coleryan Posts:13439 Followers:19
On 10/07/2013 04:18 PM in NFL

Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns: Preview and Pick

Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns: Preview and Pick

The Detroit Lions are off an ugly loss to the Green Bay Packers, but the big news for this team and this game is injuries. All Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson did not play in this game and it was very evident that it would be a big problem for this Lions offense. The Cleveland Browns come into this game well rested after playing on a Thursday but they also are dealing with injury concerns, but the Browns have concerns at quarterback.

Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns Odds

The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the Detroit Lions listed as three point favorites. The Browns are winning football games, but they still don’t have many believers as the betting public is all over the Lions. The early wagers coming in reveal that over 70 percent of the public is on the Lions. Despite this money coming in, the line has dropped and can be found at (-2.5) at several fo the top rated online sportsbooks.

The Lions are not the same team without Johnson. How big was the loss of Calvin Johnson in Week 5? - Matthew Stafford was sacked or put under duress on 22% of his dropbacks. Stafford was pressured on a league-low 12% of his dropbacks entering the week. - Stafford was 10-of-21 for 93 yards when targeting wide receivers Sunday. Stafford hadn't thrown for fewer than 100 yards to wide receivers since Week 13 of the 2009 season, a game Stafford couldn't finish due to injury. - The Lions dropped five passes, tying an NFL single-game high this season. Johnson had one drop on a team-high 39 targets this season. It is not clear if he will be in the lineup this weekend.

The Browns will use Brandon Weeden who completed 77.8% of his passes when targeting Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. When targeting his other receivers, Weeden completed 40% of his passes Thursday. This will set up for a good game this weekend.

The latest NFL football betting trends show that both of these teams have some negative trends for this meeting. Detroit is 3-9-1 straight up in its last 13 games and that includes a 1-4-1 record in the last six road games. Cleveland is 8-17 straight up in its last 25 games, but they are 4-2 straight up in the last six games at home. The total has gone under in 12 of Cleveland's last 16 games at home and under in 4 of Cleveland's last 6 games overall.

Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns Pick

With plenty of time to go before kickoff of this week, I will wait to announce my pick when we get closer to game day. Check back the day of the event for my pick on this great game.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 10-5-0
coleryan Posts:13439 Followers:19
10/08/2013 01:55 PM

The Lions played without wide receiver Calvin Johnson on Sunday and the play of their offense in a 22-9 loss to the Packers was a big reminder of how much Johnson means to the team.

After the contest, Johnson said he felt that he was “close” to playing after an early workout at Lambeau Field on Sunday, but the decision was ultimately made to rest his aching knee this week in hopes of getting back to full speed as quickly as possible. Will that be in time for next weekend’s date with the Browns?

“Should be. We’ll see,” Johnson said, via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com.

Coach Jim Schwartz made the argument after the game that Johnson’s absence had no impact on the Lions offense because he wasn’t one of the players in uniform and because they had a game plan drawn up for use without Johnson in the lineup. We’re quite familiar with coach speak in these parts and that’s a gold medal contender in the category because there isn’t a soul alive who watched the Lions at all on Sunday and said to themselves that things would have been exactly the same with Johnson on the field.

And it would affect them again next week if Johnson’s prediction about his return proves to be incorrect, regardless of how much you plan around his absence.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 10-5-0
coleryan Posts:13439 Followers:19
10/08/2013 02:06 PM

Brandon Weeden's teammates have a message for him as he steps back into the full-time starting job: "Just trust us.''

It started with Josh Gordon's pep talk during Thursday night's 37-24 victory over the Bills and continued in the locker room Monday on the first day of Life After Brian Hoyer, who's out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

After Weeden overthrew two receivers on his first two attempts and then went four-and-out on his next drive to a chorus of boos from Browns fans, Gordon pulled him aside and set him straight.

"We all talked to him — ‘Just relax, settle down, try to get us the ball out quickly as possible, let us try to make a play, quit thinking as much and just let it go,'' Gordon said. "I said, 'think a little less, just react, go out there and have fun with it -- just trust us. He did exactly that and we went out there and made the plays.''

Left tackle Joe Thomas, who's witnessed Weeden get sacked 16 times in his three starts, echoed Gordon's sentiments about getting the ball quickly to his skill players.

“It’s just a matter of trusting your receivers and trusting your arm and throwing it based on what you see coverage-wise," Thomas said. "That’s how it is throughout the NFL. You see some guys that try to scramble and make plays with their feet and extend plays and take sacks. That’s just in their make-up.

"For Brandon, the best thing he can do is read the coverage, be confident. He’s a smart guy. He studies hard. We've got great receivers, so throw it to the guy you think is going to be open and just trust it.''

Players such as tight end Jordan Cameron and backup quarterback Jason Campbell, who was inactive for the game, also got in Weeden's ear during the game.

"I think a lot of us were,'' said Cameron. "We let him know we have confidence in him and we know he can get it done.''

Now that Hoyer is out, Weeden's teammates -- and coaches -- want him to know they expect him to keep the train rolling. The Browns have won three straight heading into Sunday's visit from the 3-2 Lions, and are tied for first in the AFC North with the Ravens and Bengals. It's the latest into the season the Browns have been in first since they were tied with the Steelers at 3-2 in 1995.

"Nothing's changed,'' said Cameron. "We've still got a goal of being one of the better teams and trying to win the division and we're going to strive for that. We have a great level of confidence. I know I do. I know we believe in him and the receivers do.

"This game, he showed us a lot. He came in without really preparing at all to be the quarterback and made big plays in big moments in the game.''

Added Thomas: “Everybody is very comfortable and confident that Brandon is more than capable and he’s going to do a great job. He’s got a whole season of starting under his belt plus the first two games of this year and all of training camp so there’s plenty of confidence and a high level of comfort among the guys on offense.”

Gordon, who caught a 37-yard TD pass from Weeden against the Bills, doesn't believe that the momentum will follow Hoyer out the door.

"We're definitely heartbroken for him,'' said Gordon. "It’s rough for him, because he was really fighting and battling. But I think we’re definitely going to maintain and try to stay on course with Brandon. I don’t think we lost a step at all. We're we’re just going to persevere through it and push on.''

He asserted that Weeden, 5-12 as a starter, has the gun to power Norv Turner's downfield scheme.

"He can definitely bring it,'' Gordon said. "He's got an arm on him and we're guys that can stretch the field and go downfield in this offense. Norv's going to call it up and we’ve got to make the plays as wide receivers and running backs as well. The defense is one of the best in the NFL right now and I haven’t even really seen a defense hardly better than that, except for a few teams.''

He added that it's a misconception that Hoyer was the reason for his fast start -- 18 catches, 303 yards and two TDs in three games.

"I think it’s really just the offense that’s making wide receivers just look phenomenal out there," he said. "You can go out there and catch the ball and you just feel like there’s more to your game. Just the fact there’s more routes to run.''

It was Weeden who rifled five TD passes to Gordon last year -- and now six of his seven overall. Many have been of the "go deep'' and ask questions later variety.

"We tend to do that a lot and it works out,'' said Gordon. "Sometimes it’s not going to look very pretty. It looks like it's almost lucky at some points. (But) that’s what’s involved in a lot of the games -- a lot of luck and a lot of just trust and ability. I’ve told him that, just throw it up there, let me and Greg (Little) go out there and make plays, and (we) made big plays this past Thursday.''

Of course, all of the skill players will have to get reacquainted with Weeden's fastball.

"Brandon definitely has that baseball arm on him," said Gordon. "He can throw it harder than probably anybody I’ve caught the ball with, probably next to (Robert Griffin III) in practice, and they’re about the same.

"You definitely have to watch it in from his hand. You've got to see it coming and if anything get some new gloves.''

Still, Gordon, said, they're all pros and "you've just got to catch it, period. We've caught them before, but the two weeks he was out, we didn't see it, so now he's back in there and you've got to get used it to it.''

Cameron agreed.

"The ball comes, you catch the ball,'' he said. "I don't think there's much difference in velocity. The ball's in the air, go make a play. We've been doing this for a long time.''

Coach Rob Chudzinski acknowledged that Weeden's 16 sacks are a concern, with Lions tackle Ndamukong Suh visiting on Sunday.

"We've been taking steps in improving in that area,'' said Chudzinski. "I think with a week of work, Brandon will be more comfortable and have a little less of the rust. Hopefully, all of those things will factor in. This certainly is a tough team that we’re playing and a team with a great defensive front and great pass rush.”

So why is Chudzinski confident Weeden will keep the streak alive?

“Well, because we have no other choice,'' he said. "That’s what we’re going to do. Everybody that plays, regardless of your position, we expect to do well. There’s no difference in my expectations for Brandon.”

Weeden will be back at home, where the fans gave him the business before he rallied the Browns to the 37-24 victory.

"I don’t think it rattled him at all,'' said Gordon. "I think it’s hard for anybody to hear that, because you’re out there trying to do your job, and you think the fans will support you. But mentally he's mature enough to handle that and he went out there and won that game. He turned those boos into cheers. We're proud of him and I hope the fans are too.''

  • Last 7 Days Record: 10-5-0
coleryan Posts:13439 Followers:19
10/09/2013 11:06 PM

It's hardly a surprise that the Detroit Lions' passing game struggled mightily Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, since they didn't have wide receiver extraordinaire Calvin Johnson in the mix due to a knee injury. All things considered, QB Matthew Stafford did all right, completing 25 of 40 passes (62.6 percent) for 262 yards and zero interceptions to go with a late touchdown. On the other hand, he could have done more had his pass-catchers not failed to live up to that moniker by dropping five passes.

This season, the main stone-handed culprits have been his tight ends. Brandon Pettigrew has dropped two of the 23 passes target for him. That 8.7 percent drop rate is third worst amongst qualified tight ends. Meanwhile, Tony Scheffler has dropped three of his 12 targets, giving him an even worse drop rate of 25 percent. Undrafted free agent Joseph Fauria hasn't dropped a pass this season and has managed to secure two touchdowns on his four receptions, but he wasn't even targeted Sunday, and his long-term upside is debatable.

The future of Pettigrew and Scheffler with the Lions is entirely unclear, because both of them will be free agents at season's end. The fact that Scheffler sports the worst TE drop rate (7.9 percent) and Pettigrew the third worst rate (7.1 percent) over the past three years may convince the Lions that they need to revamp their TE corps during the offseason.

There are a few sure-handed tight ends who will free agents this offseason, including Dennis Pitta, who has the third-best TE drop rate (2.1 percent) over the past three years, and Dustin Keller and Scott Chandler who are tied for 10th (3.4 percent), though Pitta and Keller will be coming off serious injuries. Fred Davis is in the middle of the pack with a 4.0 percent drop rate and carries the risk of a long suspension, but they may like his upside.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 10-5-0
coleryan Posts:13439 Followers:19
10/09/2013 11:07 PM

The Browns have no plans to trade receiver Josh Gordon, coach Rob Chudzinski said Wednesday.

Chudzinski addressed a report from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that the San Francisco 49ers had talked with the Browns about acquiring Gordon.

"I will say we're not shopping Josh and have no plans to trade Josh," Chudzinski said.

This week marked the second time reports circulated about Gordon being on the market.

The first came just before the Browns played the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3, Gordon's first game back from a two-game suspension.

At that time, Gordon said he wanted to stay with the Browns. Presumably, that remains true, though Gordon was not in the locker room during the portion open to the media.

In three games, Gordon has 18 catches for 303 yards and two touchdowns. He is the Browns' best playmaker, with all seven of the touchdown receptions in his career 20 yards or longer.

"Within here, any kind of distraction like that has been a non-issue," quarterback Brandon Weeden said. "Those things are out of our control as players. I'm sure he's been asked the question and he's worried about playing this week."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 10-5-0
coleryan Posts:13439 Followers:19
10/10/2013 01:50 PM

Calvin Johnson made his return to Detroit Lions practice on Thursday. Johnson has been dealing with swelling in his knee.

The Lions' official website reported that Johnson took part in the portion of practice open to the media, going through all individual drills.

A return to practice is a very good sign for Megatron, though the playmaker could be headed toward another game-time decision for Sunday's matchup against the Cleveland Browns. That was the case last week as well, when Johnson was ruled out for Detroit's loss to the Green Bay Packers.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 10-5-0
coleryan Posts:13439 Followers:19
10/11/2013 11:46 AM

The Cleveland Browns are expected to look to quarterback Brandon Weeden to lead them the rest of the way after Brian Hoyer's season-ending injury. The Detroit Lions are hoping they don't have the difficult task of trying to replace All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson for a second straight week.

The Browns will try to remain in first place in the AFC North by earning a fourth straight win for the first time in four seasons Sunday against the visiting Lions.

Cleveland had a fine story going with Ohio native and Browns fan Hoyer leading the team to a pair of victories after an 0-2 start under Weeden. That ended when the fifth-year journeyman tore a knee ligament while running for a first down in the opening quarter against Buffalo last Thursday night.

Weeden came in to lead Cleveland (3-2) to a 37-24 victory and helped it grab a share of first place for the first time since Week 9 in 1995. The franchise left for Baltimore after that season and the NFL wouldn't return to Cleveland until 1999.

"It's good, but we're not overjoyed," safety T.J. Ward said. "We're not celebrating and that's what I like about us. We're staying grounded and we're focused on the next win and the next team."

Weeden will try to lead the Browns to their first four-game win streak since Dec. 10, 2009-Jan. 3, 2010. The team's first-round draft pick in 2012 has played in 18 games but appeared to have lost his starting job after spraining his right thumb in a 14-6 loss to Baltimore on Sept. 15.

"I think that he has a sense of confidence of what he's been able to do. We'll get him back out there for another week of practice, and I think that will help him get better and get ready to play even more so," coach Rod Chudzinski said.

Weeden is banking on Josh Gordon to help him over the next few weeks. The second-year receiver has 18 catches for 303 yards and two touchdowns during the win streak, and Chudzinski said the franchise has no plans to trade him.

The Lions' Matthew Stafford would love to see one of his top targets on the field this week. Johnson was forced to sit out last Sunday's 22-9 loss to Green Bay because of an injured right knee, and his status is unclear for this week.

Detroit (3-2) failed to score 21 or more points for the first time this season last week, and Reggie Bush rushed for 44 yards after gaining a season-high 139 in a 40-32 win over Chicago on Sept. 29.

Stafford was also sacked a career high-tying five times.

"We have to have guys step up," he said. "I have to play better. As an offense, we know we have to play better."

Detroit receiver Nate Burleson is expected to miss a third straight game because of a broken left arm that was suffered in a car accident.

"Both of those, Calvin and Nate, are great players and Calvin might be one of the greatest, if not the greatest of all-time," said receiver Kris Durham, who scored Detroit's lone touchdown against Green Bay. "We just have to figure out how to make some plays for Matt because he's standing back there with a lot of pressure in his face."

The Lions could face more pressure, as the Browns are tied for third in the league with 18 sacks and are fourth with 301.8 yards allowed per game.

"We've got to right our ship up front, which we will. We've got to figure out how to run against this good Cleveland defense and we need to keep Matt standing up because they're good at sacks, too," guard Rob Sims said.

Stafford managed to stay upright enough in the previous matchup with Cleveland to lead Detroit to a thrilling win. He connected with Brandon Pettigrew on a 1-yard touchdown as time expired in a 38-37 victory Nov. 22, 2009.

The Lions are making their first trip to Cleveland since a 13-10 victory Oct. 23, 2005. Detroit has won 17 of 22 all-time meetings, including the playoffs.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 10-5-0
coleryan Posts:13439 Followers:19
10/12/2013 10:54 AM

Lions running back Theo Riddick and tight end Tony Scheffler are both out with concussions and wide receiver Calvin Johnson (knee) is questionable after practicing in a limited fashion this week.

Browns linebackers Quentin Groves (ankle) and LB Jabaal Sheard (knee) are both questionable.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 10-5-0