Free NFL Pick: Cleveland at Jacksonville 11-21-2010

November 18, 2010


Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars

Sunday November 21st, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: Jacksonville -2


The Browns are turning heads all around the league. After beating the Saints and the Patriots, the Browns took the Jets into overtime. Despite being 3-6, Cleveland has earned respect by competing with and beating some of the best from around the league. Obviously  Vegas missed the memo, as they are underdogs to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jaguars are shockingly 5-4. A spectacular hail mary fluke has propelled them into a winning record. The Jaguars are still relevant in the AFC South conversation and a win against Cleveland coupled with a Colts loss would put them in a tie for first place. That being said, nobody wants a piece of the Browns right now.

Keys to the Game:

  • Peyton Hillis could dominate in this one. Hillis had 82 yards against the New York Jets last week. The Jaguars don’t come close to the Jets when it comes to run defense, so it is scary to think what Hillis might be able to accomplish. The Jaguars give up just under 115 yards a game. The Browns have an underrated offensive line and can dominate the Jags up front. Hillis should easily rush for his fourth 100 yard game of the season.
  • David Gerrard has to have a big game for the Jaguars to have success. While Maurice Jones-Drew is far and away the best offensive weapon the Jaguars have, Gerrard’s numbers directly impact the outcome of games. Teams load up the box against Jones-Drew, which makes them vulnerable against the pass. When Gerrard can take advantage, Jacksonville wins. Every single time Gerrard has thrown more picks than touchdowns, the Jaguars have lost. Here we are at week 11 and only Michael Vick has a higher quarterback rating. Who would have thought?
  • The quarterback change that put Colt McCoy under center has been inspiring for the Browns. McCoy might not have first round talent, but he has all the intangibles to be a great NFL quarterback. When the Browns have to lean on McCoy, they have fallen short, but the reason his attempts increase is because the ground game isn’t going exactly the way they want it to. McCoy has done well given the weapons that he has. He is only a rookie, but the Browns look like they may have found their guy moving forward.
  • Eight catches for 149 yards and the game winning touchdown is a heck of a game for anyone. Jaguars wide receiver Mike Thomas exploded onto the scene last week and dominated like he never has in his brief career. While the Texans secondary is suspect, if Thomas can continue to take advantage of being left in single coverage, he could make a living off the situations Jones-Drew presents.

Key Matchup:

Joe Thomas and the Browns O-line Vs the Aaron Kampmanless Jaguars D-Line

  • The Browns clearly have the upper hand in this mathchup, but if the Jaguars can hold their own, they have a shot at competing. The loss of Aaron Kampman is not doing them any favors. It will be up to Tyson Alualu to try to neutralize the line of scrimmage battle. Hillis is dangerous as is. If the Browns don’t meet any sort of resistance, the Jaguars are in for a long afternoon.

Wrap Up:

I picked the Jaguars to win last week, but there is just no getting away from the string of performances put together by the Browns. I’m still not sold on the Browns entirely, but the Jaguars have overachieved their way to a winning record. While this isn’t a huge game for either team, it will be very telling of where their franchises are.

A Cleveland loss would give merit to the inconsistency argument. A Jacksonville loss would kick them out of the playoff picture. I can’t believe the Browns are the underdog in this one. Easy money.

Free NFL Pick: Cleveland +2

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