Thursday, September 3, 2015

What we're watching: Browns-Eagles

Our weekly look at what we'll be watching in the Eagles game:

What we're watching: Browns-Eagles

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Our weekly look at what we'll be watching in the Eagles game:

1. Protect the ball: The Browns haven’t done a lot of things well this season, but forcing turnovers has been one of them. Their 26 takeaways are the second most in the league. Thirteen of those 26 have come in their four wins, including three — all Eli Manning interceptions — in their Oct. 13 upset of the Giants. After turning the ball over seven times against the Bengals and Ravens, Donovan McNabb hasn’t had any in the Arizona and Giant wins.

2. Neutralizing Cribbs: The Eagles can’t afford to let Josh Cribbs become a factor tonight. Listed as a wide receiver, the former Kent State quarterback is a multidimensional weapon. He’s one of the league’s most dangerous return men and has been lining up more and more as the QB in the Browns’ “Wildcat’’ formation. He ran the ball six times and threw it once out of that set last week vs. Tennessee.

3. Run Brian, run: The Eagles have had 40-plus rushing attempts in a game just five times in the Andy Reid era, and two have been in the last 2 weeks. Wind or no wind tonight, Reid and his offensive lieutenant, Marty Mornhinweg, need to continue to run the ball, mainly because the Browns aren’t very good at stopping teams that do. They’re 28th against the run and 24th in yards allowed per carry (4.5).

4. (Don’t) block that kick: David Akers has had three field goal attempts blocked this season, including two that were returned for touchdowns. Both of the blocks that resulted in TDs, including the one last week vs. the Giants, came up the middle. This is significant because that’s where Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers, who leads all active NFL players with 12 blocked kicks, will be lining up.

5. Defending the run: With the Browns down to their third quarterback, weak-armed Ken Dorsey, they have to be able to run the ball to have any hope of pulling off an upset. In their four wins this season, they averaged 4.4 yards per carry. In their nine losses, 3.7. They’ve scored a total of 21 points in their last three games, averaging 3.2 yards per carry.

Daily News NFL Columnist
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