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Browns Vs. Rams NFL Preview: Stopping Steven Jackson Key For Cleveland

For more on the Browns, go to SB Nation's Dawgs By Nature.

The Cleveland Browns have hit a rough spot in their season of late. After starting the year off well, they've lost their last two outings, the most recent of which was to the Houston Texans, where they were thoroughly outplayed on every level. Offensively, the Browns struggled without running back Peyton Hillis and, once again, quarterback Colt McCoy wasn't able to carry the team in any significant way. The troubling aspect was the fact that the defense got torched multiple times, especially in the rushing game, but the pass defense allowed Matt Schaub to be, among other things, very efficient with the short amount of yardage he passed for.

But the Browns have a chance to turn things around and get back in the thick of things in the very competitive AFC North division, when they head home to host the struggling St. Louis Rams. It's a chance to turn things around because the Rams have simply been very bad lately, despite picking up a win a couple weeks back, they looked utterly lost against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

More so than that, they still ended up with the lead and a chance to win the game (they even had two safeties), but a Patrick Peterson punt return touchdown sealed the deal for Arizona and St. Louis lost a low-scoring and ugly - but competitive - game. Still, the Rams are a team that fields Steven Jackson on offense and boasts a generally strong defense, so the Browns can't be looking at this game as some sort of reprieve from big action against better teams.

The key to the game for Cleveland has to be tightening up that run defense. They're allowing a paltry amount of yardage through the air, and Sam Bradford and/or A.J. Feely aren't going to be the guys that turn that around, barring some big, big slip-ups. Cleveland ranks near the top of the league in yards allowed, but that's mostly due to pass defense that doesn't break and doesn't really bend either, and if you look at their rushing yardage allowed, they rank near the bottom of the league - 29th. Stopping Steven Jackson has to be priority.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.