The Seattle Seahawks come into town with the same record as the Cleveland Browns (2-3), but with a different attitude. While the Browns have been reeling in recent weeks, the Seahawks and their newly-revamped no-huddle offense have begun to points up on the board, most notably in a 36-25 victory over the New York Giants last week.
It will be an upset if the Browns win this game, no doubt. With the injuries piling up for the Browns on both sides of the ball, most victories from here on out will feel like upset wins.
That doesn’t mean it’s a hopeless cause, though. Here are five things the Browns need to do to win on Sunday:
1. Run the ball – The Seahawks boast one of the better run defenses in the league, but that doesn’t mean the Browns should abandon that aspect of the game, as they have at times this season. True, they will likely have more success through the air, but that will only come by attempting to establish a running game. With Peyton Hillis unavailable, Montario Hardesty will have to produce for the Browns to win.
2. Get pressure on Charlie Whitehurst - Tarvaris Jackson won’t be playing with a pectoral injury, so it’s up to quarterback Charlie Whitehurst to lead the Seahawks offense on Sunday. Seattle will likely employ the no-huddle offense that has been so successful in the last few games, and the Browns need to counter by getting pressure on Whitehurst. With Joe Haden only questionable and potentially limited if he does play, it’s up to the defensive line to slow down the Seahawks and keep the battered Browns defense working at a reasonable pace.
3. Continue to throw downfield – We saw it a little bit last week, and it had some positive results, but the Browns need to continue throwing the ball downfield. Doing so at least introduces the idea of creativity in your offense, opening up the playbook and taking some of that crushing pressure off the wide receivers. Quarterback Colt McCoy doesn’t even have to make a big completion downfield, though each time he aims 30 yards down the field, he at least makes it a possibility.
4. Give Colt McCoy time to throw – This is an easy one, but it’s something the Browns haven’t done most of this season. The offensive line, particularly the right side, has had a rough go of it, and it’s given Colt McCoy happy feet. People question where McCoy’s accuracy has suddenly disappeared to, but it’s likely the product of the quarterback never having much time to set himself in the pocket. Always being on the run tends to get into a quarterback’s head after a while – just ask Jay Cutler.
5. Get off to a fast start – Of all the Browns issues (and there are plenty to choose from), their biggest flaw is opening games – and second halves – with any sort of success offensively. The Browns continue to sleepwalk through the first and third quarters, making it impossible to play with a lead and, if they’re not careful, it can lead to a blowout. This isn’t a team that is able to make many big comebacks, so it’s important to keep the game as close as possible. The Browns are in need of a major confidence boost, and grabbing an early lead against the Seahawks should do the trick.