Browns cornerback Joe Haden has shut down some of the league's top receivers this season.
Shorts vs. Haden: Browns cornerback Joe Haden will likely match up exclusively with Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts. It’s a matchup that clearly favors the Browns. Haden is playing at a Pro Bowl level and is tied for the NFL lead with 16 pass breakups. He neutralized Calvin Johnson (three catches, 25 yards) and A.J. Green (nine catches, 58 yards in two games). Shorts is the Jaguars’ leading receiver (58 catches for 700 yards) but has struggled when defenses have made it a priority to take him out of the game.
Weeden returns:Jason Campbell is out with a concussion so Brandon Weeden will start at quarterback for the Browns. He has really struggled in his second season, throwing six touchdown passes and seven interceptions in four starts. The Jaguars’ secondary has just two interceptions this season and only one in the last seven weeks.
Pressure: Jacksonville’s offensive line has struggled in pass protection all season (37 sacks allowed) and it could be another rough day on Sunday. The Browns have 31 sacks and the production is pretty spread out: 15 players have at least one sack, including rookie Barkevious Mingo, who has a team-high four. The Jaguars gave up four sacks last week and quarterback Chad Henne took a beating all day.
Better against the run: The Jaguars’ rush defense has been significantly better since the bye week. In the eight games before the bye, the Jaguars were allowing an average of 162 yards per game rushing. In the three games since the bye, the Jaguars are allowing only 58 yards per game. Cleveland has struggled to run the ball, even before the Trent Richardson trade. The Browns are averaging 81.0 yards per game on the ground and have rushed for only one touchdown.
Moving up: Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew needs 108 all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving, returns) to move past Jimmy Smith into second place on the franchise’s all-time all-purpose yardage list. Jones-Drew has 12,768 yards in 110 games. Fred Taylor is the record holder with 13,632 yards, which he accomplished in 140 games.