Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Panthers-Browns game.
Browns RB Peyton Hillis vs. the Panthers' pass defense
Yes, Hillis has had a remarkable season as a runner, racking up 774 yards and eight TDs on 173 carries. Pencil him in for around 20 carries on Sunday.
However, he's also likely to make an impact in the passing game, too. He's been targeted 50 times this season, snagging 40 receptions for 351 yards and two touchdowns. He caught six passes for 95 yards and a touchdown vs. Jacksonville, including a season-long 47-yard reception. On the play, Hillis ran a short out route. LB Justin Durant couldn't stay with Hillis, and when CB Derek Cox missed the tackle, Hillis had clear sailing until he was knocked out of bounds by S Courtney Greene.
On Hillis' TD, he was kept into block on a play-action pass and turned around in time to present himself as a target for Colt McCoy, who kept the play alive long enough. Hillis did the rest, running into the endzone.
The Panthers faced a very good pass-catching back last week in Baltimore's Ray Rice, who caught six passes for 66 yards (seven targets). It figures to primarily fall to the Panthers' linebackers and defensive backs to cover Hills, who's athletic and imposing. In the LB corps, Jon Beason (middle) is the standout, with James Anderson (strong side) having a fine season. In the secondary, young, athletic safeties Charles Godfrey and Sherrod Martin must be sure tacklers to bring down the powerful Hillis.