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Browns-Jaguars: 5 things to watch for


Will the Browns defense continue to play lights out?

For the past six quarters, Cleveland's defense has been nearly impenetrable. The Titans and Steelers combined for a mere 10 points, and Pittsburgh lone touchdown came during garbage time of a fourth quarter blow out. It's as if a light bulb has gone off. A big reason for the improvement is the secondary. Since allowing Jake Locker and Charlie Whitehurst to go off in the first half of Week 5, Buster Skrine, Joe Haden and Donte Whiter (who we wrote about yesterday) have been locking down receivers – making the quarterback's life uncomfortable in the pocket. The Browns are hopeful and confident they will carry this momentum into Jacksonville and make Sunday miserable and full of interceptions for rookie quarterback Blake Bortles.

Watch for: Increased pass rush. Barkevious Mingo had some big moments against the Steelers and could see an increase in his reps.

How will Jordan Cameron play?

The Pro Bowl tight end torched the Steelers secondary for 93 first-half yards. When Cameron's humming and drawing double teams from linebackers and safeties, it adds another element to the already dynamic Cleveland offense. Look for Cameron to get targets early in the game, and in turn, watch how his success in the passing game gives more room for Ben Tate and Isaiah Crowell to run.

Watch for: Paul Posluszny. Will the Jaguars have their star linebacker mark Cameron? Or will they use him more as a tackler and blitzer near the line of scrimmage. 

Will the Browns offensive line be challenged?

The big boys up front have controlled the line of scrimmage in every game this season, and it may be the biggest reason for the Browns' success. All signs are pointing to John Greco being Cleveland's short term replacement at center this week, meaning Paul McQuistan or Vinston Painter will get the nod at right guard. The offensive line will have their hands full. The Jaguars are tied for second in the NFL with 19 sacks and coach Mike Pettine told the media most of their pressure in is generated from their front four.

Watch for: Joel Bitonio. There are whispers around the league if his play continues like this, the rookie left guard may be considered for the Pro Bowl.

Starting quickly

Pettine didn't reveal specifics, but the Browns are tweaking their pregame routine to try and prevent the bleeding that occurred in Pittsburgh and Tennessee. Cleveland was gutted in both first halves, trailing 27-3 Week 1 against the Steelers and 28-10 Week 5 against the Titans. There's no excuse for that to happen against the Jaguars. Most of the damage in those poor starts was self-inflicted. Defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil says now that the defense is playing looser, the unit is poised to go out walk-the-walk.

Watch for: Donte Whitner. His increased energy against the Steelers was contagious. * *

Brian Hoyer

Man, has this guy been fun to watch. Cleveland is going bananas over their quarterback these days, and rightfully so. There are fantasy football players benching the likes of Jay Cutler and Colin Kaepernick, opting to play Hoyer instead. The confidence the 29-year-old has in himself has spread like wildfire in the Cleveland locker room. In years past it's been hard for a Browns team to rally around a quarterback. With Hoyer in control of the offense, those thoughts of doubt have left the building. 

Watch for: The deep ball. Hoyer's arguably throwing it better down the field than any other quarterback in the league.

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