NFL preseason 2013: Lions vs. Browns game preview

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Two teams looking to rebound from a rough 2012 meet in Cleveland hoping to continue a perfect start.

Few teams have had it worse over the past dozen years than the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions.

Since the turn of the century, the teams have combined for three playoff appearances and zero wins. Cleveland fans have had to endure the fun of Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb, Charlie Frye, Brady Quinn and other Hall of Fame talents. Detroit has given its fans Matt Millen, and all that comes along with Matt Millen.

However, both teams now have talent on both sides of the ball. While both franchises still have some shortcomings, there is finally hope for the Browns as the Lions look to return to the playoffs after a down year in 2012.

Meet the Lions

With talents such as Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh anchoring the offense and defense, prospects seemed bright to make a run toward the Super Bowl after being a wild card team in 2011. However, those thoughts became far from reality, as the Lions finished 4-12 with an eight-game losing streak.

Now, head coach Jim Schwartz is on the hot seat entering his fourth season at the helm. Matthew Stafford is also seeking a bounce-back campaign after throwing 17 interceptions. Stafford signed a three-year extension to make his current deal five years and $76 million, showing the organization has serious faith in him. With the addition of Reggie Bush, the offense should be even more dangerous.

Meet the Browns

Cleveland has a new era on its hands with the hiring of former Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rod Chudzinski as head coach. Chudzinski's most important hire was bringing in Norv Turner to run the offense, installing his Don Coryell system.The Coryell offense relies on a route tree of a deep, intermediate and short option built into every passing play.

Turner's first major project is getting quarterback Brandon Weeden to consistently play like the first-round pick that he was in 2012. With weapons on the outside in Greg Little and Josh Gordon and a running back in Trent Richardson, the pieces are there for the Browns to finally have a powerful offense if Weeden can get on track.

Local takes: Lions

Over at Pride of Detroit, Jerry Reisman talks about the chances of rookie Larry Warford starting:

Warford had an overall impressive day both in run blocking and pass protection. Having been in on well over half of the Lions' offensive snaps, Warford was asked to do everything. He pulled to the other side of the line, he shot downfield on screens and he dealt with stunts.

While there wasn't a clear advantage in terms of play, it is pretty clear what the end game is at RG. It's Warford's job to lose.

Local takes: Browns

Chris Pokorny writes about Weeden's performance in the preseason opener at Dawgs By Nature:

There were several players I considered giving the game ball to this week, but Weeden was too good at a consistent rate on his two drives to not pick him. He helped engineer two scoring drives on back-to-back possessions, both of which saw Cleveland get down into the red zone. We saw him with the opportunity to make a variety of throws in certain situations -- a third-down bread-and-butter play to WR Davone Bess, the deep in route to WR Josh Gordon, a successful screen pass, and several throws into the end zone.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Pride of Detroit and Dawgs By Nature, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

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It stands to reason the starters will see almost if not a full half of football to start getting into a legitimate rhythm while allowing coaches to make adjustments. Outside of avoiding injury, the most important issues here are watching how the first teams gel and which reserves on the roster bubble are worth keeping.

The pick: Browns 27-17


The Browns and Lions are looked upon as an EVEN headed into Thursday night's game, according to Oddsshark.

Next week

The Lions will host the New England Patriots next Thursday while the Browns will hit the road to face the Indianapolis Colts.

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