KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: CBS (Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon)
SERIES: 6th regular-season meeting. Browns lead series, 3-2, with Houston never winning in Cleveland. The Texans fell 27-17 last season by Lake Erie. Houston led 10-7 midway through the second quarter, but saw the Browns score 20 consecutive points to push their lead to 27-10.
PREDICTION: Browns 30-27
KEYS TO THE GAME: In four appearances this season, Texans QB Sage Rosenfels has thrown seven interceptions and lost two fumbles. He should have little trouble moving the ball between the 20s against the league's 26th-ranked defense. But Houston can help keep Rosenfels out of dangerous passing situations by pounding rookie RB Steve Slaton against a run defense giving up 149.3 yards per game while suffering with poor tackling. ... The availability of QB Brady Quinn and TE Kellen Winslow will dictate some of what the Browns do offensively. Winslow leads the team with 39 receptions and his presence would keep the Texans from rolling coverage to WR Braylon Edwards. Quinn has managed the passing game well in two starts, and his mobility is needed with the Browns expecting to see a heavy rush after Buffalo was able to apply good pressure Monday night. And with his backups ailing, RB Jamal Lewis might have to shoulder a heavier workload.
Key Injuries: Texans: DT Amobi Okoye (ankle) should play but DT Travis Johnson (ankle) is uncertain; QB Matt Schaub (knee) is expected to miss four more games. Browns: Quinn (broken right index finger) will try to play; Winslow (shoulder) and RBs Jerome Harrison (hamstring) and Jason Wright (neck) are uncertain.
Need to know: Texans WR Andre Johnson needs 45 receiving yards to reach 1,000 for the third time in his career. ... Opposing quarterbacks are completing 62.5 percent of their passes against the Browns.
--LG Chester Pitts (calf) didn't practice Thursday, but it's still possible he will play Sunday.
--CB Dunta Robinson is expected to make his first start of the season this weekend. He will play at one of the outside positions, though the coaches aren't saying whether he will replace Jacques Reeves or Fred Bennett.
--LB Morlon Greenwood (ankle) will not start this week, but he will be available to back up all three linebacker positions.
--G Chris White will be the primary backup to Chester Pitts if Pitts is too hurt to play this week. He has practiced with the first-team offensive line all week.
--RB Steve Slaton has been limited in practice this week because of a bruised chest, but he isn't expected to be limited in the game by the injury.
--TE Kellen Winslow was held out of practice again Thursday with a sprained right shoulder.
--RB Jerome Harrison missed practice for a second straight day with a hamstring injury.
--RB Jason Wright was limited in practice because he is recovering from a stinger.
--FB Lawrence Vickers practiced for the first time since spraining his ankle in Jacksonville on Oct. 26.
--NT Shaun Rogers returned to practice after resting his sore shoulder on Wednesday.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Winning is not coming easy to the Texans these days. Throw in a handful of road trips, and the task gets even more difficult.
This weekend, the Texans will travel to Cleveland for their third road trip in four weeks. It's a city where snow flurries are likely on Friday, and the high predicted for Sunday is 38 degrees.
But put the Texans in the cold, throw them in a warm city or set them in the confines of a dome -- the weather is the least of the team's concerns as they try to break a winless streak on the road that began more than a year ago.
The Texans are 0-5 this season and have lost their last eight road games dating back to last November. Only Detroit (10 games) and Kansas City (9) currently boast longer losing streaks away from home.
"You figure a football field is a football field," Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson said. "That's kind of the way I look at it. You should be able to play no matter where you go. You shouldn't have to worry about the fans as long as they're staying in the stands.
"We're just not playing good on the road. There's a lot of things that we've got to get corrected and a lot of things that we've got to do better and playing on the road is one of those things that we have to do better."
The Texans defense has especially struggled away from home this season. In five road games, they have allowed 161.4 rushing yards per game. In five home games, they have held opponents to an average of just 98.4 rushing yards.
They are also giving up an average of 32 points per game on the road, compared to 25 points per game at home.
Offensively, the Texans are scoring an average of 20.8 points away from home and 26.4 at Reliant Stadium. They have rushed for more than 100 yards in four of their five home games, but they have done the same in only two of five road games.
"You've got to play with the same confidence on the road as you do at home," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "Being a good running football team and a good defensive football team is usually a deadly combination on the road."
The Miami Dolphins were the only team in the league to finish last season winless on the road. The Oakland Raiders did the same in 2006. And in 2005, the Texans were one of three teams to finish 0-8 away from home.
Since joining the league in 2002, the Texans have won just 11 of 53 road games (20.8 winning percentage). Their last victory on the road against an AFC South foe came two years ago when they defeated Jacksonville on Nov. 12, 2006.
"It's bad," right tackle Eric Winston said. "There's no other way to put it. It's not a good record to have. We've got to find a way to get a road win. It's as simple as that."
Brady Quinn has a small fracture on the tip of the index finger of his throwing hand, Browns coach Romeo Crennel revealed Thursday morning. The injury will not prevent Quinn from starting against the Texans on Sunday in Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Quinn was injured Monday night in Buffalo when he banged his right hand on the helmet of one of the Bills while following through on a pass. He experienced initial soreness, but continued playing.
Players had Tuesday off. Quinn experienced discomfort in practice Wednesday. Afterward, the hand was X-rayed and then on Thursday morning a hand specialist from The Cleveland Clinic examined Quinn's finger and discovered the fracture.
"I banged up my finger in the first quarter and hit it again in the second quarter," Quinn said Thursday. "At this point it's a little sore. I practiced yesterday. I'm practicing today. We're doing the best we can to take precautions and make sure it's all right."
Quinn wore a splint on the injured finger in the locker room Thursday. He will not wear the splint in practice or in games. He said he was surprised to learn it was fractured. His passes wobbled while he threw warm-up tosses Thursday, but then they smoothed out.
The Browns are 1-1 with Quinn starting. The injury could explain why he completed only 14 of 36 passes in Buffalo. Weather conditions were poor, but Bills quarterback Trent Edwards completed 16 of 26 passes. Ten of them were to running back Marshawn Lynch.
Quinn has yet to throw an interception. He was nearly picked off twice in the Buffalo game, but the Bills defenders dropped both passes. One, for Donte Stallworth in the front of the Browns bench in the final two minutes, should have been intercepted by Leodis McKelvin, but the ball squirted through McKelvin's hands.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, while the Browns were trying to expand a 26-20 lead, Quinn was under a heavy rush on second-and-7 from the Browns 20. Instead of eating the ball on a sack, Quinn threw the ball high toward no Brown in particular. The Bills' Ko Simpson dived and appeared to intercept, but Crennel challenged the call and replays showed the ball hit the ground.
"There were a couple times he was a little lucky, but I'll take a little luck," Crennel said. "He was tested, but he was able to hang in there and manage it and move us into position to get that field goal at the end.
"I thought overall he handled the pressure pretty well, because they were bringing it and putting it right in his face. I thought he stayed composed, ran the offense and managed the game."
Quinn will try to lead the Browns to only their second victory in Cleveland Browns Stadium this season. They were 7-1 at home last year but are 1-4 in Cleveland this year. After facing the Texans, they play the Colts at home a week from Sunday. Their final home game is against the Bengals on Dec. 21.