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Los Angeles Rams at Cleveland Browns: The Professor’s preview

Sunday Night Football at the Mistake on the Lake.

Team Owners at NFL Meeting

Our Los Angeles Rams head home to their birthplace Cleveland, Ohio to face-off against the Cleveland Browns in a nationally televised Sunday Night football game.

The Rams joined the National Football League in 1937. The cost was $10,000.

Despite winning the NFL Championship in 1945, the Cleveland Rams were unable to attract fans in competition with their local rival, the Cleveland Browns. Dan Reeves, who had acquired the team, (a supermarket mogul from Cleveland) decided to move the Rams to Los Angeles in 1947. Prior to this, there were no professional teams west of of Mississippi. Following the Rams, came the Dodgers from Brooklyn and Lakers from Minneapolis.

Reeves made this unprecedented move, because he had a vision. He believed that the NFL’s future success was dependent on a new fangled family entertainment medium called television, and there was no better way to gain exposure to this new platform than being at ground zero.

He brought in Bob Hope in as a co-owner and surrounded himself with the Hollywood elite including seeing his future HOF QB Bob Waterfield marry movie star Jane Russell. He hired Pete Rozelle as his general manager and told him to learn everything there is about entertainment industry.

With the knowledge acquired tutoring and lobbying by Dan Reeves, Rozelle was elected Commissioner taking over for the retiring Bert Bell. Rozelle turned the NFL into the single most powerful sport’s league among the major sports. The Los Angeles Rams’ former general manager created NFL Films, the Super Bowl, merged the AFL with the NFL and started Monday Night Football which at that time became primetime, must-see TV.

Dan Reeves is one of the few owners elected and enshrined in Canton Ohio, home of the NFL’s Hall of Fame. He deserves it.

This Sunday, Dreamland meets Believeland,

What the Rams need to do on offense

Steven Wilks, the former head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, is now the defensive coordinator for the Browns. He knows the Rams’ offense up close and personal. The Professor questions whether this hiring is an upgrade from their former defensive coordinator, now with the New York Jets, Gregg Williams.

The reason the Professor has questions is from what I’ve seen from the Browns this year, despite having DE Myles Garrett, there’s not much there that scares me. Assuming RT Rob Havenstein can contain or at least neutralize Garrett, I look for the Rams to emerge from their offensive first half stumbling and bumbling and score lots of points against the Browns.

I believe the Rams will control the line of scrimmage, and that starts with the run game featuring RB Todd Gurley . This will make the Browns vulnerable to the playaction pass. If QB Jared Goff shakes off the first half jitters and is on target for a change, the Rams should be able to move the chains creating mismatches in the Browns’ secondary for wide receivers Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp to expose.

If RG Austin Blythe is unable to play due to his ankle injury, replacement Jamil Demby must step it up. He’ll have help from his fellow lineman, but it’s on Demby to take advantage of the opportunity against Browns DT Sheldon Richardson, a former first-round pick for the Jets who has also played for the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings. If he had lived up to being the 2013 draftee the Jets believed he was, he would’ve found a permanent home by now.

I like the Rams to open up the playbook this week for the national TV audience sending the message that this team is elite as the defending NFC Champions and the path to the Super Bowl will to run through Los Angeles.

What the Rams need to do on defense

With the first pick in the NFL draft last year, the Browns went for Oklahoma’s cocky, self-absorbed quarterback Baker Mayfield. Coming off the bench last year, Baker was being favorably compared to QB Brett Favre, a gunslinger, more then willing take chances with his arm.

From what the Professor has seen thus far this year from Baker, he makes as many goofball mistakes as Favre did throughout his career.

The Browns decided that in order to win, they needed to surround Baker with targets. Besides WR Jarvis Landry, the Browns traded with the New York Giants acquiring their star wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., and pickup troubled, but gifted, running back Kareem Hunt from the Kansas City Chiefs who will sit this game out having been suspended.

Most football fans were extremely high on the Browns this year. Even the experts got caught up in the hype projecting them not only as playoff contenders but several picking them to win the division and even going to the Super Bowl as the AFC participant.

With that said, the Browns opened up the season losing to the Tennessee Titans 43-13, thanks to the blunders from the Mayfield and followed that up with an unimpressive win against the Jets, 23-3, who were without starting quarterback, Sam Darnold and replacement Trevor Siemian gone early in the game (he’s now out for the year with an ankle injury). Third-string QB Luke Falk found some success against the Browns’ secondary; however, the Jets squandered away opportunities with silly penalties and turnovers managing to score a mere three points. Had it not been for the miscues, the Jets might have made a game out of it.

Since I project the Rams to score points against the Browns defense, it will be up to the Browns’ new head coach, Freddie Kitchens, to dial up some creative plays for Baker and his crew to match the Rams’ score for score. I just can’t see the Browns doing this.

The Rams’ defense will be building on the stellar performance against the New Orleans Saints. I expect Rams Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips to have a lot of different looks confusing Baker. Out of the pocket, Mayfield is dangerous, but unlike the Jets, the Rams’ secondary has demonstrated that it can maintain blanket coverage both in the zone and man-to-man.

What really pops out to me is that whomever lines up against Browns starting LT Greg Robinson needs to have a career day. The former first-round pick with the Rams was a bust. He’s terrible. I never saw a left tackle get so many illegal procedure penalties for moving prior to the snap. That’s just being lazy. The Rams couldn’t get rid of him fast enough once Head Coach Sean McVay was hired.

After being traded to the lowly Detroit Lions, Robinson was out of work. For the life of me, I can’t fathom what the Browns saw in his abilities to not only sign him but make him their starting left tackle.

The problem with the Browns meeting preseason expectations has been their poor offensive line. Having Robinson at LT doesn’t help.

What the Rams’ need to do on special teams

The usual high grade performance I’m used to.

Intangibles

If you’re a football history buff as I am, the Browns are one of the most iconic franchises in the league. Cleveland fans have supported their team through thick and thin though mostly thin being one of two teams who have never even appeared in a Super Bowl with the other being the Detroit Lions.

They’re the only team without a logo on their helmet.

They have the famous “dog pound.”

They coined the phrase “wait till next year.”

They celebrate going 0-16 with a Super Bowl-like parade.

RB Jim Brown, RB Marion Motley, TE Ozzie Newsome, WR Bobby Mitchell, RB Leroy Kelly, C/PK Lou Grosa, QB Otto Graham, Head Coach Paul Brown (the forward pass innovator of today’s modern offenses) are all Cleveland Brown Hall of Famers. This is an extremely impressive list of not only great players, but arguably the best ever at their position. The mere mention of Jim Brown sends shivers up my spine.

As a football fan, I love the Browns...just not when their playing my Rams.

The Rams have ample experience playing on the big stage of Sunday Night. They haven’t had much success at it recently, but this year is different because their opponent is the Browns making their first appearance on Sunday Night since God created the world in seven days.

Don’t discount the pressure the Browns will feel. The Rams on the other hand, must not play down to their competition.

I may be a homegrown Hollywood Dreamer die-hard Rams fan, but my roots are clearly grounded in Believeland.

I’m picking the Rams in a blow out, 35-10.

GO RAMS.