina 10
You have a struggling team with a rookie quarterback on the road in frigid temperatures against a team on the rise in Cleveland.
The Browns are a couple of pieces away from contention, they have finally found their franchise quarterback in Colt McCoy, a powerful bruising running back in Peyton Hillis and a nice young defense led by rookies T.J. Ward and Joe Haden.
For Carolina, they have potential in Jimmy Clausen and maybe he will be the answer for the Panthers one day and they certain have unearthed a gem in rookie wide out, David Gettis.
But Sunday will be a cold lesson for the Panthers as Peyton Hillis will run all over them in a Cleveland rout, 31-10.