Big Ben and the Steelers come to town

The Browns have been riding a roller coaster this season with all the changes at quarterback and the inconsistent play by the team. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that this is the new norm in the NFL. Few teams are consistently good, and then there are several that are consistently terrible. With everyone else, the quality of play varies dramatically from week to week. With teams like the Browns we’ve seen mini streak where everything seemed to go well and others where everything goes wrong.

The bottom line is that you can never read too much into one or even several games. After two starts it looked like Jason Campbell might save the season for the Browns, and expectations were high heading into yesterday’s Bengals game. Unfortunately, Campbell’s miserable performance was coupled with a special teams’ meltdown, completely wasting the opportunities provided by Joe Haden and the defense and the lame performance by Andy Dalton. Everything went wrong yesterday.

Now the Steelers are coming into town. The Browns are two-point favorites, which means this is essentially a pick em’ game since the home team usually gets the benefit of three points. The Steelers were left for dead at the beginning of the season, but Big Ben is still one of the best in the NFL, and if he gets some protection he’s still very dangerous. Many of us were looking forward to a Browns beat-down of the old and declining Steelers, but all of a sudden the matchup of Jason Campbell vs a resurgent Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t look so great.

This game seems impossible to predict. Which Browns team will show up? Which Steelers team will show up? You can’t read too much into yesterday’s games as I pointed out above, so this one might not be your best bet if you’re looking to pick games against the spread this week. You can do all the research you want on this game and find a good site for your picks by checking out this site which does independent ranking based on customers and reviews. But you might be better off passing on this one in favor of another game.

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McCarron vs. Mettenberger – The Browns will be watching!

AJ McCarron - SH

The Alabama – LSU matchup tonight has huge implications for the BCS Championship game, and plenty of Ohio State fans will be watching as they root for LSU to pull the upset. But the interest in Northeast Ohio goes beyond the implications for the Buckeyes, as both AJ McCarron and Zach Mettenberger will likely be getting plenty of scrutiny from Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi.

Both McCarron and Mettenberger fit the mold of pro-style quarterbacks that tend to have the most long-term success in the NFL. Dual-threat quarterbacks are all the rage right now, but I’ll take someone who can win from the pocket any day over a quarterback who relies too much on using his legs. The pro game is just different, and when factoring long-term success the threat of injury is a huge issue facing dual-threat quarterbacks who don’t learn to go through their progressions in the pocket. Just look at RG3. Also, look at the history of quarterbacks who actually win Super Bowls. Guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning win games with their arms. Sure, some of them will scramble on occasion to pick up yardage or buy time in the pocket, but you don’t see them putting their bodies and careers at risk with designed running plays or reckless scrambling.

Both McCarron and Mettenberger are intriguing for the Browns because both of them would probably sit for a year or two under Hoyer/Campbell if the Browns take them, giving them to to develop properly. Both of course also come with plenty of question marks, and this is where Lombardi has to earn his paycheck. For example, McCarron has led a charmed life playing behind monster Alabama lines that create a real running game and also rarely give up sacks. So how does McCarron handle pressure? The Browns will need to scour the film to find out. Unfortunately with McCarron we aren’t likely to see him win a game on his own where he’s getting beat up all night. That’s one of the characteristics Ernie saw in Eli Manning when he was picked #1 in the draft. Perhaps we’ll see the LSU defense bring pressure tonight so we can see how McCarron reacts.

Mettenberger is getting plenty of love from the scouts as he’s improved dramatically this year. Let’s see how he fares against Alabama’s defesne tonight.

So I’ll be watching with interest tonight as I hope LSU gives Ohio State a roadmap to the BCS championship game with an upset. And I’ll also be watching to see if either McCarron are Mettenberger deserve serious consideration from the Browns.