2009-10 Cleveland Browns Predictions
by Justin Johnson - 8/16/2009
2008 Figures: Overall record: 4-12. ATS: 7-9. O/U: 5-9-2
2008 Rankings: Scoring offense: 14.5 (No. 30) Scoring Defense: 21.88 (No. 16)
2008 Inside the Numbers: The Browns finished 2008 No. 30 in points scored. They will enter 2009 with a 24-quarter drought of not scoring an offensive touchdown.
2009 Super Bowl Odds: +7000
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Offense: The Browns, riding high off a 10-6 SU, 12-4 ATS, year in 2007 were a complete flop in 2008. The offense did not get on track and the inability to score plagued Cleveland all season. As such, Romeo Crennel was fired and another Bill Belichick disciple was brought in as Eric Mangini takes the reigns after three seasons in New York.
The question that ate at his predecessor will be the first obstacle for Mangini to figure out. Who to start, Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson? Quinn has a weaker arm but is fiery. Anderson is solid but not spectacular, however he has success before. As the old adage goes, "if you have two quarterbacks you don't have one." And this may be the most telling situation in Cleveland.
No matter who is the eventual starter, on the receiving end of many of the passes will be the enigmatic Braylon Edwards. Edwards, who launched into stardom after a 16-touchdown season in 2007, fell flat in 08. With drops, lapses in focus, and frustration mounting, Edwards was only able to tally 55 catches and, even worse, just three touchdowns.
Edwards will quickly need to rediscover his '07 form as the Browns traded talented malcontent Kellen Winslow to Tampa and then lost Donte Stallworth for the season following a tragic DUI-manslaughter incident in the offseason.
Defense: Cleveland was the epitome of bend-but-don't-break in 2008. The Browns gave up 356.5 yards per game - which ranked 26th in the league - but managed to only allow 21.8 points per game, good for 16th in the league. The disparity was, in large part, due to the ballhawking defense that accounted for almost two turnovers per game and was third in the league in forcing opponents into errors.
New coordinator Rob Ryan will keep the team's 3-4 scheme in place and should have plenty of talented pieces in place for a successful 2009. Back are defensive tackle Shaun Rodgers and a very talented duo of linebackers in D'Qwell Jackson and Kamerion Wimbley. Adding former Jets backer Eric Barton to the mix will likely make the front seven more formidable.
Overall: Contrary to popular belief Cleveland was not an overvalued team from the start in 2008. The Browns began the season 5-2 ATS and were looking like a solid value for bettors. Then a late season collapse, one so bad that they did not score more than 10 points in any of their final six games, resulted in a poor 7-9 ATS record. New coach Eric Mangini should have more success in Cleveland than he did in New York, but it will not come without a transition on offense. An unsettled quarterback situation, aging running back, and young receivers make Cleveland a big question mark entering the season. This season the schedule is a little more favorable - in theory. Cleveland will play Kansas City, Detroit, and Oakland but all of those teams are just as much a guess as Cleveland at this point. Games inside the division will still be close battles and the 'under' may once again be a strong play (nine 'unders' in 2008). One trend for NFL handicappers to remember is that Cleveland is 1-8-1 in the last 10 season openers ATS.
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