Game Scout: Lions at Browns

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Detroit Lions (3-2) at Cleveland Browns (3-2)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Tom McCarthy, Heath Evans, Lisa Byington
*Keys to the game: Browns coach Rob Chudzinski was impressed with QB Brandon Weeden's ability to enter last week's game on limited practice and overcome a rough start that had the home fans booing him voraciously to lead a victory over Buffalo. He's still on a short leash with the Browns' fans, and Weeden's lack of pocket presence and great athleticism could prove a serious issue against Detroit's interior rushers. The Lions do rank 20th against the pass and the presence of TE Jordan Cameron is continually opening more man coverage on the outside. The Lions' offense faces another 3-4 test after the offensive line was manhandled in Green Bay - and the Browns' front seven is nastier. A lot depends on the availability of WR Calvin Johnson. He sat out practice Wednesday and his absence last week allowed the Packers to focus on RB Reggie Bush with QB Matthew Stafford's other targets unable to gain any separation.
*Matchup to watch - Lions CB Chris Houston vs. Browns WR Josh Gordon: Houston is battling a hamstring issue - and perhaps his confidence after getting targeted six times last week and giving up four receptions for 127 yards. Granted, 83 of those came on one play in which S Louis Delmas failed to provide coverage over the top, but you can expect the Browns to test that duo multiple times with Gordon's deep speed.
*Player spotlight - Lions DE Ziggy Ansah: The No. 5 overall pick leads all NFL rookies with 3.5 sacks as he benefits from the attention paid to DTs Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Any pressure he can provide working against perennial Pro Bowl LT Joe Thomas would be a big bonus.
*Fast facts: Stafford's 14,331 passing yards is the most in NFL history through 50 career games. ... The Browns seek their first four-game winning streak since 2009.
The Browns are riding a three-game winning streak on the back of a vastly underrated defense that should be able to control the line of scrimmage. If QB Brandon Weeden can build on last week's performance and avoid turnovers and a plethora of sacks, the Browns move to 4-2.
*Our pick: Browns 19-16

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