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Cleveland Browns: Five Bold Predictions for the Upcoming 2011 Season

Randy ChambersAnalyst IJune 20, 2011

Cleveland Browns: Five Bold Predictions for the Upcoming 2011 Season

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    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    The Cleveland Browns finished with a 5-11 record last season but showed some bright spots. Running back Peyton Hillis had a phenomenal year and quarterback Colt McCoy was out to prove he is the future of the Browns franchise.

    Now with a new head coach in Pat Shurmur, the Browns are looking to take another step forward this season.

    With the lockout still in effect, nobody knows what the 2011 NFL season has in store. That doesn't stop us from making predictions.

    Here are five bold predictions for your 2011 Cleveland Browns season.

Peyton Hillis Will Repeat the Great Season He Had Last Year

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    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    Why is it bold?

    Hillis has only been in the league for three seasons, and last year was his first productive one. Running backs come and go in this league, and not to mention, he is on the cover of Madden 12.

    Why it will happen

    Peyton Hillis is going to get his fair share of touches just because he is one of few players on that offense that can produce. He rushed for over 100 yards in five games last year, including a game against the Patriots in which he racked up 184 yards.

    He also has solid hands for a running back, catching 61 passes last season for 477 yards.

    Hillis showed last season that being 6'1, 240 pounds has its advantages, as teams had a hard time bringing him down. Look for the same this year as Hillis has another great season and breaks the Madden curse.

Benjamin Watson Will Top 1,000 Yards and Double Digit Touchdowns

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    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    Why is it bold?

    Watson has yet to have a 1,000-yard season in his seven-year career. The most touchdowns he has ever caught in a season was six, and that was with Tom Brady throwing to him.

    Why it will happen

    Besides Hillis, Watson is one of the few on the Browns offense that can make plays. Browns new head coach Pat Shurmur used several tight ends when he ran the St. Louis Rams offense, and should be thrilled to have a productive tight end like Watson.

    He had his best season last year with 68 catches for 763 yards, and the veteran should be leaned on more while quarterback Colt McCoy continues to grow.

    If Watson manages to put up these numbers, you may see him make the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career as well.

Josh Cribbs Will Have More Receiving Yards Then Punt Return Yards

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Why is it bold?

    Cribbs' best receiving season was last year, when he had 292 receiving yards. In his four seasons of having at least 20 punt returns, he has gone over 400 yards two times.

    Why it will happen

    Even with drafting receiver Greg Little, the Cleveland Browns are very thin at the wide receiver position. New head coach Pat Shurmur thinks Cribbs can be a playmaker on the offensive end and will look for ways to involve him more on that side of the ball. Why not? The guy has game-changing speed and will help spread the field.

    Cribbs may only have 500 receiving yards but that will be more than punt return yards, especially with most angling the ball out of bounds.

Jabaal Sheard Will Lead the Team in Sacks

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Why is it bold?

    Jabaal Sheard is a rookie and going through a lockout.

    Why it will happen

    Sheard is a 6'3, 264-pound monster that will be the starting defensive end on the right side for the Browns, come week one. Sheard is a gifted pass rusher with an explosive first step, and he has good intelligence and technique.

    In his three years starting for the Pittsburgh Panthers he racked up 19 sacks and 138 tackles.

    The Browns finished last season with 29 total sacks as a team. Linebacker Marcus Benard led the way with 7.5. Another young player will be the leader at the end of this season, and his name is Jabaal Sheard.

Colt McCoy Will Prove He Is the Browns Future with a Solid Season

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    Why is it bold?

    Entering only his second season. His first wasn't much of a success as he led them to a 2-6 record in the eight games he played in. He also threw three more touchdowns than interceptions.

    Why it will happen

    Despite the record McCoy had last season when he played, he showed bright spots that he can be successful in this league. McCoy finished the season with a 60 percent completion percentage, including completing 73 percent against the Patriots and 76 percent against the Bengals.

    The touchdown run against the Patriots in the game in which he led his team to victory was more than the highlight of his season. It showed McCoy may have just what it takes to be the future of the Browns franchise. During the lockout, he is breaking down the west coast offense to players and organizing offseason workouts.

    McCoy has displayed the leadership and the skill set to become the future of this Browns organization. If he can get some help at the wide receiver position and better protection from his offensive line, he will be in good shape.

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