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Jaguars-Browns matchup of the day: Wednesday

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Posted Nov. 16, 2011 @ 3:08 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Jaguars-Browns game:

Jaguars passing game vs. Browns pass defense

The Jaguars' passing game is last in the NFL both in yards per game and yards per play. Rookie QB Blaine Gabbert has exceeded 200 yards passing once in seven starts.

We studied the numbers, and we asked associate editor Arthur Arkush, who covers the AFC South, for his take on the Jags' passing attack. Here's a closer look at why the Jacksonville passing game has lacked punch:

• The Jaguars have preferred Gabbert make short, quick throws.

•  Gabbert hasn't been accurate, completing just 47.9 percent of his attempts. In fact, he has struggled making shorter throws.

•  Gabbert has faced a good deal of pass-rush pressure, and he hasn't handled it all that well. He has been sacked 21 times.

• TE Marcedes Lewis, who had a career-best 58 catches for 700 yards and 10 TDs in 2010, is having a down year. Lewis has caught just 16-170-0 in eight games. Lewis has three catches of 20 yards or more this season; he had nine in 2010, and he had 11 in '09.

While the Jaguars' pass offense has been the NFL's worst on a statistical basis, the Browns' pass defense can stake a claim to being its best from a yards allowed per game standpoint. Cleveland is surrendering a mere 163.3 passing yards per contest. CB Joe Haden is the star of the group; he has played at a high level all season.

The Browns would seem to have the advantage in this matchup. The question is, can the Jaguars strike unexpectedly with a big play? Note that a Gabbert-to-Jason Hill 74-yard TD gave Jacksonville a fourth-quarter lead vs. Cincinnati in Week Five.

Gabbert has a strong arm, and the Browns must be ready for Jacksonville to take a field-stretching shot every now and then. If the Jaguars can execute such a play, it could make a major difference in what looks to be a closely matched game.

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