By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Jaguars facing resurgent Browns

What: Cleveland Browns (3-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6)

When: 1 p.m.

TV: CBS (Hinesville cable channel 12)

The Cleveland Browns are seeking their best six-game start since 2001 when they enter a soft portion of the schedule Sunday at the winless Jacksonville Jaguars.

After two straight wins, including a 31-10 triumph over Pittsburgh last week, the Browns have set their sights on a trio of games against teams that enter with a combined 1-16 mark. Cleveland often plays that role of doormat, but a solid ground game and the steady hand of quarterback Brian Hoyer has altered the mindset in coach Mike Pettine's debut season.

Hoyer threw for one touchdown and Ben Tate scored twice on the ground in the rout of the Steelers, which was the first game the Browns have played that was not decided by three points or fewer.

The woeful Jaguars had little experience with tight affairs early in the season, but have come closer to breaking through in the last two weeks, losing at home to Pittsburgh by eight points before falling, 16-14, at Tennessee last Sunday. Jacksonville has won 10 of 15 meetings with Cleveland, including a wild 32-28 triumph last season on a last-minute touchdown by Cecil Shorts III.

• About the Browwns — With success comes a different line of questioning in Cleveland, which has seen Hoyer's contract situation bubble up as his win-loss record (6-2 as a starter with the Browns) improves. Hoyer, who ranks eighth in the NFL in passer rating (99.5) and fourth in yards per attempt (8.22), shot down reports on Wednesday that he would not sign a long-term deal with Cleveland as long as rookie backup Johnny Manziel is on the roster. The Cleveland native, who expressed a strong desire to move on from the rumors and focus on football, has thrown one interception in 149 pass attempts this season and will be facing a Jacksonville defense that has made only one pick.

• About the Jaguars — Shorts was a key player in last season's meeting and he figures to be a focus for Cleveland's defense once again. He returned from hamstring issues last week to haul in a career-high 10 catches for 103 yards and, a year after ranking 13th in the AFC in targets, will climb that chart working alongside signal-caller Blake Bortles. The rookie targeted Shorts 16 times while throwing for 336 yards at Tennessee and has averaged 35.8 pass attempts since taking over the starting job.

• Extra points —  Jacksonville's defense has 19 sacks, tied for second in the NFL entering Week 7. … Tate and fellow Browns RBs Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West each have at least 235 yards on the ground. … Jaguars punter Bryan Anger ranks second in the league with an average of 47.3 yards per kick.

• Prediction — Our pick: Browns, 27- 21

Sign up for our e-newsletters