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Houston Texans

'08 Game Preview: Browns


As the Texans gear up for training camp, excitement for the 2008 season continues to build. Here is an in-depth look at each of the team's regular season opponents with some insights from SportsRadio 610's Marc Vandermeer.

Teams: Texans @ Cleveland Browns (Sunday, Nov. 23)

Game Preview: The Texans will head to Cleveland in Week 12 and try to redeem themselves from a 27-17 loss in 2007. In that game, the team was marred by costly turnovers and the defense allowed running back Jamal Lewis to record 134 rushing yards. Lewis, a ninth-year pro who notched 1,304 rushing yards last season, will be aided this year by arguably one the best left sides on an NFL offensive line, led Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas and guard Eric Steinbach.

{QUOTE}The Texans also will have to contend with the Browns' passing game, which helped them garner a 10-6 record last season. Quarterback Derek Anderson, who threw for 3,787 yards in 2007, will return under center and second-year pro Brady Quinn will be his backup. Tight end Kellen Winslow went through surgery during the offseason but finished with 82 receptions for 1,106 yards. Donté Stallworth will join Braylon Edwards at wideout. Edwards led all receivers with 1,289 receiving yards, and the Browns' offense averaged 351.3 yards a game, which ranked eighth in the NFL.

The Texans' defense will be attacked from all sides, but stuffing the run likey will be their first priority. Cornerback Dunta Robinson could be back in the lineup for this game, which would mean tougher coverage on Cleveland's receivers.

"This team is just one nightmare after another offensively," Vandermeer said. "Joe Thomas is an excellent left tackle for the Browns, so offensively it could be a hands-full kind of day for the Texans. But I think they are going to have their chances to match them with the Houston offense."

Without tough play from Houston's secondary, this game very well could turn into a shootout. The Browns lacked defensive pressure upfront last year, allowing 359.6 yards per game (third-worst in the league), managing just 28 sacks (tied for sixth-worst) and giving up 129.5 yards per game against the run (sixth-worst). Cleveland traded for defensive tackles Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams, who registered seven sacks in each of the past two seasons in Green Bay, to help them stop the run and get to the passer.

That being said, the Texans still should have success running the ball against the Browns, especially if Ahman Green can hit holes early and soften up the defense with his cut-back ability. That, of course, sets up the Texans' play-action pass game, which can be deadly.

"When you look at Cleveland, you have to wonder: Do they have the personnel to make a playoff push on defense?" Vandermeer said. "Last year, 10-6 is an outstanding record and we would love to have that here in Houston, but it wasn't enough to get the Browns into the playoffs. Is that defense going to enable them to take that next step and to maintain the excellence of a 10-6 record? I'm not so sure."

Key Matchups: The Texans' secondary containing receivers Braylon Edwards and Donte' Stallworth. Running back Ahman Green getting past defensive tackle Corey Williams.

Vandermeer's pick: "I'm going to go Cleveland win because you are on the road against a tough team."

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