Time: 1:00 pm, Sunday, November 23, 2008
Location: Cleveland Browns Stadium
Network, Announcers: CBS- Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon
Line: Browns by three-and-a-half
Team W/L Records: Cleveland is 4-6; the Texans are 3-7
Coaches: Romeo Crennel is 24-34 in his fourth season with the Browns; Gary Kubiak is 17-24 in his third season with the Texans.
Last Week for the Browns: Managed to hang on to a double-digit second-half deficit this time, surviving the Bills 29-27 on Monday night in Buffalo.
Last Week for the Texans: Dropped their fourth in a row, 33-27 to the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
All-Time Series: Browns lead, 3-1
Last Meeting: November 25, 2007- Jamal Lewis's 134 rushing yards, Kellen Winslow's 107 receiving yards on ten catches, and some flashy defense on Andre Johnson by Brandon McDonald helped lift the Browns to a solid 27-17 victory over the Texans.
Out or Questionable for Houston: Quarterback Matt Schaub (knee) is out.
Out or Questionable for Cleveland: Defensive end Shaun Smith (calf) is doubtful; tight end Steve Heiden (elbow), running back Jerome Harrison (hamstring), safety Sean Jones (ankle), defensive tackle Shaun Rogers (neck), fullback Lawrence Vickers (ankle), and tight end Kellen Winslow (shoulder) are questionable.
What to watch for the Texans: Houston's season thus far has been a tale of the giveaway. The Texans are dead last in the NFL in turnover margin at -13 and have committed at least three turnovers in six of their ten games, muffling the impact of an offense that ranks fifth in total yards. Meanwhile, the Browns are at +8 in turnover margin, third best in the league. With a top-notch offense statistically, and facing a bottom-of-the-barrel defense statistically, the Texans and their stable of weapons- Steve Slaton, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, Kevin Walter- should move the ball practically at will. But they've been prone to self-mutilation all year, and that trend abating or continuing is the wheel on which the fate of this game turns.
What to watch for the Browns: It's been said before, at varying length, but it bears repeating: Jerome Harrison is averaging 11.4 yards every time he touches the ball. The little man makes it happen whenever he's out there, he'll be facing a Houston defense that is 24th in the league against the run, and Jamal Lewis looks like he's running around with a piano strapped to his back. The most touches the Ghost has ever received in an NFL game are nine, twice last year. Depending on his health- and he is listed at questionable- it's time, long past time, to ratchet up that number.
Good Past Win over a Houston team: November 30, 1986- In a wind-whipped struggle marked by dropped passes, missed kicks, and a combined ten turnovers by both teams, the Browns moved to 9-4 and stayed in first place in the AFC Central by edging a game Houston team 13-10, on Mark Moseley's 33-yard field goal in overtime.
Bad Past Loss to a Houston team: October 12, 1975- The Oilers, rejuvenated under first-year head coach O.A. "Bum" Phillips, took advantage of five Cleveland turnovers and won for the first time ever in Cleveland in their fifth try, 40-10 over a dismal Browns team.
Next Week for Both Teams: The Browns host the Colts; Houston hosts the Jaguars on Monday night.