The Cleveland Browns take their seventh ranked defense on the road to face the banged up Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field.
At 3-3 Cleveland has made huge strides on defense this season thanks to the steady production up front by linebackers D’Qwell Jackson and Craig Robertson, and a secondary featuring defensive backs Buster Skrine and Joe Haden’s 18 passes defended.
But teams have still been able to extend drives against the Browns by converting 44 percent of their third downs, the 29th worst number in the league.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and running back Eddie Lacy could take advantage and keep the hampered Packer defense off the field with long drives. Green Bay has ruled linebackers Nick Perry, Brad Jones, and Clay Matthews out, leaving the Packers very vulnerable up the middle.
A.J. Hawk is the only healthy starting Packer linebacker, with back-up Mike Neal questionable with a bum shoulder. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Green Bay will look to rookies Andy Fulumba and Nate Palmer to fill in on the outside.
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The Packers have won two straight games as they look to keep pace in the crowded NFC North, and picked up their first road victory last week, barely escaping Baltimore 19-17.
Lacy wound the clock down with 120 yards on 23 carries, and receiver Jordy Nelson provided the Packers only touchdown off four receptions for 113 yards. Rodgers went 17-for-32 for 315 yards, a touchdown, and a pick.
It was Nelson’s second 100-yard game of the season, and he might be asked to do a lot more on Sunday with Randall Cobb placed on injured reserve with a broken fibula, and James Jones listed as questionable with a knee injury.
Cleveland welcomed quarterback Brandon Weeden back as the starter last week and held a 10-point lead heading into halftime against Detroit, but ultimately punted on four of its six possessions in the second half and fell 31-17. Still seeking his first win as a starter this season, Weeden completed 26 of his 43 pass attempts for 292 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Receiver Josh Gordon totaled seven catches for 126 yards, for the third 100-yard game of his two year career.
Weeden is 5-13 as a starter, with Cleveland’s three wins this season coming off the arm of injured Brian Hoyer.
Cleveland also has a few injury concerns. Second-string defensive lineman Billy Winn is out with a quadriceps knock, and linebacker Brandon Magee was limited this week with an oblique injury and is currently questionable.
These two teams last met in 2010 when Rodgers tossed three touchdowns in a 31-3 victory. Cleveland managed 139 total yards to the Packers 460.
Point Spread: Green Bay is favored by 10.5 points.
Over-Under: 46 points
Kickoff Time: 4:25 PM Eastern Time
Where To Watch Online: NFL Game Access
TV Channel: CBS
Prediction: Cleveland 23, Green Bay 17