After only fifteen minutes of tinkering, I found the roughly thirty insane things that need to happen, starting with Johnny Manziel looking like a capable NFL quarterback, for the Browns to sneak into the playoffs.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry, but when I saw the Browns weren't technically eliminated, I had to figure out what sorcery could sneak them in. Not that I think there's a chance in hell.
Here's the screenshot and scenario from ESPN's Playoff Machine.
Monday, December 15, 2014
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Browns 27, Bengals 20
Johnny Football lives! With a carefully mild unleashing of Manziel's talent by Shanahan and a stout home defense keeping the Bengals in check, the Browns keep their playoff hopes alive in the final home game of a season that was nothing if not exciting.
Long day at the office for Johnny Football. He tries to do too much and win the game himself. There will be flashes of brilliance but many more WTF moments. But at least he will make the game interesting.
Manziel will bring a much-needed energy to the Browns offense this week against the division leaders. FirstEnergy will be crazy, but it will be up to the Browns to rise to the challenge, something this franchise simply has not be able to do with any consistency since its return.
Manziel Mania fires up not only the offense, but the defense as well. Playoff hopes still alive and well.
Bengals 21, Browns 20
I'm back to being cynical…The Johnny era begins and somehow ends up resembling what we're used to...coming up a little "short".
Browns 28, Bengals 17
The glass-half-empty part of me (which is about 95%) warns all the Manziel gushers that Colt McCoy looked like we finally found our QB when he took over and beat the Patriots, Saints, and almost beat the Jets. In the NFL, once teams have film on you, it's a whole new ballgame. See Derek Anderson, Collin Kaepernick, Vince Young, and (possibly) RG3 as recent examples. Can Johnny last? I hope so, but I'm not going to declare him our football messiah because of 1, 2 or even 3 games.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
For all the crappy results that Browns have had over the last four games, the road to the playoffs is still straight ahead. Despite one offensive touchdown in Brian Hoyer's last 29 drives, it's a new day, and there's someone new in the drivers seat. Flat tire, gas station, sugar in the gas tank, turbocharger, snow tires, use any automotive metaphor you'd like. All we know is that if the Browns could have had even average play at the quarterback position over the past four games, they'd have another one or two wins under our belt, and it wouldn't be crunch time. But it is.
|AP Photo/Don Wright|
Because it looks like if the Cleveland Browns win their last three games, they will very likely be in the playoffs. A quick playing around in the ESPN NFL Playoff Machine gave us a few scenarios, linked to in each.
I ran the Playoff Machine with automatic results based on ESPN Power Rankings as of December 11. That leaves the Browns at 8-8, losing to both the Bengals and Ravens, but beating the Panthers, and finishing dead last in the AFC North, with Pittsburgh as the 4th seed hosting Baltimore as the 5th seed.
If nothing else changes except the Browns win out, they finish at 10-6 and travel to Indy in the first round as the 6th seed. In that scenario Baltimore wins its other two games, finishes 10-6 but loses a tiebreaker to the Browns and the Chargers.
The Browns beating the Ravens means everything. I had trouble finding a way to sneak the Browns in with just 9 wins. If the Steelers lose out, the Bengals sneak in. If the Chargers lose out, the Chiefs sneak in. If some other crazy crap happens, the Browns' loss to the Texans really bites us in the ass, and Houston sneaks in at 9-7.
The other wild card (no pun intended) here is the Miami Dolphins. They don't have the toughest schedule, but their tiebreakers suck. If they can win in New England this weekend, then win home games against the Vikings and Jets, they will be 10-6 and will beat out the expected logjam at 9-7 and even the Browns at 10-6 due to the conference record tiebreaker.
Week 17 might be a doozy. That Chiefs-Chargers game could send one or both home, depending on the Dolphins. If the Browns and Ravens come in at 9-6, the winner could be the 4 seed and the loser could go home. Just so many scenarios out there--the Browns winning out would bring clarity to so much.
Just win, baby.
Monday, December 8, 2014
Everyboody watching the Browns lose an epic all-time (or maybe only for the last couple weeks) crappy game Sunday to the Indianapolis Colts know what a gut punch it was. The crowd was so electric, the defense was playing amazing, the special teams was letting Josh Cribbs he's no longer welcome in the Dawg Pound....
...and what did the offense do? Less than nothing. It's clear to everyone not named Brian Hoyer that something is drastically wrong with the quarterback position, and a change is necessary now. Everybody knows that. Even the sportswriters who last week weren't sure. Even the Hall of Fame Browns lineman who vouched for Hoyer last year. Even the haters who are all over Johnny
Clipboard Football Manziel for showing up a mere two hours before kickoff Sunday. (Wait, what?? Johnny--get your ass to the stadium. What the hell?)
We decided to take a look on Pro Football Reference** at every game since the merger where one team had two or more return touchdowns, like Browns did Sunday. What did we find? Out of the 477 games since the AFL-NFL merger where one team had two touchdowns, the touchdown-returning team lost the game just 68 times, a mere 17% of games. Ya know what, this was actually more than I would have thought. But still rare, and tells you that when your defense or special teams scores two or more touchdowns, and you still lose--your offense must have really struggled. So who played quarterback for these disappointing offenses? We looked at the most recent games.
Kinda a random sample of quarterbacks, some better than average, some Hall of Famers. From Mark Sanchez to Matthew Stafford to Josh Johnson to Jason Campbell (remember this great game last year?) to Aaron Rodgers to Nick Foles this September. In fact, Foles' Eagles' defense/special teams scored three touchdowns, and they still lost.
So what does that tell us? It tells us not much. But in these games, the quarterback almost always had a terrible game. Rodgers was 15-26 for 142, Sanchez 11-35 for 119, Stafford was 10-25 for 151. Brian Hoyer Sunday? 14-31 for 140. I'm sorry Brian, we like you. We really do. And it might not be over. A good quarterback and offense can have a bad day. But in the Browns case, that's not what has happened. It's been a month-plus of bad days, where our QB's rating hasn't broken the speed limit. And the Browns desperately need a change in fortune.
**I pray I crunched the stats right...if not, someone let me know?)
Sunday, December 7, 2014
It really was a tough call. I mean, conference champions Oregon and Alabama, as everyone has said, were automatic. It's basically impossible to rule out an undefeated defending champion in Florida State, even though it's pretty apparent they aren't that good and likely will get killed in the playoffs.
|(Photo via Michael Conroy/AP)|