Points should be easy to come by as the Cleveland Browns travel to the desert Sunday to take on the Arizona Cardinals in an interesting showdown between two teams with rather high powered offenses. The Browns are having their best season since their return to the NFL in 1999, with an offense led by quarterback Derek Anderson, who has truly come out of nowhere to have a Pro Bowl like season. Last week at home vs the Texans, the Browns started out somewhat slow, trailing 7-0 and 10-7, but then put a key drive together right before the half to take the lead and then wore down the Houston defense in the second half with Jamal Lewis pounding out yards in a solid 27-17 win.
The Cardinals are coming off a huge home loss to the 49’ers, as they had every shot to win and gain some revenge to a bad team they lost to on opening day, but made some huge errors, the biggest being a missed field goal in overtime before finally losing 37-31 after Kurt Warner fumbled in the end zone and the 9’ers jumped on it for the win. If Arizona has playoffs dreams, they simply have to win this game or they will be faced likely with an uphill battle that will be too much to reach the postseason.
The key here for both teams will simply be who can make more plays and not force mistakes. The Browns have gotten better as the year has gone on in not turning the ball over. They have been more prone to doing it on the road, as two weeks ago Anderson threw a pick that was returned for a score, and the week before Lewis fumbled vs the Steelers and it was turnover that really changed the momentum of that game. The Cards have had their share of troubles in that department as well, as Warner has to take better care of the ball against a Browns defense that was able to put pressure on Matt Schaub last week.
Arizona would be best served to let Edgerrin James touch the ball a lot. Their O-line had gotten off to a good start and he was having a solid season, but they got away from it and with it James’ numebrs have gone down. Running against the Browns is something the Cards should focus on, plus it keeps Anderson and the Browns off the field. For Cleveland, they should do what they have been doing best, attack the Cards secondary and use plenty of tight end Kellen Winslow to soften up the Cards for a few shots down the field.
This should be a fun game to watch, and I would not be stunned to see a 38-35 game or something like that. The Cards need the win badly, and at home I think they will somehow find enough offense to make plays to diffuse a Browns team that is still in good position to play past December 30th.