With week 8 of the NFL season just a few days away, the San Francisco 49ers are preparing for the Cleveland Browns, a team they haven’t beaten since Cleveland came back into the league in 1999. The 49ers are coming off of their bye week, but prior to that won a huge game against then undefeated Detroit 25-19. Cleveland is coming off a very ugly 6-3 win over another NFC West foe, the Seattle Seahawks. These two teams last met in Cleveland in 2007 where Cleveland prevailed 20-7. The 49ers would love to have former Brown Braylon Edwards in the lineup for the game but it seems to be very unlikely that will happen at this point.
Both offensive passing attacks have been less than superior this season, with San Fran ranking 31st, and Cleveland ranking 22nd in the league in passing yards per game this season. The difference has been the 49ers dominant rushing attack, which ranks 6th in the league, while Cleveland has struggled running the ball this season, they rank 29th in the league with 91 yards per game on average. While Colt McCoy has better numbers for the most part than Alex Smith, they are tied with 8 touchdowns, and the 49ers don’t have to lean on Smith as much as the Browns do with McCoy, because the rushing game with Frank Gore is better than Cleveland’s’ with Peyton Hillis. When the 49ers do pass the ball, Vernon Davis has been the main target catching 24 passes for 271 yards and 3 td’s. For Cleveland the team has struggled to gain a consistent and potent threat at receiver, but the main target so far has been Mohammed Massaquoi, as he has 18 catches for 239 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The strength for both teams are their defenses, as San Francisco is 22nd against the pass, allowing 261 yards per game, but they are 2nd against the run allowing only 74 yards per game. Cleveland comes into the game ranked 1st against the pass, allowing only 171 yards per game, but they rank 20th against the rush giving up 119 yards per game. While the teams can’t be one dimensional, look for each to exploit the other teams’ weakness, and gain what they can otherwise. Special teams will also play a factor in this game as the game touts two potent return men in Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs, and San Francisco’s Ted Ginn.
Don’t look for this game to be a blowout, I believe both defenses are good enough to keep the game close, but that doesn’t mean it can’t turn into an ugly game. With Cleveland’s lack of offensive firepower, and with the way the 49ers are playing right now this game should come out in favor of the 49ers. When all is said and done I think that the running game for San Francisco will be too much for Cleveland to handle, and the 49ers will improve to 6-1 on the season with a solid 24-14 win.