After being ambushed by the St. Louis Rams in what was supposed to be a cakewalk to a 7-1 record at midseason, the Redskins will be sure that the Browns do not sneak up on them.
The question is, will it matter?
The Browns broke out of a season-long funk on Monday as they spanked the defending champion New York Giants 35-14. At the core of their woes going into that game was quarterback Derek Anderson, who was erratic at best and almost was benched on a few occasions. It now seems that Brady Quinn will stay anchored to the bench for a while longer Anderson went 18 for 29 for 310 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants.
His favorite target was 6-3 receiver Braylon Edwards. Not coincidentally, Edwards also was struggling this year prior to Monday night. He torched the Giants for 154 yards and a touchdown on just five catches.
The Cleveland defense played well, getting three interceptions off of Eli Manning, who decided that it would be a good idea to start throwing off of his back foot. Eric Wright returned the third pick 94 yards for the clinching touchdown.
In order for the Redskins to beat the Browns, they will need more than just being in the proper mental state. They'll need to put pressure on Anderson, something the Giants failed to do. They'll need to do that while keeping a blanket on Edwards. They'll need to keep Jason Campbell's streak of interception-free play this season intact.
The Redskins can go a long ways towards achieving those goals by exploiting one of the few sore spots for the Browns on Monday. The Giants rushed for 181 yards, averaging 7.2 yards a carry. There were no long runs to puff up the average; their longest gain was 18 yards.
This wasn't a fluke poor performance by the Cleveland run defense. They are 25th in the league in that category, giving up an average of 134 yards per game.
Running the ball, of course, is right up the Redskins' alley. Clinton Portis leads the NFL with 643 rushing yards and as a team the Skins are third in the NFL, averaging 152 yards per game on the ground.
Still, the Redskins may have to throw a bit more than they might want to. Shaun Alexander isn't used to running behind this offensive line, which does a good job of creating daylight but the running back needs to know how to read the blocks and find the hole. Alexander's touches probably will be in the passing game.
Defensively, the Redskins will have to get some degree of pressure on Anderson. The Giants didn't sack him once. That means covering Edwards one on one with Shawn Springs in order to bring Chris Horton on the blitz.
Blitzing also can be an effective tool against the run. Jamal Lewis is one of those power backs who needs to build up a head of steam to be effective. If first contact comes in the backfield from a blitzing safety it becomes much easier to bring him down.
Bottom line, it's not rocket science here. Pound the rock, rattle the opposing QB, win the turnover battle and do the hip-hip-hooray thing in the locker room afterwards.
It says here that Portis goes for a buck-fifty but the defense will have a hard time getting at Anderson. There's no reason to think that they will get consistent pressure since they haven't done it all year. The Redskins will have to score three touchdowns in order to take this one and they will.
Redskins 27, Browns 21
Rich Tandler blogs about the Skins at RealRedskins.com and he is the author of the upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle. You can reach Rich by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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