The Browns travel to Jacksonville today to play the Jaguars, looking to bounce back from last week’s heart-breaking overtime loss to the Jets. It will be one of those crucial games that will determine whether, for the rest of the season, the Browns are playing for a playoff spot or playing out the string.
Nine games into the season, the Browns stand 3-6, three games behind AFC North Division leaders Baltimore and Pittsburgh. If they win today, they remain in the hunt. If they lose, they will effectively be eliminated from the race for the playoffs. With seven losses, the Browns probably would have to win out to even have a chance — and even then it is unlikely that a 9-7 record gets them into the playoffs.
The Browns go into this game banged up, with Josh Cribbs out on offense and Scott Fujita out on defense. In Jacksonville, the Browns will be facing a very unpredictable opponent. The Jaguars are 5-4, but have lost the four games by more than 20 points each. The Jags have a hot quarterback, a good running back, and a good corps of wide receivers; they will test the Browns’ very creative defense. The Jaguars’ defense has given up a lot of points and their secondary is particularly questionable — but the Browns don’t exactly have a bunch of stud receivers. Although Colt McCoy has played very well since he took over the starting job at quarterback, I don’t expect to see a pass-happy Browns offense today. I think we’ll still see lots of Peyton Hillis running the ball, mixed in with short passes to tight end Ben Watson and an occasional long ball.
The Browns need to figure out a way to win this game.