KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
TV: CBS, Dick Enberg, Randy Cross
INTERNET: OBR Gameday Live (starts 3PM)
RADIO: OBR Post-Game Show (starts immediately following the game)
SERIES: 19th meeting. The Browns lead the series, 11-7, and won the only playoff game they played against the Jets. If recent history is an indicator of what to expect, the Browns should fare well because they won the last two times they played in Giants Stadium. The Browns built a 20-3 lead against the Jets in a game in Cleveland last season and held on to win, 20-13. Reuben Droughns was a workhorse, carrying the ball 33 times for 125 yards and a touchdown.
PREDICTION: Browns 30-24
KEYS TO THE GAME: With the Jets posting 13 sacks the past three weeks, look for the Browns to come out pounding away with RB Jamal Lewis against the league's No. 29-ranked run defense. That would also help get QB Derek Anderson into the flow after the Browns played catch-up all day following two early Anderson turnovers in Arizona. ... The Jets are focusing on getting the ball into the hands of RB Leon Washington, one of their few big-play threats who had 10 carries last week and took a direct snap. They're also starting to incorporate more gadget plays to help take pressure of QB Kellen Clemens, who has been sacked 19 times in five starts.
KEY INJURIES: Browns: DTs Robaire Smith (neck) and Orpheus Roye (knee) are uncertain; CB Eric Wright (knee) has been practicing in limited fashion. Jets: WR Laveranues Coles (high ankle sprain) will play, but could have his snaps limited again; WR Jerricho Cotchery (finger) is likely out.
FAST FACTS: Browns WR Braylon Edwards' 12 TD receptions is tied with Paul Warfield for the second most in a single season in franchise history. ... Jets rookie LB David Harris, who took over for injured Jonathan Vilma, leads the team with 82 tackles.
--CB Eric Wright expects to play against the Jets. He practiced Wednesday and Thursday after missing the last two games with a knee injury.
--RDE Robaire Smith practiced Thursday after missing Wednesday with a sore neck. He dismissed the injury as 'bumps and bruises at this time of year' and vows to play Sunday.
--LDE Orpheus Roye practiced for the first time since playing against the Texans Nov. 25.
--TE Steve Heiden missed practice with an ankle injury.
--LB Antwan Peek missed practice with a sore knee. He routinely rests in the early part of the week.
--WR Laveranues Coles (ankle) was limited in practice Thursday but is expected to play against Cleveland, although it could be a game-day decision.
--WR Jerricho Cotchery (finger) missed practice for the fifth straight time Thursday and could miss the rest of the season.
--RB Leon Washington tied a season-high with 12 offensive touches against Miami and could again be an integral part of the game plan versus Cleveland.
--TE Chris Baker is still battling back stiffness sometimes, but will play against Cleveland.
--LB David Harris was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month. In his last four games, he has 44 tackles and two sacks.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
Josh Cribbs' last chance this season to prove to coaches and players he belongs in the Pro Bowl as the kick returner in the AFC comes Sunday when the Browns face the Jets in Giants Stadium. The voting deadline is Dec. 14.
Cribbs leads the NFL with a 31.2-yard return average. The Jets' Leon Washington is second with a 30.6 average. But Washington has returned three kicks for touchdowns -- one more than Cribbs.
Currently, Cribbs is second in voting by fans with 110,195 votes. Washington is sixth. The leader among kick returners is Wes Welker from the Patriots with 112,216 votes. The deadline for fans to vote is Tuesday.
"I'd be a fool to say I don't see personal gain from this game, but I'm just concentrating on winning," Cribbs said. "We have a chance to do something great on this football team.
"We have a lot of people on our kick return unit banged up. We have a lot of preparing to do for this game. Maybe (Pro Bowl voting) will come down to that, but I'm preparing to do my job and do it well."
Two weeks after the Ravens stubbornly kept kicking to Cribbs, a strategy that ultimately caused Baltimore to lose, the Cardinals last week wisely kicked away from him all but one time.
Browns coach Romeo Crennel and Jets coach Eric Mangini, close friends from their days coaching together with the Jets and in New England, will be faced with the same predicament. Will Crennel order Phil Dawson to kick away from Washington, or does Dawson kick deep and rely on the kick coverage unit? Mangini is faced with the same questions.
"That's a possibility. I think you might mix it up on them," Crennel said.
Mangini, not about to tip his hand on a conference call with reporters covering the Browns, said he is undecided about kicking to Cribbs.
"Any time you face a returner as explosive as Cribbs or Leon you have to make that choice," Mangini said. "We'll look at it through the course of the week and figure out the plan that's best for us."
Answers to those questions could be a factor in the Pro Bowl voting, though neither Crennel nor Mangini will be thinking about Hawaii as they finalize their game plans. They could also be a factor in determining where the Browns are in the playoff chase after Sunday. The Browns are 7-5, tied with Tennessee for the second AFC wild card spot.
Cribbs said the kick return unit prepares for the opponent to kick short or high and short. At times Cribbs has waited on the 10 or 15, anticipating a short kick. He did that against the Ravens and then retreated to the goal line when he saw Matt Stover striding toward the ball to kick deep.
"You have an ego thing that goes on in the league," Cribbs said. "It's not disrespectful to me, but kickoff teams will feel disrespected if they feel they can't kick it to a certain player.
"But enough is enough, I guess. After what happened against Baltimore, (Arizona) took me out of that factor of our game. If they're going to give us the ball at the 35, 39 yard line every time, we'll take that."
Laveranues Coles has been limping all this week around the Jets' locker room, looking nothing like the player who had five receptions for 69 yards in the Jets' 40-13 victory over Miami on Sunday.
The fact that he started "was truly a game-time decision," Coles said Wednesday, adding that he didn't know when he woke up that morning if he would play.
"Of course, I'm always trying to push myself," Coles said, "but it was one of those things that I didn't actually know until it was actually time to play. ... I didn't know to what extent I would be able to help the team."
Coles' high ankle sprain bothered him on every play, and thus he wasn't in for every offensive snap as he normally would be.
"Before the snap (on each play), I was feeling a lot of pain," he said. "Once the ball was snapped, I was able to push through it. Once the play was over, it was there again. It was one of those things where I was fortunate enough to make it through the game, help contribute and get us a win."
On the Jets' first drive, Coles converted a third-and-12 from the Jets' 38 with a 32-yard reception, and then demonstratively made a first-down signal.
"It was exciting for me," he said, "because I was out there and I was able to make a play. I didn't know to what extent I would be able to help. In my mind, I thought if I was on the field, I would be able to draw coverage and take attention away from other guys, but I didn't know how much I was going to be able to contribute."
"One thing you know about L.C.," quarterback Kellen Clemens said, "is that if he's cleared to go and he's allowed to play, he's going to give it his all and he's going to look good. L.C. not at 100 percent is still a very good wide receiver."
Coles may have to deal with this pain the rest of the season, although he's hoping the ankle heals quickly.
"I hope I don't wake up feeling the same way," he said, "especially Sunday. I'm taking it day-by-day. That's all I can do."
Yet it probably will again be a game-day decision against Cleveland. The Jets (3-9) need him in there against the Browns (7-5), particularly because it looks as if fellow wideout Jerricho Cotchery (finger surgery) won't be able to play and could be out for the season.
When asked if he would hesitate playing hurt for the Jets' organization, Coles responded, "It's not about the organization. It's about your teammates. Those are the people that you're out there with. Those are the people who you went through training camp with and the guys that you have a brotherly love with that no matter what the business side shows, you still want to go out and compete with them. You let the business side take care of itself in the offseason and that's when you kind of push back and say, 'I need to look at myself and what's best for my family.'"