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Opponent Profile: Browns Are No Longer Pushovers

By Matthew Asher

Now that Atlanta has won their second straight game, the 4-6 Falcons are the leader in the NFC South. They finally return home to the Georgia Dome after an extended road trip, bye week and "home" game in London to play host to the 6-4 Cleveland Browns who are coming off a rough 23-7 loss at the hands of the Houston Texans.

While Atlanta is 4-0 in their division, the real test for the team begins now as their remaining non-divisional opponents all have winning records. If Atlanta can get through these next four teams with three victories, they have a good chance at winning their division.

Browns Offense

Cleveland may have drafted Johnny Manziel with hopes of starting him this season, but with the way Brian Hoyer has played so far, Johnny Football will remain Johnny Clipboard for the foreseeable future. Hoyer has thrown for more than 2,500 yards, 11 touchdown and just 5 interceptions for a passer rating of 86.0. He's also been sacked 15 times and actually has negative eight rushing yards on 19 attempts and no touchdowns on the ground.

Three different Browns have picked up at least 300 rushing yards. Terrance West leads the team with 112 rushes for 408 yards to go along with 3 rushing touchdowns as well as 39 receibing yards and 1 TD through the air. Ben Tate has 333 rushing yards on 106 attempts and 4 touchdowns while Isaiah Crowell adds 358 yards on 78 attempts and a team-leading 5 rushing touchdowns. 

Hoyer has three primary receivers that have each caught at least 25 passes and 400 receiving yards through the first 10 games. Andrew Hawkins leads the team with 45 catches and 601 yards to go along with 2 touchdowns. Miles Austin has 34 catches, 418 yards and 2 touchdowns of his own. Taylor Gabriel has 29 grabs for 527 yards and one touchdown. Interesting that none of these men lead the team in TD receptions. That honor goes to Travis Benjamin who has 3 touchdown catches despite only having 15 receptions for 269 yards.

Browns Defense

This should be a very interesting contest because Cleveland is great at limiting passing yards but terrible on stopping the run. The Falcons are great at passing the ball but have issues running it. The main reason Cleveland is 6-4 is their defense may give up yardage, but they have the seventh stingiest defense regarding points allowed, averaging just 19.5 per contest.

As a team, the Browns have recorded 20 sacks. Paul Kruger leads the team with 6 of them to his credit while Desmond Bryant and Karlos Dansby have 3 sacks apiece. Cleveland has also recorded 14 total interceptions. Tashaun Gipson has done the majority of the damage as he's responsible for 6 interceptions including the team's only pick-six. Buster Skrine has 4 interceptions of his own and the other four Browns have 1 INT each.

Conclusion

Since Atlanta is coming off two straight wins and Cleveland just had its winning streak stopped at two games as well, the Falcons have a slight edge in momentum. This game won't be easy, but if Atlanta's defense plays like they did in the first half against Carolina, a third straight win wouldn't be a surprise. Kickoff is scheduled for 1pm ET and will be shown on CBS. #RiseUp

For more Falcons news and updates, visit Falcons Central.

Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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