Time: 1:00 pm, Sunday, October 25, 2009
Location: Cleveland Browns Stadium
Network, Announcers: FOX- Ron Pitts and John Lynch.
Line: Green Bay by 9.
Team W/L Records: Cleveland is 1-5; Green Bay is 3-2.
Coaches: Eric Mangini is 24-30 overall, 1-5 with the Browns; Mike McCarthy is 30-23 in his fourth season with the Packers.
Last Week for the Browns: Lost to the Steelers for the twelfth time in a row, 27-14. There was one bright light in the defeat, the same that has shone for the last several years in the series. Like a lone partisan operating deep in the rear of an occupying army Josh Cribbs continued his one-man terror campaign against Pittsburgh, returning a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. Half of Cribbs's career kick-return touchdowns have come against the Steelers.
Last Week for the Packers: Shut out the Lions, 26-0. Aaron Rodgers riddled Detroit's defense for 358 yards and two scores while the Packer defense held the Lions to 149 total yards. It was Green Bay's first shutout victory since the 2007 season, when the Packers went 13-3 and reached the NFC Championship Game.
All-Time Series: Packers lead, 9-7.
Last Meeting- September 18, 2005: Steve Heiden and rookie Braylon Edwards each scored on career-long pass plays as the Browns surprised the Packers in Lambeau Field, 26-24. Edwards's score, an 80-yard catch and run on a slant pattern, gave Cleveland a 19-7 third-quarter lead. Heiden's 62-yard play put the game away after Green Bay had pulled to within 19-17 in the fourth quarter. Trent Dilfer out-dueled Brett Favre in the win, throwing for 336 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Favre threw for 342 yards and three scores but was intercepted twice.
Out or Questionable for Green Bay: DE Jarius Wynn (hamstring), T Mark Tauscher (knee), RB Korey Hall (calf), WR Jordy Nelson (knee), RB DeShawn Wynn (knee) are out; T Chad Clifton (ankle), C Jason Spitz (back) are doubtful, and LB Brandon Chillar (neck) is questionable.
Out or Questionable for Cleveland: K Phil Dawson (right calf) and TE Steve Heiden (knee) are doubtful; DE Corey Williams (illness), CB Eric Wright (shoulder), DE Kenyon Coleman (groin), WR Joshua Cribbs (knee), G Rex Hadnot (knee) and TE Robert Royal (illness) are questionable.
What to watch for the Packers: Grace under fire- Aaron Rodgers has it in spades. Despite sustaining a league-high 25 sacks thanks to an injury-riddled, patchwork offensive line, Rodgers has been brilliant this season, completing 64.6 percent of his passes for eight touchdowns against only two interceptions with a sparkling QB rating of 104.1. Rodgers's finest hour came in a loss three weeks ago in Minnesota, when he threw for 384 yards and two touchdowns while being hammered mercilessly by Jared Allen and the rest of the Vikings pass rush. Even the Monday Night broadcasting crew took a little time from their game-long genuflection toward Brett Favre to toss some bouquets Aaron's way.
The Browns, of course, aren't the Vikings defensively. Cleveland is 23rd in the NFL against the pass and has amassed a meager twelve sacks in six games. Last week the Browns were torched for 417 passing yards by Ben Roethlisberger, who was trapped just three times in 35 attempts despite being one of the most sack-prone quarterbacks in the league himself.
So even with an offensive line still missing its key parts, Aaron Rodgers faces the prospect of a very fruitful afternoon on the Lakefront. The only thing that could prevent him from putting up big numbers is the Browns' run defense, which is even worse than their pass defense, ranking 30th in the league. Just to be on the safe side, if you've got any Packers on your fantasy roster, start them all.
What to watch for the Browns: How much lower can Derek Anderson go? The Moose was brought out of the bullpen in the second half of the Baltimore loss to give a shot of rocket-armed adrenalin to an offense that had produced one touchdown drive in two-and-a-half games under the mincing direction of Brady Quinn, AKA Captain Checkdown.
Mission Accomplished, said President Bush. In the two-and-a-half games since relieving Quinn and replacing him as the starter, Derek Anderson's howitzer of an arm has completed 44-of-108 passes (a cool 44.4 percent) for 506 yards (4.7 per attempt; a regular Daryl Lamonica is our DA), two touchdowns, six interceptions and three touchdown drives. So in point of fact, he has increased the output of the offense. Then again, Nero was a better emperor than Caligula, but that doesn't mean he was great.
Question is: how long is Derek Anderson's leash? If he continues to complete fewer than 50 percent of his passes, if he continues to throw interceptions, if the offense continues to sputter and if the team continues to lose, is there any chance we'll see Brady Quinn back on the field? I'm not saying Quinn is the answer, not in the slightest. But we know DA is not.
Good Past Win over the Packers- October 19, 1980: The Browns blew a 13-0 halftime lead and fell behind before being saved by a vintage bit of Kardiac Kids magic. Chief wizard was Brian Sipe, who was playing on a bum knee and beaten up all afternoon by the Ezra Johnson-led Green Bay pass rush. After the Packers took a 21-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter on a Lynn Dickey-to-James Lofton touchdown pass, Sipe went to work. First he directed an eye-blink two-play, 70-yard drive that he concluded with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ozzie Newsome. Moments later, with 25 seconds left and facing 3rd-and-20 on the Green Bay 46, he caught the Packers in a blitz and lofted a jump ball for Dave Logan, who was isolated on rookie cornerback Mark Lee. The 6'4" Logan out-jumped the 5'11" Lee for the football and outran him to the end zone to give Cleveland a 26-21 victory.
Bad Past Loss to the Packers- October 19, 1986: The 4-2 Browns played flat and listless against the winless Packers, and it cost them. After taking a 14-3 halftime lead, Cleveland's offense went to sleep while the defense gave up two second-half touchdowns, including Randy Wright's 47-yard strike to Phillip Epps for the game-winning score. The embarrassing 17-14 loss came with an added price: Earnest Byner injured his ankle during the game and was lost for the remainder of the season. Cleveland didn't crack, though: they went on to win eight of their final nine regular-season games to finish 12-4. Green Bay finished 4-12.
Next Week for Both Teams: Green Bay hosts Minnesota; the Browns head to Chicago to take on the Bears.
Trivia: The Browns are 1-9 in their last ten home games and are currently working on a seven-game losing streak in Cleveland. Their last win at CBS was last season's Monday-Night thrashing of the Giants.