NFL Opening Week Match-Ups: Browns v. Eagles
The road to the Super Bowl in New Orleans will start this Sunday in Cleveland as the Eagles prepare to take on a much-improved Browns team. The Eagles were arguably one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL in 2011. Many pegged this team for Super Bowl contention and they barely finished 8-8.
The Browns got better through the 2012 NFL Draft with two first round selections Trent Richardson (Running Back) and Brandon Weeden (Quarterback). Weeden has flashed some moments of brilliance in the pre-season, but has also looked very much like a rookie at times.
The Michael Vick led Eagles vs. the Browns defense is just one of the sub plots for this game. There are many other intriguing match-ups to watch come Sunday. The one that has my greatest attention is Browns pro bowl left tackle Joe Thomas vs. pass rushing specialist Trent Cole. Thomas is one of the very best left tackles to ever play the game. However, the smaller and speedier pass rushers tend to give Thomas a challenge and keeping Brandon Weeden upright is essential if the Browns are to have any chance at all.
The Eagles proved in 2011 that they could run the football with consistency. LeSean McCoy has emerged as one of the best running backs in the NFL. His running style is a perfect match for the Eagles offensive line’s zone blocking schemes. Can the Browns front 7 contain McCoy? If not, this could be a long day for the Cleveland defense.
The next set of match-ups that are worth paying attention involve the Browns’ cornerbacks led by Joe Harden vs. the potent Eagles receivers: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Jason Avant. The Browns are clearly overmatched here and will need to disguise coverages and bring blitz packages to confuse Vick. If Vick has time, this group of receivers will dominate the Browns’ corners.Continued on the next page