This is a tougher-than-it-looks game for Cleveland. Yes, the Panthers have won but one game this season, and their last four defeats have been by 10 points or more. But they were competitive in their most recent losses at Tampa Bay and vs. Baltimore, and with QB Jimmy Clausen returning to the lineup, they could be ready to play their best game in some time.
I'm not sure what to expect from the Browns, who have lost two close games in a row. They were in a nice rhythm on offense with rookie Colt McCoy at quarterback, but he's likely out with an ankle injury, and Jake Delhomme will start. This was supposed to be Delhomme's job all season, and he's surely capable of proving an adequate replacement for McCoy, but let's be honest: Delhomme has had a habit of turning the ball over — he's thrown four picks in six quarters this year. What's more, he has to get back into rhythm with an offense that hasn't planned for him to be under center since Week One.
If the Browns handle the Panthers with ease, I will be surprised. Cleveland is the better team, but it needs to shake off two tough losses and work a new quarterback into the lineup. And I consider the latter point a hurdle to overcome, for Delhomme just hasn't had that much practice work since the season opener.
However, I look for Delhomme to do just enough against his old team to lead Cleveland to the win. Clausen, who showed some improvement vs. Tampa Bay two weeks ago, has the tough task of solving Rob Ryan's defense. Advantage Delhomme, whose familiarity with the Carolina defense can't hurt.
Prediction: Browns 16, Panthers 13