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Mike Pettine wary of Jaguars as potential 'trap game'

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For the Browns to improve on their 3-2 start, the formula must remain the same: Slam people with the ground game.

Behind an overpowering offensive line, Cleveland's 146.4 rushing yards per outing trail only Dallas and Seattle heading into Sunday's meeting with the winless Jacksonville Jaguars.

One year after the team finished 27th on the ground, a brand-new trio of runners -- Ben Tate along with rookies Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West -- have chalked up eight rushing touchdowns in six games. The Browns logged four through all of last season.

The matchup of Cleveland's front five against Jacksonville's defensive line is likely to decide Sunday's result. While the Jaguars rank 18th against the run, most of that damage came over their first three games, which saw Gus Bradley's defense allow an average of 160 yards per tilt. After giving up just 42 yards to the Chargers and 70 to the Titans in recent weeks, Jacksonville now faces a Browns line stripped of Pro Bowl center Alex Mack.

"There are reasons why there are people out there saying that this is probably the week for Jacksonville," Browns coach Mike Pettine said, per the Akron Beacon Journal. "All the circumstances where you would say this is a trap game and I think as a staff we're just as curious to see. ... We're hopeful and confident that we'll handle it the right way, but this is a big test for us."

Browns play-caller Kyle Shanahan knows shutting down the run will be a focus for Jacksonville, telling ESPN.com: "No matter what you do good, eventually a team will stop that. There's no doubt about that, and you've got to be able to counteract that. Once you can do that, then you can come back to what you want to do."

If he's forced to change course, Shanahan can point to another strong matchup: Brian Hoyer, Cleveland's upstart passer, has a league-leading 55.8 completion percentage on passes of 15-plus yards through the air. Jacksonville's defense, meanwhile, has allowed 22 completions of 20 or more air yards, the most in the NFL.

If Pettine and friends can make the most of this juicy tale of the tape, the suddenly frisky Browns will reach 4-2 for the first time since 2001.

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