|Browns go for eighth win, but Cardinals tough against AFC North|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 29 November 2007 16:11|
So the high-flying Cleveland Browns can assume that Sunday's game against the Cardinals is no gimmee.
``It definitely helps that he knows that division,'' Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel said. ``I'm sure he's looking forward to us coming out because he's beaten Pittsburgh, and we haven't been able to do that. He's beaten Cincinnati.''
Whisenhunt, Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator before coming to Arizona this season, brushes aside suggestions his former ties to the AFC North have led to the Cardinals' nonconference success.
``I don't know that that has anything to do with it,'' he said. ``I think we've been close in a number of games this year, in fact every game, and it's just in those that we made enough plays to win.''
The Browns have done just fine against the NFC West, too, going 2-0 with victories over St. Louis and Seattle. Cleveland has won five of six to go to 7-4, a game behind first-place Pittsburgh in the division.
The team's performance has turned loose some of the most rabid fans in football to finally cheer on a successful Browns team again. The players are trying to avoid the hoopla, though, quarterback Derek Anderson said.
``This is a football town, and it means a lot to the people of the city,'' he said. ``We're just trying to focus in, taking it one week at a time and really not going there with that right now.''
The Cardinals (5-6) are just one game out of the wild-card spot in the mediocre NFC, but they're coming off arguably their worst loss of the season, 37-31 in overtime at home to a San Francisco team that had lost eight in a row.
``We're definitely going to learn from that,'' Arizona defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. ``I can tell by the bitter looks, the way people are looking in practice. We've got to correct these little things to get where we want to get.''
Arizona's defense has been depleted by the loss of cornerback Eric Green and Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson to season-ending injuries. That could open up things for Anderson, who threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception, in last weekend's 27-17 home victory over Houston.
``We've had good weeks of preparation and practice,'' Anderson said. ``I don't think guys will be doing any less this week.''
Antrel Rolle will start in place of Green, trying to put aside his grief over the shooting death of his childhood friend, Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor.
``We're counting on Antrel,'' Whisenhunt said. ``Certainly it's tough, and he has to fight through it, but he's got to be ready on Sunday.''
Outside linebacker Calvin Pace said that, despite Anderson and his talented receivers, the first order of business will be to stop running back Jamal Lewis, who gained 134 yards in 29 carries last Sunday.
``It's a buzz-saw, man. They've got so many weapons,'' Pace said. ``They've got a proven running back who's been to the Pro Bowl and run a Super Bowl. The O-line is playing well. They've got Kellen Winslow and the other receivers. It's going to be a tough game. But like I've been saying, we've got to stop the run first.''
The Cleveland defense, which held the Texans to 19 yards rushing and sacked Matt Schaub twice, goes against an Arizona offense that accumulated 552 yards last week, including a career-high 484 yards passing for Kurt Warner.
Warner has sore ribs to go along with his torn ligament in his non-throwing (left) elbow, but practiced all week. He said it's been difficult to forget the 49ers loss, which ended when he was sacked and fumbled in the end zone. San Francisco recovered for the winning touchdown.
Moments earlier, Arizona's Neil Rackers missed a 32-yard field goal that would have won the game.
``That game was a tough loss,'' Warner said. ``You put it behind you and you move forward, because there's a lot ahead of us yet.''
The Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald, the NFC's reception leader, was limited in practice all week with a sore groin, but said he expects to play. Cleveland's Braylon Edwards was kept out of practice Wednesday and Thursday with a sore hamstring, but is expected to play, too.
In a subplot, Maurice Carthon, who resigned as Cleveland offensive coordinator six games into last season, will be on the Arizona sideline as running backs coach.