WHEN DOLPHINS RUN THE BALL
Ronnie Brown and the Miami offensive line have done fine work for three consecutive games. Perhaps the most impressive moments of that stretch came last week against a Houston defense ranked No. 6 against the run before the meeting. Despite having starting center Samson Satele banged up with a neck injury, the line didn't seem to miss a beat by plugging in Anthony Alabi at guard and moving Rex Hadnot to center. Cleveland struggles against the run, ranking 30th in the NFL.
WHEN DOLPHINS PASS THE BALL
This is Cleo Lemon's time but now that he has inherited the starting job, after a concussion to Trent Green, he has to keep it. That means Lemon must avoid turnovers, must show some accuracy and must keep from falling into a troubling habit of not planting his back foot. That was apparent last week in Lemon's emergency entrance into the Houston game. It also was apparent Lemon has some sort of chemistry with rookie Ted Ginn Jr., perhaps based on the fact the two practiced on the second team for so long. The Browns are 31st defending the pass this season.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
WHEN BROWNS RUN THE BALL
Jamal Lewis, who once upon a time rushed for 2,000 yards in a season, likely will not play because of a foot injury. That means the Browns will attack Miami with Jason Wright and Jerome Harrison. The Dolphins proved last week they can limit backup runners when Ron Dayne and Houston were held to 74 yards rushing, a season low for Miami. But the Dolphins had struggled stopping the run in the four previous games, so we shall see if they have truly addressed the problem, or if they simply put a Band-Aid on a footlong gash.
WHEN BROWNS PASS THE BALL
The Browns rank second in the NFL in yards per reception and that might be because quarterback Derek Anderson connected with Braylon Edwards on a 78-yard scoring pass this year while also connecting with tight end Kellen Winslow on a 49-yard pass. Anderson has 11 passing TDs this season, tying him for second in the NFL behind Tom Brady. That bodes poorly for a Miami defense that sprung a leak in the secondary last week, yielding a season-high 278 yards. The Dolphins hope to patch that leak with the return of Donovin Darius (calf injury) to the lineup.
The Dolphins have not missed a field goal this season and also have not seen an opponent miss. It could be argued the Dolphins lost last week's special-teams battle when Jay Feely connected on four field goals and Houston's Kris Brown connected on five. Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson, the franchise leader with an 82.1 percent accuracy rating, has missed only one of eight kicks this year -- one that was blocked.
Cleveland's Romeo Crennel was on the hot seat before the start of this season, but that seat has cooled off after improbable victories over Cincinnati and defending AFC North champion Baltimore. Crennel has done it with first-year starting quarterback Derek Anderson. Cam Cameron, who wanted an experienced quarterback this season, now has to adjust his offense to fit inexperienced Cleo Lemon.
The Dolphins lead the all-time regular season series 7-5 and have also won the two postseason meetings. The last time Miami played Cleveland, it was shut out 22-0 in 2005.
1½0/05@ CLE 22, MIA 0
12/26/04@ MIA 10, CLE 7
10/10/93MIA 24, @ CLE 14
09/14/92MIA 27, @ CLE 23
1½5/90MIA 30, @ CLE 13
10/08/89@ MIA 13, CLE 10 (OT)
12/12/88@ MIA 38, CLE 31
11/10/86@ CLE 26, MIA 16
01/04/86@ ClE 26, MIA 16
11/18/79@ CLE 30, MIA 24