Week 1: Dolphins-Browns matchup analysis

The Sports Xchange

September 05, 2013 at 12:22 pm.

Aug 15, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson (33) runs the ball away from Detroit Lions cornerback Chris Houston (23) in the first quarter of a preseason game at FirstEnergy Stadium. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Dolphins (0-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-0)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, at FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots
*Keys to the game: Browns RB Trent Richardson won’t leave the field until Cleveland punts, and he’ll get as much work as he can withstand. Richardson, down 10 pounds to 225 this season, earned the right to be on the field on third downs with improved blocking and receiving in preseason. QB Brandon Weeden and TE Jordan Cameron showed a strong connection. Cameron is a talented athlete with size to win one-on-one matchups with linebackers and safeties. The Browns’ underrated offensive line faces heat against OLBs Cameron Wake and Dion Jordan. If Weeden can move the chains with former Miami slot receiver Davone Bess, Cleveland has a chance to wear down the Dolphins’ front seven. Ryan Tannehill, drafted before Weeden in the 2012 first round, is behind new protection with Jonathan Martin at left tackle. The Dolphins will use more three-wide receiver sets to get speedster Mike Wallace and long-limbed Brandon Gibson in favorable matchups.

*Matchup to watch – Dolphins RB Lamar Miller vs. Browns’ defensive line: Cleveland rolls out a 1,000-pound brick wall in its three-man defensive line, anchored by Ahtbya Rubin and Phil Taylor. Miller, who said in training camp his goal is 1,500 yards, isn’t considered a polished pass blocker but not necessarily because of his physical stature. “Lamar is a very smooth back and he’s more powerful than you’d think,” offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said.

*Player spotlight – Browns LB Paul Kruger: He was Cleveland’s big prize in free agency. He’s tasked primarily with putting pressure on the quarterback, and his forte is strength. He got to Andrew Luck with a strong bull rush in the third preseason game and will try doing the same to Tannehill.

*Fast facts: The Browns have won the season opener just once since 1999. Cleveland has a victory in one of its first three games just once in the past five seasons, but has won four straight over the Dolphins since 2005. … Wallace averaged 20.8 yards per catch against the Browns while with the Steelers (16 receptions, 333 yards).


Cleveland scores the surprise with big plays by the Browns’ young and rising defense and just enough production from QB Brandon Weeden.

*Our pick: Browns 22-17