It's already Thursday, which means it's time to start looking at Sunday's game in Cleveland against the Browns. Will this be the week the Dolphins finally get a "W"? Maybe. So let's get into it.
3 Reasons Why the Dolphins Will Win:
1. Cleo Lemon gets his shot. Some might think that this is a bad thing, and it could be. But keep this in mind. Cleo is finally getting his shot to start. It'll be only his 2nd career start. In the first one, week 17 of 2006, he didn't play too bad (18/36, 210, 1 TD, 1 Int). And now he's in a contract year. He'll be a free agent following this season, meaning he's going to want to take advantage of every opportunity he's got. He also knows that if he struggles, John Beck isn't far behind him and could replace him at some point this season. Cleveland isn't a bad place to start, either. They are 31st against the pass, allowing 267 yards per game through the air. They've also given up a league high 15 touchdowns through the air, allowing opponents' QBs to have a rating of over 102. This game has the potential to be a coming out party for Lemon.
2. Ronnie will not be stopped. Luckily for Lemon, he'll have the ability to fall back on the talent of Ronnie Brown. Coming off another great performance, Brown and this offensive line will face the 30th ranked rush defense (157.4 ypg allowed) which allows 4.9 yards per carry (29th in the NFL). Brown, in one career game against Cleveland, ran 12 times for 56 yards back in 2005 in a 22-0 loss to the Browns. Of course, that game would be Miami's final loss of the season that year, as they went on to win their final 6 games that year. But that was a different Browns team. However, their rush defense actually has gotten worse since then, meaning 5 yards per carry is almost a certainty for Ronnie on Sunday. Let's hope for one more big day before the New England game to build his confidence and keep the momentum rolling.
3. Too much pride. At some point, you have to figure that this once proud defense will get fired up and the "pride factor" will kick in, meaning they will not allow this team to lose. You saw an example of this against the Bears last year. This year, we're all still waiting for this to happen. Perhaps this is the week, as the Browns aren't very good (though they aren't too bad) and this Dolphins team is desperate. You put Cleo's motivation for a big payday together with Ronnie's fire and this defense's pride, and you could have the ingrediants for a win...finally.
3 Reasons Why the Browns Will Win:
1. The Browns can pass the ball. Oh, it's true. This could create a real problem for Miami's secondary, though the return of Donovin Darius is certainly helpful. But this secondary is going to have to bring their "A" game. Derek Anderson is a very capable QB who is on pace for 4,000 yards and 35 touchdowns through the air. Braylon Edwards is on pace for over 1,500 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns while tight end Kellen "the soldier" Winslow is on pace for over 1,300 yards. That's a very formidable passing attack. and you may say that these numbers are inflated because of the one game against Cincinnati. But that's not entirely true. Just last week against New England, Anderson threw for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns while Edwards had 110 yards receiving. In reality, the Dolphins don't have a corner that can match up with Edwards, and that could be a major issue.
2. Cleo Lemon gets his shot. I said above this could also be a negative. And if I'm a Browns' fan, I'm thinking that Lemon starting is a positive for Cleveland. His play last week was a bit shaky, looking uncomfortable all game against the blitz. Often times, he threw the ball before he really had to because he saw a blitz coming. He also missed some open receivers because he wasn't setting his feet and made a few bad reads. This could be trouble for Miami against the Browns, as their head coach, Romeo Crennel, is a very good defensive game-planner. You know he's going to send blitzes from every direction on Sunday, attempting to confuse the inexperienced Lemon. If Cleveland's defense can actually carry out Romeo's gameplan, the Dolphins' offense will struggle.
3. The Browns can play at home. This year, they are 2-1 in Cleveland. Their one loss was on opening day with Charlie Frye at the helm, so don't put too much stock into that. Instead, look at the teams they beat. They defeated Cincy in that shootout and then, 2 weeks later, beat Baltimore easily, 27-13. If the Dolphins happen to overlook this Browns team, instead looking ahead at the Patriots game the following week, they are going to have a rude awakening on Sunday.