FanPost

On Paper: Lions vs. Browns

 

You can read this article and more like it at http://www.studyofsports.com/?cat=142

This week, the Lions face the Browns in what promises to be the Game of the Week…that everyone ignores and makes fun of.  In other words, when you reach the halftime report of the game that you’re watching, it’ll be the game that they just flash the score of rather than show you any of the pathetic highlights.  They may even throw in a clever line like, “Detroit leads Cleveland 2-0 in the 2009 Toilet Bowl”, or “Could it be any more depressing in Detroit?  They trail 7-0 at the half to Cleveland.”  Nothing beats the hilarious antics of Terry Bradshaw.  Anyways, now that I’ve dissuaded any non Lions/Browns fan to read on, let’s go! (warning: video contains old white guy rapping).

Lions Pass Offense (21st) vs. Browns Pass Defense (19th)

Opponent

Opponent’s

Passing YPG

Passing Yards vs. Browns

Opponent’s

Season QB Rating

QB Rating vs. Browns

Vikings

246.7

110

106.9

95.3

Broncos

216.7

263

86.9

83.5

Ravens

230.8

342

90.1

111.8

Bengals

211.9

230

88.1

73.1

Bills

160.6

152

70.4

52.1

Steelers

253.3

417

98.3

113.6

Packers

247.0

246

101.6

155.4

Bears

249.1

225

75.8

66.7

Ravens

230.8

155

90.1

98.1

The Browns pass defense is the definition of mediocre.  They’ve held about half of their opponents (5 of 9) under their season average for QB rating.  They’ve put up some pretty impressive numbers, like stymieing Jay Cutler to 225 yards and a poor 66.7 passer rating, but have also had some terrible games including a 417 yard disaster against the Steelers. 

The Browns defense is also quite mediocre when it comes to pressuring the opposing quarterback.  They have 18 sacks on the season which ranks them 19th in the league.  The Browns play the 3-4 defense, so a lot of their pressure is generated by linebackers.  Linebackers Kamerion Wimbley and David Bowens lead the team with five and 2.5 sacks respectively. 

When the Lions last faced a 3-4 defense (against the Packers), they gave up five sacks, 3.5 of which came from linebackers (for the record, Green Bay also has 18 sacks on the season). The Lions may struggle even more now that arguably their best offensive lineman, right guard Stephen Peterman, is very doubtful to play.  Last week, Matthew Stafford took a beating, getting pressured on 70% of passing plays.  Granted, Minnesota has a much better front seven than Cleveland, but I still fully expect Stafford to be on the run again this week.

Where the matchup leans in the Lions favor is the battle between receivers and secondary.  Cleveland boasts no real big names in their secondary.   Safety Brodney Pool is probably their most impressive player, as he’s tallied up three interceptions on the season and leads the team in passes defended with 8.  But overall, they are not too impressive of a unit.  Cleveland ranks 27th in opposing passer rating and dead last in interceptions with four.  Calvin Johnson and company have a good chance to be open, if Stafford has the time to throw.  In the end, I think both sides will make their plays.  Stafford will likely throw a pick or two, but he’ll also perform much like last week, somewhat effective.  Draw.

Lions Run Offense (21st) vs. Browns Run Defense (30th)

Opponent

Opponent’s

Rushing YPG

Rushing Yards vs. Browns*

Opponent’s Season Avg YPC

YPC vs. Browns*

Vikings

122.4

225

4.2

6.1

Broncos

112.1

186

4.2

5.3

Ravens

118.1

137

4.4

5.3

Bengals

122.3

134

4.0

5.0

Bills

107.7

105

4.1

3.4

Steelers

111.3

129

4.3

4.3

Packers

119.2

179

4.4

4.8

Bears

85.2

138

3.8

4.3

Ravens

118.1

134

4.4

3.7

*QB rushes omitted

Every team other than the Bills outperformed their season averages for rushing yards.  This is not a surprise, given that most teams find themselves with a comfortable lead over the Browns and run the ball late.  The additional YPC stat is more telling.  Still, in seven out of nine games, the Browns’ opponents met or surpassed their season average YPC. 

Obviously, this is good news for the Lions.  Though the Lions will be forced to go against their former teammate Shaun Rogers, other teams seem to have had no problem with him.  Every team has surpassed the century mark, even the 30th ranked rush offense of the Bears.  The Lions have been struggling to have a consistent running game, but are still averaging 103 yards per game.  Though the Peterman injury may hurt the Lions, they’ve actually had their most success running behind Backus anyways (<---awesome site).  I expect the Lions to outperform their average and Kevin Smith to reach the 100 yard mark for the first time since the Lions beat Washington.  Lions +2

Browns Pass Offense (32nd) vs. Lions Pass Defense (32nd)

Opponent

Opponent’s Passing YPG Allowed

Passing Yards Allowed vs. Browns

Opponent’s Season QB Rating Against

QB Rating Allowed vs. Browns

Vikings

234.1

205

90.3

74.1

Broncos

186.7

161

83.4

58.7

Ravens

208.9

115

80.0

32.7

Bengals

231.0

269

77.9

68.8

Bills

200.0

23

62.2

15.1

Steelers

208.1

122

77.2

51.0

Packers

189.2

99

76.2

36.4

Bears

195.3

74

87.4

7.1

Ravens

208.9

99

80.0

23.5

Brady Quinn games in italics (pulled in week 3 game vs. Ravens)

My dear lord.

This is about as ugly of a matchup that you can get.  Think Stevie Wonder versus Helen Keller in a game of charades.  Cleveland is last in points per game (8.7) and Detroit is last in points allowed (29.3).  Cleveland is ranked last in QB rating, passing yards per game, completion percentage and passing touchdowns.  Yet Detroit ranks last in every single one of those defensive stats (well, 31st in passing TDs allowed, thanks Tennessee). 

Quinn is starting his second consecutive game after Derek Anderson was promoted and demoted in the middle of the season.  Quinn has yet to put up a passer rating about 75 this year and has one TD to his five interceptions.  In Cleveland’s defense, they have little options at the receiver position.  This year, they traded away their two best options, Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards.  They’re now left with former Lion Mike Furrey and Josh Cribbs.  Cribbs is a great playmaker, but he’s much better utilized in special teams and in the running game.  More on him later.

I’ll be honest; I have no idea what is going to happen here.  The Browns have been sacked 23 times (22nd in the NFL), but they also have one of the best LTs protecting Quinn in Joe Thomas.  I have no faith in Detroit’s pass defense, especially considering how many injuries they’re suffering from in the secondary, but Cleveland put up 23 passing yards in a game!  They’ve only thrown for 200 passing yards twice this season!  Instead of giving one team an advantage, they both get two points taken away. Lions -2, Browns -2.  You should both be ashamed of yourselves.

Browns Run Offense (26th) vs. Lions Run Defense (19th)

Opponent

Opponent’s Rushing YPG Allowed

Rushing Yards Allowed vs. Browns*

Opponent’s Avg YPC Allowed

YPC Allowed vs. Browns*

Vikings

94.6

68

4.2

3.8

Broncos

105.6

50

3.8

2.8

Ravens

93.9

62

3.5

3.0

Bengals

83.4

144

3.9

4.6

Bills

173.0

169

5.1

4.2

Steelers

69.3

92

3.4

4.2

Packers

93.1

55

3.5

2.9

Bears

118.4

116

4.2

4.1

Ravens

93.9

85

3.5

3.5

*QB rushes omitted

Though they rank 26th, the Browns run offense may be better than advertised.  The Browns have faced five out of the six top run defenses in the league (Baltimore twice).  That means out of their nine games, six of them have been against top six run defenses in the league.  Jamal Lewis remains a pretty solid back, but he has struggled recently, only gaining 173 yards in his past four games.  Again, the stats may be a little misleading, as the Browns have often found themselves behind games early and have had to focus on the passing game to climb back into games (of course, this makes their passing statistics even worse). 

Josh Cribbs is also a big factor in Cleveland’s running game.  Cribbs is being used in Wildcat formations successfully as he’s clearly the most athletic player on the field for Cleveland.  This season, he has accounted for nearly 20% of the Browns’ running game and is averaging 6.6 a carry.  This season, the Lions have not faced the Wildcat (have they ever?), so it’ll be interesting to see how they adjust.  They may not have to, however, as Cribbs was injured on the last play of the game on Monday night.  UPDATE: Cribbs practiced on Thursday, so it’s quite likely that he will play. 

The Lions are fairly inconsistent when it comes to stopping the run.  Though they rank 19th in yards allowed per game, they’re giving up 4.7 a carry which ranks them 28th.  I don’t expect the Browns to run all over Detroit, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lewis break a lot of tackles and bust out a long run or two.  Still, I think Detroit has the advantage, especially if Cribbs is out.  With Cribbs: Draw; Without Cribbs: Lions +2.

Special Teams

Although Jason Hanson is struggling, I’m not too worried about it.  He is not shanking any kicks, so I expect his accuracy to come back to him.  Phil Dawson is also reliable.  He’s 100% on field goals this year, but has only attempted four.

The advantage here completely relies on Cribbs’ availability.  Cribbs burned the Lions in their preseason game this year.  He returned the opening kick for a TD (though it was called back) and later returned a punt to the house.  Though it was a preseason game, I fully expect that Cribbs has the potential to do the exact same thing.  He has returned three kickoffs for more than 40 yards (1 TD) and he has returned a league-high four punts for 20+ yards, one for a TD.  Cleveland ranks 1st in punt return average and 8th in kick returns.  As always, I have 0 confidence in Detroit’s kick coverage.  Detroit’s defensive special teams ranks 31st in kickoff return average and 22nd in punt returns.  Given how terrible these teams are, special teams may make the difference.  If Cribbs is in, look out. Browns +2.  If he’s out, Draw.

Overall

I don’t even know what to say.  This game is actually quite enthralling to me.  Not because it’s one of the few games left that Detroit has a chance of winning.  Not because there’s actual importance to this game, in that the loser has a very good chance at having the #1 draft pick.  No, my interest in the game is much more depressing than that.  Both these teams are awful right now.  There’s a part of me that actually thinks the world might end when the Browns’ pass offense goes against the Lions’ pass defense.  But I can’t wait to see what happens.  Much like The Beatles’ “A Day In the Life”, most people will turn away from this game on Sunday.  But I just have to look.  Having read the book?

Anyways, if Cribbs is in, that leaves the Lions with 0 and the Browns with 0.  A 0-0 draw.  If Cribbs is out, however, the Lions have 2 and the Browns have -2.  I think this is going to be a low-scoring game, so a big special teams play from Cribbs could make all the difference.  Obviously, this is a must win for Detroit if they ever want to win a football game again.  Of course, Cleveland fans are saying the exact same thing.  With no confidence at all, I’m picking the Lions to win regardless of Cribbs’ availability.  Without Cribbs, 13-7 Lions;  With Cribbs 13-10 Lions.



This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Pride Of Detroit

You must be a member of Pride Of Detroit to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Pride Of Detroit. You should read them.

Join Pride Of Detroit

You must be a member of Pride Of Detroit to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Pride Of Detroit. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker