WHEN THE RAMS HAVE THE BALL
Bradford won the 2008 Heisman Trophy ahead of Cleveland’s McCoy, who finished a close second in the balloting (Bradford received 1,726 voting points to McCoy’s 1,604). The St. Louis quarterback has posted a 100-plus rating three times in his career, and the Rams are 3-0 when he does so. Jackson has rushed for 289 yards in his past two games and had a rush touchdown in the teams’ last meeting back in 2007. Since 2006, Jackson averages 116.2 yards from scrimmage per game (9,064 yards, 78 games), the most in the NFL of players with a minimum of 50 games over that stretch. Since the start of 2010, wide receiver Brandon Lloyd ranks third in the NFL with 1,938 receiving yards, while fellow wideout Brandon Gibson aims for a fifth game in a row against the AFC with three or more catches. Rookie wide receiver Austin Pettis had 112 total yards (43 receiving, 43 kick returns, 26 punt returns) last week.
On defense, Cleveland linebacker D’Qwell Jackson posted his first interception since December of 2008 last week and leads the team with 73 tackles. Cornerback Joe Haden leads the Browns with 10 passes defensed and fourth-year tackle Ahtyba Rubin has 39 tackles and three sacks.
Statistically, St. Louis is in the bottom half in all major offensive categories, ranking 31st in scoring (12.5 ppg), 23rd in total yards (314.1 ypg), 26th in passing (202.8 ypg) and 18th in rushing yards (111.4 ypg). The Browns are 13th in scoring defense (21.2 ppg), sixth in total yards allowed (309.2 ypg), first against the pass (165.2 ypg) and 30th against the run (144.0 ypg).
WHEN THE BROWNS HAVE THE BALL
The Browns have won two of their past three games at home in November, and in four November starts, McCoy has completed 63-of-100 passes (63 percent) for 766 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions and an 88.2 passer rating. A seventh-round draft pick of the Rams in 2009, running back Ogbonnaya spent one season in St. Louis. Tight end Benjamin Watson needs seven catches to reach 100 with the Browns, while the injured Massaquoi averages 16.7 yards per catch against the NFC (21 receptions, 351 yards) for his career. Wide receiver Greg Little, a second-round pick in last April’s draft ranks second in the NFL among rookies with 31 receptions, trailing only Cincinnati’s A.J. Green (40). Wide receiver Joshua Cribbs aims for a third straight game with a touchdown reception and has a career-best three scoring grabs in 2011.
For the St. Louis defense, end Chris Long has four sacks in his past two games and aims for a third in a row with one. He also aims for a fifth contest in a row against AFC foes with a sack and has five sacks in his past four matchups against the AFC. Tackle Fred Robbins has a sack in two of his last four games with AFC foes, while end James Hall has four sacks in five games against the AFC and a sack in two of his last three overall tests. End Robert Quinn aims for third game in row with a sack and is tied for second among NFC rookies with three quarterback takedowns. Safety Darian Stewart aims for a third straight game with an interception or forced fumble, while middle linebacker James Laurinaitis has 61 tackles, a sack and an interception on the season.
By the numbers, Clevelands offense is 29th in scoring (14.9 ppg), 30th in total yards (289.0 ypg), 25th in passing (206.9 ypg) and 31st in rushing (82.1 ypg). On defense, the Rams are 29th in points allowed (26.4 ppg), 24th in total yards allowed (375.9 ypg), 12th against the pass (222.2 ypg) and dead last against the run (153.6 ypg).
KEYS TO THE GAME
St. Louis’ run defense is worst in the league through its nine games, but could at least hold on to respectability against the Browns’ something-less-than- front-line backs.
McCoy, who averaged 240 passing yards per game through the season’s first four weeks, has got to rediscover that connection with his young receivers or veteran tight end Watson to get Cleveland’s slumping offense on track.
Though the defensive numbers aren’t impressive, the Rams have shown a talent at getting after the quarterback, and that could be augmented this week by Cleveland’s injured backfield and struggles in the run game.
Prediction – Two teams that can’t score, and two QB’s that can’t stay on their feet do battle at the Lakefront. The Rams are bad, but right now the Browns are worse, when it comes to offense. Not only that, the Browns have little to offer at the RB spot, and the Rams and Steven Jackson will take advantage of that. Remember the Browns 6-3 thriller over the Seahawks a few weeks ago? This will be as bad as these two teams stink it up and set offense back a few more years. St.Louis 10 Cleveland 9
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