Browns: Linebackers will be key vs. Dalton
This Sunday, we will see two AFC North contenders face off with major playoff implications. The Browns will look to capitalize on Andy Dalton‘s struggles with pressure in order to pull out a win against the in-state rival Bengals.
Like most quarterbacks, Dalton’s passing performance takes a dip when under pressure and currently holds a -2.9 grade in that category for 2014. However, he has been good against the blitz (+4.4), so the Browns will have to get pressure without compromising coverage on the back end.
Luckily for Cleveland, last year’s linebacker investments are paying dividends. Both Barkevious Mingo (2013 first-round pick) and Paul Kruger (free-agent signing) are in the Top 20 overall in Pass Rushing Productivity for their position.
Manning the middle of that LB corps should be Chris Kirksey and Karlos Dansby, the latter of which is targeting this Sunday as his return from an MCL injury. Both players rank in the Top 5 for Inside Linebacker Coverage.
If the Browns can harness the capabilities of Kruger and Mingo coming off the edge, while getting stellar coverage from the guys inside, it could be a long day for Dalton and company in First Energy Stadium.