Browns-Lions: Game Scout

The data you need for the game that draws snickers from fans across the country...

Cleveland Browns (1-8) at Detroit Lions (1-8)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET

GAMEDATE: 11/22/09

SURFACE: FieldTurf

TV: CBS (Don Criqui, Randy Cross)

PREDICTION: Lions 20-16

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Browns rarely attempt to stretch the field under QB Brady Quinn, who lacks the arm strength, pass protection and big-play receivers necessary to truly threaten secondaries - even Detroit's unit allowing a league-high 271.7 yards per game. So he needs a strong ground attack to set up the intermediate passing game. The Lions' offense also tends to be run-based, but rookie QB Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson are developing a good connection - as long as Stafford (6 TDs, 12 INTs) protects the ball.

Need to know: The Browns are 1-4 on the road, with each loss by at least 13 points. ... Cleveland enters with a minus-13 turnover margin while Detroit is at minus-6.



--WR Josh Cribbs practiced on a limited basis Thursday. He did not practice Wednesday because of a neck injury.

--RT John St. Clair practiced on a limited basis. He missed Wednesday with a shoulder injury.

--WR Jake Allen, acquired off waivers from the Packers Wednesday, practiced Thursday. Whether he is active Sunday could depend on how Chansi Stuckey is. Stuckey missed the game against Baltimore with a calf injury. He was limited Thursday with the injury.

--FB Lawrence Vickers missed practice Wednesday with a shoulder injury, but he practiced Thursday on a limited basis.

--NT Shaun Rogers was limited in practice with a sore back.


--LB Zack Follett was added to the injury report Thursday. He did not practice because of a neck injury.

--S Kalvin Pearson did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of a hamstring injury. He plans to test it Friday but seems doubtful for Sunday.

--G Stephen Peterman did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of a significant ankle injury. He is out indefinitely but has not been put on IR.

--LB Ernie Sims did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of a hamstring injury. He is unlikely to play.

--DE Dewayne White did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of a toe injury. He played with it Sunday at Minnesota, though.

--WR Derrick Williams returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday because of a hip injury. He was listed as limited.



On Sunday the Browns and Lions meet in a game that pits the team that has scored the fewest number of points -- the Browns (78) -- against the team that has allowed the most -- the Lions (264).

As odd as it sounds, which 1-8 team prevails could come down to how the Browns' defense fares against Lions rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford has thrown 12 interceptions. Daunte Culpepper has thrown two picks and Drew Stanton has thrown a pair.

The 16 interceptions by the Lions' quarterbacks are one more than Derek Anderson (9), Brady Quinn (5) and Josh Cribbs (1) have thrown. The reason the Browns have so many more giveaways (25) than Detroit (16) is the Lions have had luckier bounces when they fumble. The Browns have fumbled 16 times and lost 10. The Lions have fumbled 15 times and lost three.

The Browns, on the other hand, have intercepted only four passes, which is only 1.4 percent of the passes opposing quarterbacks have thrown. That interception percentage is the lowest in the league.

The only starting quarterbacks rated lower than Stafford (59.5 rating) are JaMarcus Russell (47.7) and Anderson (36.2), and Russell and Anderson have been benched.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz is determined to let Stafford learn on the job. Browns coach Eric Mangini warns not to be deceived by Stafford's low rating.

"There are a lot of different reasons why that could be what it is," Mangini said. "Interceptions affect passer rating quite a bit and he's had some of those. There have been a lot of good throws on tape. There have been some tight throws in Cover Two, in between the corner and safety and some nice throws on the fade ball. He does a good job with the outs to the tight ends and slot receivers."

Allowing big plays has been a major problem for the Browns all season. Through nine games they have allowed 39 plays of 20 yards or more. They allowed 11 in the 27-14 loss in Pittsburgh. The staggering statistic is a major reason the Browns rank dead last in defense.

"We're a good team and we need to put some things together," left cornerback Eric Wright said. "Everybody is working hard and has an open mind at this point. We're continuing to work and press forward and try to get better."

Sloppy tackling has been part of the problem, as in the Green Bay game when Brodney Pool whiffed on Donald Driver. That mistake turned a 15-yard gain into a 71-yard touchdown pass.

Eric Wright will be matched against Calvin Johnson most of the time. At other times it will be Johnson vs. Brandon McDonald. Both cornerbacks are 5-10. Johnson is 6-5.

McDonald gave up a short pass to Derrick Mason that turned into a 41-yard gain on Monday to set up the first touchdown in a 16-0 loss to the Ravens. McDonald expects Stafford to pick on him.

"I'm discouraged," McDonald said. "I've been inconsistent. I know what kind of player I can be, but I don't think I've showcased that on a consistent basis. I'm discouraged because I don't like to be thought of as a guy that can't do something."

The Browns have given up 10 touchdown passes this season.


To give rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford a chance Sunday against Cleveland, the Lions must help him on both ends of the equation. They must give him more time to throw, and they must catch the ball better.

In their last game, a 27-10 loss at Minnesota, they allowed him to be hit 16 times and dropped four or five passes.

The pass protection issues had a lot to do with the circumstances. The Vikings have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL -- front sevens, for that matter -- and the Metrodome is one of the loudest buildings in the league. The Lions had a lot of communication problems.

"We've got to do a better job of communicating some of the pressure looks so we can deliver the ball without being under duress," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said.

The Browns are as bad as the Lions at 1-8. But their front can cause havoc, starting with former Lions defensive tackle Shaun Rogers at the nose of a 3-4 scheme.

"Rogers is like a lot of those big, giant defensive tackles you see in this league, but the difference is now you see him playing up over the center at times," Linehan said. "So we've got to do a good job of helping our center and accounting for him.

"But you put too much pressure on yourself to block one guy, and then they've got some other guys that can do some damage on one-on-one blocking situations, so we've got to account for all 11, to be honest with you."

If Stafford gets the ball out, his teammates have to catch it. The problem has involved wide receivers, tight ends and running backs, from star Calvin Johnson to rookie Brandon Pettigrew.

"It's been a little bit contagious," coach Jim Schwartz said. "It's something that's a concern to us. It's something that we've got to be able to do."

It didn't start Sunday, either. It started Nov. 1 against St. Louis, when the Lions dropped six.

"There's been a number, and it disrupts our ability to maintain drives," Linehan said. "You're going to have one a game, maybe. Someone's going to drop a ball. Sometimes we're hard on them. It's a tough catch, too. Quarterback could throw it and make it an easier catch. But if they hit your hands, you expect them to catch it."

It comes down to concentration and executing basic fundamentals.

"A lot of us are trying to make the play before we even have the ball, and that has caused some of the dropped passes," said wide receiver Bryant Johnson, who dropped a would-be touchdown late in the first half Sunday. "I just think just honing in more, focusing and looking the ball all the way into your hands, that will solve the problem."

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