Cleveland Browns vs. Green Bay Packers
The Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers meet on Saturday in Cleveland as they begin their 2011 seasons with a preseason match up. The Browns are -1 point favorite over the Packers with an over/under point total set at 36.5.
While the Cleveland Browns are still in a building process, they are moving along in the right direction and at the very least are a lot more defined as to what their identity is and who the players are that are part of their long term plans. Colt McCoy is the starter at QB while Seneca Wallace is the backup and Jarrett Brown from West Virginia looking to be the number three as is Troy Weatherhead. At Running Back Peyton Hillis will look to build on his breakout season a year ago and to do so he will need to hold onto the ball as he fumbles more than most teams and if he stumbles Monterio Hardesty, Brandon Jackson, and Owen Marecic will be waiting in the wings and more than likely pressing hard in the coming weeks. At Wide Receiver Mohamed Massaquoi can get open but sometimes has trouble holding onto the ball and Josh Cribbs still looks to escape the Special Teamer tag while rookie Greg Little is a gamer and Brian Robiskie is steady. Chris Mathews, Jordan Norwood, Juan Nunez, Demetrius Williams, Rod Windsor, Jonathan Haggerty, and L.J. Castile will all get a look as WR is a position of need for the Browns. Ben Watson is a proven vet at Tight End and Evan Moore will see the field as well. Pat Shurmur will rely heavily on his defense in a defensive division, the AFC North, where points should be at a premium all season long. Where the Browns will really need to step it up to improve is against the run and they addressed the defensive line with their first two picks in the draft taking Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard. T.J. Ward and Matt Roth were the leading tacklers a year ago and Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown were the leading pass defenders.
The Green Bay Packers will need to clear themselves from the cloud that all teams get, and deservedly so, when they win the Super Bowl. The Packers spent the off season celebrating but when this team takes the field, they are all business. Aaron Rodgers has emerged from Brett Favre’s shadow and could be a Hall of Famer as well some day and he’ll be backed up by Matt Flynn who has seen game action and Graham Harrell who is still trying to shed the “system QB” tag he had at Texas Tech. With Ryan Grant back at Running Back and Brandon Jackson gone, a lot of attention here whill be on last year’s late season and post season hero James Starks to see if he has what it takes to stay healthy and contribute over an entire NFL season, something he couldn’t do in college and after them Green Bay has little else as Alex Green and Brandon Saine are untested. Greg Jennings has taken over for Donald Driver as the number one with Driver still there and Jordy Nelson and James Jones also being big contributors while Randall Cobb from Kentucky is one of the more versatile and athletic players to come around in a long time and should fit well with this team. Jermichael Finley returns at Tight End after an injury shortened his year last season and it gives Rodgers just one more weapon to work with. What can we say about the Packers defense that hasn’t already been said. While it was Rodgers and the offense putting up numbers, it was Clay Mathews acting as a human tornado blowing up offensive game plans all the way to his thwarting of the potential game deciding drive in the Super Bowl and of course Charles Woodson is still one of the best corners in football.
With a lot of the positions and roster spots decided for the Packers they will more than likely be shaking off the rust while for Cleveland it will be a lot of guys looking to make the team and working hard. While we have two big traditional fan bases but a game that doesn’t mean much. We could see a good bit of scoring.