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Matchups to Watch for the Browns-Texans


Texans WR Andre Johnson vs. Browns CB Eric Wright

The Texans are again going to look to get Johnson more involved. He has yet to top 70 yards in the month of November. In October, he topped 130 yards in each game. Teams are playing him in a Cover 2 and using a safety over the top most of the time. There are times when Johnson is in man coverage, though, and quarterback Sage Rosenfels needs to find him in those instances. With the team likely to spend much of this game trying to run the ball, Rosenfels must take advantage in the instances where he has a chance to go to Johnson. Wright is talented but at times inconsistent.

Texans RB Steve Slaton vs. Browns run defense

Slaton has a burst of speed and runs low to the ground. The combination is making it hard for defenders to tackle him. He rushed for 156 yards last week, but he had just 14 carries, meaning he won’t be overly worn down this week. The Texans will focus on the run again Sunday. Slaton’s carries should remain about the same, but his yardage may be reduced. It all depends on which Browns run defense shows up, with their big run-clogging line. Slaton’s chances for touchdowns will remain limited if the coaches continue to use Ahman Green in goal line situations, too.

Browns RB Jamal Lewis vs. Texans run defense

Lewis has been a disappointment following a 1,304-yard and nine-touchdown season in 2007. He has 658 yards and four touchdowns, while averaging 3.6 yards per carry. He doesn’t have a 100-yard or multi-touchdown game. This could be the week to give him another chance, though. The Texans rank 24th against the run (132.5 yards per game). Lewis got going at this time last season as the weather turned cold and the Browns committed to the run. He will likely get all the carries, as up-and-comer Jerome Harrison is expected to miss the game with a hamstring injury. Lewis insists he’s not washed up at age 29.

Texans QB Sage Rosenfels vs. Browns pass defense

Rosenfels has thrown four touchdown passes against seven interceptions while filling in for Matt Schaub (knee). Rosenfels has completed 66.1 percent of his passes with an average of 8.10 yards an attempt, though. The Browns are 19th in pass defense, allowing 219.0 yards per game. The secondary bounced back slightly against the Buffalo Bills after two terrible games, but much of that was due to Trent Edwards’ three first-quarter interceptions. The Browns don’t get much of a pass rush, which should give Rosenfels time to Andre Johnson and tight end Owen Daniels.

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