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Dawg Pound Journal: 7 different ways the Cleveland Browns are winning games


1)      Turnover margin

With a plus-nine turnover margin, Cleveland ranks fourth in the NFL. Only the Patriots (12), Cardinals (12) and Packers (10) have a higher total. There isn't a weak spot in Cleveland's secondary, which has been the primary source of getting the ball back for the offense. Safety Tashuan Gipson and cornerback Buster Skrine are the only pair of teammates in the NFL where both have at least four interceptions. Once they get the football back, Brian Hoyer and the offense have been a smoothly operating machine, taking the right risks on play-action passes down the field. Cleveland's eight giveaways are also the third fewest in the NFL.  

2)      Scoring defense

Since the Oct. 12 game against Pittsburgh, the Browns are allowing just 13.4 points per game. The defense has morphed into a rigorous unit who has the ability to take control of games. Teams coming away with points in the red zone have been on the luckier side, too. Opponents are only scoring 44.4 percent of the time against Cleveland inside the 20-yard line.

3)      Running the football

The Bengals still might be having nightmares of the 52 carries they saw last Thursday, the most in an NFL all season. The Browns managed to skate by the Raiders and Buccaneers without much of a running game, but it's clear when the combination of Ben Tate, Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell are firing on all cylinders and it makes Cleveland's offense look like a top-10 unit.

4)      Brian Hoyer

Just win, baby. It's all Hoyer seems to do. His record as a starter is now 9-3 in Cleveland. The perception of Hoyer only being a game-manager have quelled significantly. He's help rejuvenate Miles Austin's career, made Taylor Gabriel a dangerous deep threat, put Travis Benjamin's jersey in the Hall of Fame and made Andrew Hawkins a legitimate No.1 receiving target. A healthy Jordan Cameron and a fresh Josh Gordon are the Pro Bowlers waiting the in the wings.

5)      Second half adjustments

The Browns are outscoring their opponents in the second half 114-78. Veterans like Karlos Dansby and Paul Kruger have raved about the coaching staff making the right adjustments on play calls coming out of the gates in the third quarter. Hoyer's quarterback rating is 82.9 in the first half; 97.5 in the second.  

6)      Mike Pettine

Read our article here on how Pettine interacts on the sidelines. He lets his coordinators Kyle Shanahan and Jim O'Neil immerse themselves in the game plan while Pettine manages the clocks and bigger decisions. For a first year coach, it's been a rather seamless transition and credit goes to Pettine for hiring this staff, who all seem in sync.

7)      Billy Cundiff

Outside of the Baltimore game where he had a kick blocked, Cundiff has been nearly flawless this season (16-of19 on field goals). Cundiff also already has 33 touchbacks on the year and the Browns' special teams are allowing 20.8 yards per kickoff return, ranking fifth best in the NFL.

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