Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Browns vs. Texans – Week 9

The Cleveland Browns travel to Houston on Sunday to take on the Texans.

They say everything is bigger in Texas – does that mean we may actually see the offense show up?

The Opposition

Houston record: 5-3 (1st in the AFC South)
Offensive rank: 7th overall/11th passing/4th rushing
Defensive rank: 3rd overall/5th passing/6th rushing
All-time record: Series tied 3-3; the Browns are 1-2 in Houston
Last meeting: Texans won 16-6 in 2008
The line: Browns (+11)

What to Watch For

Can Cleveland actually get anything done on offense?

The Browns have struggled all year to score points; they have gone seven consecutive games without a touchdown in the first and third quarters and that has to end for them to have any hope of pulling off the upset.

Things won’t be easy this week as they face a Texans team that has allowed fewer than 200 yards in consecutive weeks and ranks third in the NFL in defense.

But just how some will try to downgrade the Browns defensive accomplishments because of the quality of the opposition, the Texans have gotten fat against Indianapolis, Miami, Tennessee and Jacksonville, which account for four of their five wins.

The Browns need to get some kind of passing game going to the wide receivers. Teams have been able to cover the outside receivers with no problem this year, meaning the Browns have seen several seven- and eight-men in the box which have worked to choke the running game.

If Greg Little, Joshua Cribbs, etc., can get something going the offense may not have to consist solely of dump offs to the tight ends and backs.

Of course with starting running back Peyton Hillis and backup Montario Hardesty both out for Sunday’s game, the Browns will be forced to rely on Chris Ogbonnaya, who was signed off Houston’s practice squad on Oct. 18, and Thomas Clayton, who signed Tuesday following a workout at the team’s practice facility.

So it looks like the Texans won’t have to worry about the passing game or the running game from the Browns on Sunday.

That sounds like a recipe for a long day.

The Quintessential Browns vs. Texans Game


The Prediction

It’s hard to see the Browns being able to pull this out on Sunday.

The offense is a mess, the veteran players had to hold an intervention this week with Hillis, the franchise hasn’t had a winning record in the month of November since Marty Schottenheimer was coach, they are still cleaning up after former coach Eric Mangini, they can’t pass or run the ball, they can’t stop the run on defense.

Do we need to go on?

The Browns do have two things working in their favor: wide receiver Andre Johnson will miss his fifth consecutive game and quarterback Matt Schaub may be do to have one of those games where me makes silly mistakes.

Will that be enough to allow the Browns to hit the halfway mark of the season a .500 record?

Probably not. We’ll take the Texans to cover.

Record picking the Browns (using the point spread) this year: 4-2-1.

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