1. The Washington Redskins announced Saturday night that standout quarterback Robert Griffin III, who sprained his right knee last week, is expected to be replaced in the starting lineup today by fellow rookie Kirk Cousins. The Browns' defense prepared last week as if RG3 would start, so it must adjust and turn its focus to Cousins, a fourth-round pick. The Browns don't know much about Cousins, but it's safe to bet that pressuring a rookie making his first career start on the road will be vital.
2. Look for Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden to try to exploit a Redskins secondary that ranks 31st against the pass (289.3 yards per game). The season has been a tale of all or nothing for the Redskins’ defense, which is very good against the run, but porous against the pass. That could favor Josh Gordon, who leads all NFL rookie receivers with 732 yards and is tied for first in receiving touchdowns with five.
3. The Redskins’ run defense ranks seventh in the league, limiting opponents to 98.8 yards per game. It is a tough unit led by linebacker London Fletcher, a Cleveland native who seems to get better with age. Trying to gain traction on the ground could be tough for Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson, who has already been slowed the past two months while playing through a rib injury. In last week’s victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, Richardson gained just 42 yards on 18 carries (2.3 average). He had two 1-yard touchdowns.
4. Returner Josh Cribbs has spent the week pumped to play what could be his final home game for the Browns against the team he grew up rooting for in his native Washington, D.C. With plenty of family and friends in town for the game, expect Cribbs to play with passion. Redskins kicker Kai Forbath has had problems producing enough depth on his kickoffs, which could give Cribbs the break he needs to return one for a touchdown.
5. The Browns must end their recent trend of falling behind early in games. In two of their past three games, the Browns fell behind on the first series. On Nov. 25, the offense spotted the Pittsburgh Steelers an early touchdown on an interception returned by linebacker Lawrence Timmons. Last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, running back Jamaal Charles dashed 80 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.