Steven JacksonWeek 8
Cleveland Browns vs St. Louis Rams
Edward Jones Dome
St. Louis, Missouri
1:00 PM

This week our 3-3 Browns take on the winless (0-7) St. Louis Rams. We find ourselves in the unfamiliar position of being road favorites (-3). I think this game is pivotal in the psyche of this team. It’s important for the team to go on the road and take care of business. For too long we have been losing this kind of game. If this team is going to turn things around and eliminate this culture of losing, then we have to win this game. But that could prove tougher than we think.

First off, we don’t play particularly well on the road. We’re 0-2 away from the comforts of the Dawg Pound so far this season, dropping a fairly embarrassing game in Oakland and playing a lackluster game in Foxborough against the Patriots machine. Secondly, Steven Jackson is back this week. We’re bringing out the 30th ranked rush defense in the NFL to take on one of the top RB talents in the league. Finally, the Rams are playing this game with a chip on their shoulder. They’re embarrassed, frustrated, and desperate for their first win. In fact, they are guaranteeing they will beat the Browns this week. Tight end Randy McMichael was quoted as saying this week,

”We have nothing else to say; we are going to win the football game.”

And for what it’s worth, Steven Jackson agrees:

”I back him. I guarantee it with him. That’s how we believe in this locker room. If a guy puts it on the line, we’ve got to go out and do it. It comes to a point where you’re 0-7, at some point something has to give. We’re going back to the basics; that’s what we’ve been preaching all week. We’ve got to play to the level we expected in Week 1. We can’t use injuries as an excuse anymore; we’ve beaten that one to death.”

Well, as the saying goes, these aren’t your father’s Browns. The Browns are bringing their explosive 4th ranked scoring offense into town and looking to move past the .500 mark in Week 8 for the first time since the team returned to Cleveland in 1999. St. Louis will need their defense to step up. Their defense has been fairly mediocre this season, ranking 18th in the NFL (24th against the rush, 10th against the pass). I would expect the Browns to again try using their running game to open up some passing options. The Browns need to be able to exploit the Rams’ problems stopping the rush.

On the other side of the ball, St. Louis has been killed by injuries, and as a result their offense has been just absolutely abysmal. They rank 30th overall (28th rushing, 24th passing). The good news for St. Louis, though, is that the Browns’ defense is dead last in the NFL. They will absolutely try to pound the ball down our throat with a heavy dose of Steven Jackson. It is going to be absolutely important that the Browns find some way to turn around this defense, and a good way to do that will be to load up the line of scrimmage against this Rams team which lacks the explosive threats in the passing game with the injury to Marc Bulger. I’d love to see the Browns make the Rams try to use the pass to beat them.

All in all, this is a game the Browns should win. We’re coming off a bye week with plenty of time to prepare for a team that we are better than. If the defense is pathetic again this week and we lose this game because of our defense, I would hope the pressure would be dialed up to 10 on Todd Grantham’s hot seat. Coming into the season we all thought the defense would be the stronger unit on this team, and they have been a total let down. That being said, though, I think the Browns take care of business this week and win this one 27-13.