Predictions: Packers vs. Browns
Total Packers takes a look at todays’s Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns game and offers their predictions.
Monty: The Cleveland Browns are bad, we know that. The Browns are last in the league in defense. They are second to last in offense. Their lone win was against another very bad team – the Buffalo Bills – in which they managed to score only six points. Since taking over for an ineffective Brady Quinn, Browns quarterback Derek Anderson has thrown two touchdowns and six interceptions. He’s completed 44 percent of his passes and has a quarterback rating of 41. Forget about the NFL, those are terrible statistics by Pop Warner standards.
I could literally go on for hours about how terrible the Cleveland Browns are, but I think you get the picture. They’re bad.
The Packers, on the other hand, are mediocre. Great passing game, no running game, opportunistic defense – you know the story. That will be more than enough to handle the Cleveland Browns. On paper, it looks like this could be a replay of the Packers’ victory over the Detroit Lions, last week. However, there are two reasons that won’t happen.
First, even though they say otherwise, the Packers have to have it in the back of their mind that a showdown with Brett Favre and the first-place Vikings looms next week. Any lack of focus on the Packers part will keep this game closer than it should be, and I see it happening.
Second, the Browns have looked somewhat competitive since handing the reins to Anderson. It’s inexplicable because of his performance, but the Browns took division-leading Cincinnati to overtime before losing 23-20 in week four. They beat Buffalo 6-3, before losing to Pittsburgh 27-14. Although this team is bad, they have been somewhat competitive in recent weeks. Any given Sunday…
Despite that, the better team will prevail in this one, although not by the margin they should.
Packers 24, Browns 17
Steffen: The obvious concern among Green Bay faithful is the Packers might be looking past the lowly Browns, instead eyeing the grudge match against the Vikings next week.
However, I have to believe the Packers will be ready to take care of business this weekend. It’s not like the team is riding a wave of effortless success, ripe for a letdown. With their critics actually getting more vocal after a 26-0 shutout of the Detroit Lions, the Packers will come into Cleveland with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove.
That’s bad news for Cleveland.
Starting with coach Eric Mangini’s bizarre cloak and dagger “guess the starting quarterback” catastrophe at the beginning of the season, it has been amateur hour in The Cleve. Their ineptitude on offense has only been matched by the jaw droppingly bad play of the defense. The Packers rate higher than across the board with the exception of the return game, where Browns return man Josh Cribbs has developed into a stud.
And with that, I present the one small glimmer of hope I can offer Browns fans. Cribbs is that good. He’s averaging 28.4 yards per kickoff return and 16.8 yards per punt return. He’s returned both a punt and a kick for touchdowns this season. If, somehow, their defense manages to contain Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Cribbs can keep the Browns in the game with his big-play ability.
Assuming the Packers don’t self-destruct and keep Cribbs from breaking big plays, the game will be easily won. Beating an opponent like the Browns will go a long way to restoring some of the confidence and swagger we saw during the preseason. This game will establish momentum and catapult the Packers into their rematch with Minnesota, which makes this game start to look like a crucial one for Green Bay. If we lose…
My prediction: A big game for Rodgers, a coming out of sorts for Greg Jennings and a turnover and sack-laden performance from a resurgent Packers defense led by rookie Clay Matthews.
Packers 33, Browns 13
Sarah: Look, there’s no way around it. The Cleveland Browns are awful, and it would be a MIRACLE if they win this game. The Browns quarterback situation remains in flux and is a big problem. Brady Quinn wasn’t getting the job done, Derek Anderson isn’t doing any better and Browns coach Eric Mangini shows no sign of making another change. The Browns running game, like Packers, is a non-factor and the team is giving up too many sacks.
As if that weren’t enough, Browns players have been dropping like flies from the flu this week, further diminishing the team’s chances at getting its second win of the season.
The real question is, how much will the Packers win by? And what Green Bay team will show up? Will it be the 3-1 preseason team that smoked everyone with a dominant defense and high-scoring offense, sparking talk of a Super Bowl appearance? Or will it be the team of late that commits too many penalties, can’t protect the quarterback and can’t run the ball?
There are still many problems Green Bay must fix if the Packers hope to be contenders this season. Fortunately, this is the perfect game to start doing that. It’s a no-brainer.
Packers 35, Browns 10
Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.