Take an above average NFL fan. This is someone who watches nearly all their teams games, might watch another game or two a week, follows their teams online, has a fantasy team or two, and all in all has a pretty good handle on the league as a whole. Then ask them if they could name 10 players on the Cleveland Browns. I would guess not. The Seahawks (and other teams like the Jaguars, Titans, Rams, Chiefs, Bills, etc.) might fall into this same category for the normal NFL fan but we won’t talk about that right now.
The point is not to many people know a lot about the Cleveland Browns. They never really seem to be a playoff contender, never get a ton of prime time games, don’t get a lot of media attention, and are just one of those under the radar teams that fill out the schedules of big teams. Heck, I might have trouble naming 10 players on the Browns roster. (Hillis, McCoy, Cribbs, Hardesty, Phil Taylor, Joe Thomas, Seneca Wallace, Dqwell Jackson, Joe Haden, Mohammed Massequoi… OK, I can do it and that was before I looked at the roster or depth chart).
So who as Seahawks fans should scare us on this team? Who should we be concerned about in the game this Sunday? Looking at a team like the Giants (who the Seahawks beat BTW. Just wanted to remind you of that and give you a warm fuzzy) they have plenty of players you need to be concerned about when you play them like Manning, Nicks, Bradshaw, Uminyora, Tuck, etc. These are players that are probably mentioned by name many times during the week of practice leading up to the game. Who would make that list from the Browns?
First off, lets look at some overall numbers and stats:
- Cleveland has managed two wins this year. They beat the Colts and Dolphins which isn’t saying a lot. Both those teams are terrible. They lost to the Bengals, Titans, and Raiders which are three decent teams.
- On offense the Browns average 310.4 yards per game which puts them at #24 in the league. They put up 228.8 passing yards per game (#18 in the league) and 81.6 rushing yards per game (30th in the league). By comparison the Seahawks average 288.8 YPG (#30), 205 passing yards (#26) and 83 rushing yards (#29). The Cleveland offense would never be mistaken for a high powered offense but numberwise they are a bit better than the Seahawks.
- On defense Cleveland is #7 overall in total yards giving up 321.8 per game. Their pass defense gives up 192 YPG (#4 in the league) and against the run they give up 129.8 yards (#27). Seattle is ranked #18 overall in YPG. So on total defense Cleveland is a bit better on paper.
- Points per game: On defense Cleveland is allowing 23.4 points and Seattle is allowing 24.4. On offense Cleveland is scoring 18.2 per game and Seattle is at 18.8. So for the most part overall scoring is a wash.
Stastically Cleveland as a whole has been a bit better than Seattle this year. Seattle has played a tougher schedule so far (Seattle’s opponents have won 17 games, Cleveland’s have won 11) so those numbers might be a bit deceiving.
Now let’s look at some individual players on the Brown’s roster that we should be concerned with:
Rushing game – Peyton Hillis: injured. Montario Hardesty: Who? OK, not really that bad but he his best game as a pro is 14 carries for 67 yards. And he has never scored a TD as a pro. As a team the Browns only average 3.3 yards per carry. There is really nobody on the Cleveland roster that scares me.
Receiving – This group is pretty devoid of stars. Josh Cribbs can be dangerous when he gets in the open field but he only has 14 catches this year. Their most productive receivers are Mohamed Massaquoi and Greg Little with 427 yards between them. The one player who could give the Seahawks a bit of trouble is tight end Benjamin Watson who has 19 catches for 208 yards. Seattle seems to struggle against opposing tight ends for some reason.
Passing – Would Colt McCoy scare anyone? He completes just less than 56% of his passes and averages 230 yards per game for an average of 5.5 yards per completion which is at the bottom of the league. McCoy only has 8 completions over 20 yards this year so I don’t think Seattle should be scared of too many explosive plays.
Defense – D’Qwell Jackson leads the team in tackles with 49 but that is what a good middle linebacker is supposed to do. Cleveland doesn’t have a dominant pass rusher but they do have 4 players with 2 or more sacks (Jackson, Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin, and Jabaal Sheard. The secondary only has 3 picks but Joe Haden does have 8 passes defended which is double what any Seahawk has. All in all Cleveland has a pretty solid defensive line, a good trio of linebackers, and a decent secondary but nobody that really is scary other than maybe Joe Haden. (edit: Just saw that Joe Haden probably won’t play this weekend. Good news for the Seahawks)
Of course we all know Cleveland won’t be a pushover. No team in the league is. They are a good defensive team that is weak on offense. All in all I don’t think there are any players Seattle really needs to be scared of but the Seahawks will need to go in and play like they have the last 6 quarters. They will need to make big plays on both sides of the ball and play like they are capable of. Seattle definitely has momentum going into this game and they will need to play with the fire we have seen in the last game and a half if they want to come out of Cleveland with a win.