Where: Browns Stadium
When: Sunday, 1:00 PM ET
- Browns: Out - RB Jamal Lewis; Doubtful - TE Darnell Dinkins; Questionable - S Gary Baxter, WR Joe Jurevicius, S Brodney Pool; Probable - RB Charles Ali, TE Kellen Winslow
- Dolphins: Out - QB Trent Green, DT Vonnie Holliday, S Travares Tillman; Questionable - WR Derek Hagan, DT Rodrique Wright; Probable - RB Ronnie Brown, LB Channing Crowder, K Jay Feely, C Samson Satele, DE Jason Taylor, S Cameron Worrell
| Browns || Unit || Dolphins |
| + || Quarterbacks || |
| || Running backs || + |
| + || Receivers || |
| + || Offensive line || |
| + || Defensive line || |
| || Linebackers || + |
| || Secondary || + |
| + || Special teams || |
| + || Coaches || |
| + || Overall Advantage || |
Keys to the Game:
- Was last week's effectiveness at stopping the run a fluke or a true sign of improvement for the Dolphins defense? The return of Zach Thomas worked wonders for Miami's run D last week. This week the defense gets Channing Crowder and Donovin Darius back as well. In addition, the Browns' starting running back, Jamal Lewis, will not be playing. Things seem to be leaning in favor of Miami putting up another solid week stuffing the run. Then again, Vonnie Holliday won't be playing and Cleveland's offensive line has been playing pretty well. It will be key to force Derek Anderson into becoming one dimensional by shutting down the running game.
- Can Miami's secondary take advantage of Anderson's mistakes? Anderson leads the AFC with 8 INTs this season. He is prone to making mistakes. However, it's unclear whether Miami has the ability to actually force him into making mistakes. The pass rush has simply not been there on a consistent basis. The secondary will need to step up its game this week if Jason Taylor and Co. can't pressure the QB. It's basically a matchup between a guy who throws a lot of INTs versus a secondary that doesn't come up with many INTs. Whoever comes out on top in this battle will give their team a large advantage.
- Just how stupid will Joey Porter look after this game? I realize the coaching staff isn't using Porter in ways that play to his strengths as a pass rusher. Still, he should stop spouting his mouth until he's proven that he can at least make a single play for this team. This week, he's calling out Kellen Winslow, and I have a bad feeling that Winslow is going to victimize Porter at least once in this game. Porter couldn't back up his talk against Oakland and I don't think he'll be able to do it this week either.
- How will Cleo Lemon adjust to being the starter? We saw last year in Week 17 that Lemon can turn in a solid day's work as a starting QB. I think he'll be able to do the same this week, especially since he's playing against a porous Browns secondary. The opportunities to air it out will be there since Cleveland's top priority will be stopping Ronnie Brown. If they put 8 men in the box, look for the play-action to spring Chris Chambers and maybe even Ted Ginn Jr. down field. One knock on Trent Green was that he couldn't reliably throw the deep ball. Lemon's got a strong arm, so hopefully it will be put to good use.
- Cleveland: WR Braylon Edwards - Miami doesn't really have a cornerback who can shut down Edwards single-handedly all game (I don't think most teams do). Edwards will have his chances, and he could find himself open deep a time or two.
- Miami: QB Cleo Lemon - The Browns have a surprisingly good offense, so Miami will need some big plays in the passing game in order to keep the score close. The Browns secondary is a weakness. Lemon will have to remain calm under pressure in order to take advantage of that weakness.
Although this game has the possibility of being somewhat of a blowout for the Browns, I think Miami will be able to keep it close. Unfortunately, I think that Cleveland's offense has been too efficient and Miami's defense has been too prone to collapse for me to predict a win.
Cleveland wins 23-20.