The Browns face a difficult task on Thursday


Note: On NNR today Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports & I previewed the Browns game in detail. The podcast is on

The game against the Bengals will be decided on the Browns offensive line of scrimadge. The running game has been totally missing since the injury to C Alex Mack. Now replacement Nick McDonald faces NT Geno Atkins, one of the best DT in the NFL.

Browns QB Brian Hoyer has to be having nightmares about Atkins and his running mate Domata Peko crashing down on him time after time. The protection of Hoyer will depend as much on the running game getting going as it does on the pass protection of the O line. Neither is likely to happen in the short week.

The Browns may make changes in the O line after the game. But the O line is what we saw against the Bucs for this game. So those 5 guys are going to have to play better to give the Browns any chance of winning. The issue with the O line has been the failure to move in unison like the zone blocking scheme requires. There has been way too much penetration mostly in the middle of the line to provide the backs room to run.

The Browns D will also face some issues. The Bengal WR corps is tall and athletic. While CB Joe Haden has been effective against WR A.J. Green, the other corners will struggle against tall receivers. The Bengals also showed some trick plays like the super spread bubble screen. The D will have to stay with their assignments to defend that and the jet sweep.

The Bengals will also show an improved running game with rookie RB Jeremy Hill. The Browns have struggled for years against the run and that has not changed this year. The D line will have to play better to keep the Bengal O line off the linebackers.

I was asked as a guest on a Chicago radio station if the Browns were contenders or pretenders. I said they were neither because even pretenders beat the teams they are supposed to. The Browns have not. Forget any talk of Browns being in the playoffs. That is not going to happen. If the Browns win Thursday, they stay in the hunt for respectability. But either way, there is little chance that they make the playoffs this year.

That is what I think. Tell us what you think by commenting here or tweeting me @NNRonDSN.

NOTE: News, Notes and Rumors podcast are BACK. Check out our thoughts on Fridays about the games coming up and Monday on the results of the weekend. My co-host is Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports. Podcasts can be heard on Thanks for your support.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at Follow him on twitter @NNRonDSN to get the schedule of Special News, Notes and Rumors broadcasts. You can hear the previous shows on

He also edits .

To keep up with the News, Notes & Rumors podcasts, follow me on twitter @NNRonDSN.


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