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NFL Cleveland BrownsDetroit Lions

NFL Preseason 2014 Preview: Cleveland Browns vs. Detroit Lions

Matthew Stafford Lions

Andrew Weber — USA TODAY Sports

For the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions, Saturday’s NFL preseason opener unveils a new era for both teams.

New Lions coach Jim Caldwell unveils his offensive and defensive schemes in a game where you are not likely to see much action from the starters. Caldwell will likely throw small doses of starters out there like Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford. He knows the fans come to see these players as well in preseason games, even though they are clearly meant to evaluate the talent trying out for roster spots before the first cuts are made.

Caldwell still has some doubters. What about that team of his that went 1-15 with the Indianapolis Colts in 2011? To that I say try playing a season without Peyton Manning at quarterback and see how you do. The reality is Caldwell has a lot of talent, and he just may be the coach to utilize Stafford’s untapped potential. Golden Tate will also see his first Lions action at wide receiver, and the team drafted Eric Ebron at tight end so there are more offensive weapons to utilize.

How about that Brian Hoyer guy at quarterback for the Browns?

Okay, the real story for the Browns is not if Johnny Manziel will play in the first game, it is when he will see action. The fans are liable to go nuts when Manziel touches the ball for the first time as a Browns QB, if only because Manziel is next to LeBron James in terms of fan adoration in Cleveland right at the moment. How will he do? That remains to be seen.

There is no question Cleveland is a better team now than it was a year ago, but issues still remain. For starters, receiver Josh Gordon is out of the lineup and will likely be gone for the first eight games of the season. That robs the Browns of an offensive threat right away. Otherwise, expect to see liberal doses of Miles Austin, Nate Burleson and Ben Tate.

For Burleson, it should be a pretty interesting game as he returns to face the team that let him go via free agency following last season.

The odds are likely you won’t see many starters, which is why I’m keeping the score low. After this game, we likely won’t have answers to too many questions. It will just be nice to see the teams on the field again.

Prediction: Lions 17, Browns 13

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