COMMENTARY | October 20 could be a long day for the Cleveland Browns.
That's when the Browns will be at Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers. The Packers will provide Cleveland with their toughest opponent yet in 2013, which is unfortunate for a Browns team coming off of a demoralizing home loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 6. Cleveland lost to Detroit by a score of 31-17, just one week after the Lions fell at Lambeau to the Packers, 22-9.
It doesn't look like anyone outside of Northeast Ohio is giving Cleveland much of a chance to defeat the Packers, either. The Browns are a ten-point underdog to Green Bay in Las Vegas, which is the largest point spread of any NFL matchup in Week 7.
The Browns do have a quality win so far in 2013, though. Their home victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4 showed that the Browns do have the ability to defeat a playoff-caliber team, but that was during Brian Hoyer's stint as Cleveland's starting quarterback. With Hoyer done for the year, the Browns are forced to rely on Brandon Weeden once again. With the handicap that is Weeden, the Browns are going to have to step up in other areas this weekend to have any chance of pulling the upset at Lambeau.
These are three things the Browns must do if they hope to defeat the Packers in Week 7:
Keep Green Bay's Offense Off The Field
To have any chance of winning this game, the Browns' offense must sustain drives against Green Bay -- something that has been a problem for Cleveland when Weeden has been in command of the offense. In Weeden's three starts this season, the Browns are averaging less than 28 minutes time of possession, which has lead to a tired defense that is out of gas by the time the fourth quarter rolls around. If Cleveland goes three-and-out as often as they did against Detroit, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is going to have a field day against a worn-out Browns defense.
Limit The Packers To Field Goals
It's likely Green Bay's offense will have no problem moving the football against the Browns this weekend. Don't take that as a knock on Cleveland's defense, because it isn't. Racking up yardage is just what Green Bay does -- the Packers are averaging an NFC-best 450.2 yards per game this season. The Packers do have a little bit of a problem finishing drives, though, as kicker Mason Crosby has already had to attempt 14 field goals in just five games in 2013. If the Cleveland defense can bend without breaking under the weight of the Green Bay offensive onslaught, it will help the Browns' cause immensely in Week 7.
Empty The Playbook
Trick plays were critical in propelling the Browns to a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3. A long run on a fake punt and a touchdown pass on a fake field goal completely caught the Vikings off guard. And last week against the Lions, the Browns were successful on a gimmick play, when speedy wideout Travis Benjamin went for 45 yards on a reverse. It would be nice to see if the Browns can catch Green Bay napping a couple of times in Week 7.
Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo Contributor who has followed the Cleveland Browns for over 25 years.
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