After center Alex Mack went down with a knee injury on Oct. 12 when the Browns trampled the Steelers, 31-10, Joey Porter's Pit Bulls couldn't help but wonder how his absence would affect the Browns. Guys like Mack aren't replaced easily. When healthy, he is arguably the best center in the NFL.
How key is Mack to the Browns? If there was a player besides Brian Hoyer the Browns couldn't afford to lose, it was Mack. Since Mack's injury, Cleveland is 3-2, with the two losses being to Jacksonville and Houston.
More importantly, as noted by ESPN.com's Pat McManamon, here is how Cleveland's running game has fared since Mack went down:
"The Browns averaged 146. 4 yards per game
and 4.4 yards per carry with Alex Mack,
but 77.2 per game and 2.4 per carry since Mack was hurt."
Say no more. Even with Josh Gordon's return from suspension, the Browns are going to have a tough time, if they can't run the ball.
Add these numbers to the equation: Four of Cleveland's final six games will be on the road, and four of those six games will be against opponents with a record of .500 or better.