Coming off 3 straight wins the Cleveland Browns host the Detroit Lions this Sunday. Here we preview the “big uglies” in a game that may be decided in the passing game. While some unknowns face both teams on their offensive weapons, we should have a good idea how these units matchup.
Cleveland Offensive Line versus Detroit Front 7
Browns Starting Line from Left to Right: Joe Thomas, John Greco, Alex Mack, Shawn Lauvao, Mitchell Swartz
Lions Front 7 (4-3 Defense): DE Ezekial Ansah, DTs Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, DE Willie Young. LBs DeAndre Levy, Stephen Tulloch, Ashlee Palmer
Slowly but surely the Browns offensive line is coming together. While they still struggle with strength the return of Lauvao has done wonders for the team. Brian Hoyer’s quick release was also helpful for the line. With the return of Brandon Weeden the line must hold their blocks longer and get their hands on the defensive linemen to keep passes from being batted down. The interior of the line will be key defending the line of the Lions.
The Lions front 4 starts with Suh and Fairley in the middle. Both have the ability to dominate games. Ansah, the rookie selected just before Barkevious Mingo, leads all rookies in sacks and has dynamic athletic ability. He should get 1 on 1 blocking while the Browns put attention inside. He and Young could feast if the Browns have to focus on Suh and Fairley. The Browns may have to get creative to get any rushing against this line, or rush outside which would be more carries for rookie Bobby Rainey instead of Willis McGahee.
Advantage: Lions - While the Browns have improved in this area they don’t have the power up front to move Suh or Fairley off the ball. With Weeden in the game the Browns will have to hold their blocks longer and may struggle with the outside speed of Young and Ansah because of that. Expect the Browns to have to get creative in pass protection to try to balance out the Lions advantage.
Lions Offensive Line versus Cleveland Front 7
Lions Starting Line from Left to Right: Riley Reiff, Rob Sims, Dominic Raiola, Larry Warford, Jason Fox
Cleveland Front 7 (3-4 Defense): DE Desmond Bryant, NT Phil Taylor, DE Ahtyba Rubin, OLB Paul Kruger, ILBs D’Qwell Jackson and Craig Robertson and OLB Jabaal Sheard
The Lions are 22nd in rushing but 6th in passing offense. With Matthew Stafford, who likes to throw the ball deep to Calvin Johnson they have had to hold blocks long. Reggie Bush has opened up the running game especially when defenses focus on Johnson. The Lions have only given up 8 sacks for the season so far, with 5 of those coming last week. None of the Lions linemen are known names but have done an adequate job so far this season. They will need to be better then adequate this week.
The Browns are tied for 3rd in the league with 18 sacks. The defense is currently 7th in passing yards and 8th in rushing. The defense has shut down high quality running games, even last week against the Bills they were solid most of the night, except for the long CJ Spiller run. The return of Jabaal Sheard will be helpful as the Browns linebackers had played all of the defensive snaps while Sheard and Quentin Groves were out hurt, the return of both will give them a break and fresh legs will help. If Calvin Johnson is out the Browns will look to shutdown the running game as well as Bush in the passing game.
Advantage: Browns - The Browns defense is the bedrock of the team. Whether Johnson is back or not, the team will have the ability to put Joe Haden on him and focus on stopping the run and Bush in the flats. The Browns have the talent up front to be up for the task.
So far the match-up is a tie. Tomorrow we will break down the offensive weapons and their defenders.
Browns fans did I overrate the home team’s defense? Lions fans how did I underrate your team? Let me know!