With the Browns sitting at 3-5 and the St. Louis Rams coming into Cleveland on Sunday with a record of 1-7, this match-up isn’t exactly going to be a clash of the titans. Regardless, it’s a chance for the Browns to miraculously inch closer to being .500 on the season, so this game does carry some importance.
Despite their record, the Rams should not be taken lightly, especially when it comes to running the ball. As of now, the Browns have the NFL’s 30th-ranked rush defense, giving up 144 yards per game. Interestingly enough, the Rams have the league’s worst rush defense, surrendering 153.6 yards per game.
Knowing that, the game plans for both team shouldn’t be hard to figure out. One can expect to see both teams run the ball all day the long, and, if Peyton Hillis were healthy, it would be a much more even match-up. However, with both Hillis and Montario Hardesty out, the Rams have a real chance to dominate this aspect of the game.
When healthy, Steven Jackson is an elite workhorse running back for the Rams. As of right now, St. Louis has a middle-of-the-road rushing attack, averaging 111.4 yards per game, but Jackson is finally healthy and should have a big day against a tired Browns defense.
The Browns also currently boast the league’s best pass defense, giving up only 165.3 yards per game. While they haven’t exactly played against many elite quarterbacks so far, it’s even more reason to expect to see Jackson and Cadillac Williams often on Sunday.
Some have wondered about a drop-off for the defensive line in recent weeks, especially since rookies Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard haven’t managed to get much pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Call it hitting the rookie wall, but it’s far more likely that they’re simply being overworked in games. The offense cannot sustain any drives, and it’s wearing down everybody on the defense.
Browns fans should expect much of the same offensive ineptitude on Sunday, even with a relatively suspect Rams defense (besides, remember what the Browns mustered up against the Seahawks?). The outcome of this game likely sits in the hands of Steven Jackson, and it’s hard to believe that he won’t capitalize on this golden opportunity.