Dolphins vs. Browns Preview: Can Miami Continue to Make a Playoff Push?

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Dolphins vs. Browns Preview: Can Miami Continue to Make a Playoff Push?
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins—still hanging by a playoff thread—face the Cleveland Browns in their own house this Sunday. Will they beat up an inferior Cleveland opponent like their NBA counterpart?

Kickoff: Sunday, December 5, 2010

Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL

TV/Radio: CBS, 940 WINZ

Records: Miami 6-5, Cleveland 4-7

Line: Miami by five

 

Notes

  • Brandon Marshall practiced this week and should be able to play.
  • The Browns will start veteran Jake Delhomme at quarterback with Colt McCoy hurting.
  • Cameron Wake isn’t far off from the Dolphins single-season sack record at 18.5 (Jason Taylor and Bill Stanfill). He has 11 with five games to play.

 

When Miami Has the Ball

Cleveland’s defense is average at best. They give up 7.4 yards per pass attempt (21st in NFL) and 119.5 yards on the ground (21st in NFL).

Chad Henne had his greatest game as a Dolphins last week and will look to test the Browns’ secondary early. Brandon Marshall’s likely return will provide a nice boost to a receiving core that ripped through a very good Oakland secondary.

It would be nice to see Miami string together back-to-back productive rushing performances. They should swing Ronnie Brown out wide as Cleveland’s linebackers aren’t the fleetest of players. Outside of Eric Barton they don’t have much range.

In the secondary, Cleveland will likely start rookie Joe Haden who has excelled at times. Eric Wright’s status is in question. A Haden-Marshall matchup is definitely one for Miami to exploit.

 

When Cleveland Has the Ball

The Browns are an old-school football team that leans heavily on Peyton Hillis and the running game. He is a bruiser who will run over defenders at will. It’s imperative Miami takes good angles while swarming to the ball. He is very difficult to bring down at 6'1", 240.

Hillis is also a common target in the passing game with 46 receptions on the season. Contain him and this team doesn’t have much else. Josh Cribbs can gain some chunk yardage in the Wildcat formation, but he’s very fragile and the defense can anticipate his runs to the outside.

Cleveland has had inconsistent play at quarterback all season. Delhomme will be the starter this week. The former Panther mainstay has six interceptions against one touchdown on the season and has been counterproductive to Cleveland’s emphasis on taking care of the football.

If Miami can limit Cleveland’s ground production and force constant third-and-longs, Wake (11 sacks) and the Dolphin pass-rush will have another Thanksgiving feast.

The Browns are plus-four in turnover-ratio (10th in NFL). It’s one of the main reasons they have been competitive in most of their games this season despite a disparity in talent. When they are running the football with efficiency, they can beat anyone, as they proved in wins against the Patriots and Saints earlier in the year.

 

Three Keys

  1. Contain Hillis – There should be at least two defenders in on every tackle to bring down this beast.
  2. Protect the Football - Cleveland has won some games this year because of their ability to win the turnover battle.
  3. Keep the Browns D On Their Heels – Dan Henning did an excellent job last week at calling plays on offense that kept the defense off balance.

 

Quarterback

Running Back

Receiver/ Tight End

Offensive Line

Defensive Line

Linebacker

Secondary

Special Teams


Prediction

Miami is clearly the better team, but not by much. If Henne gets careless and makes a few costly mistakes, Cleveland can tear this win from Miami’s hands. He still should have another great game as this is a sub-par defense.

Miami wins this one at home, keeping their slim playoff hopes alive.

Miami 27 - Cleveland 20



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