Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Four games to go, and it's clear as mud.

After the ups and downs of the sports year in Cleveland, one could say that the Browns season is a relief.  Not only are they getting some respect across the league, but there could be a bona fide superstar hiding right in our backfield.

That is exactly why I thought, at the beginning of the season, that the 5.5 over/under for Browns season wins was an easy "over" bet.  I basically said (to many laughs) that the Browns could go anywhere from 5-11 to 10-6.  Of course, the reason I was confident was a different running back, James Harrison.  And the inkling that Jake Delhomme might just be the veteran we needed.

Of course, both of those assumptions were incorrect.  But yet this season has been a good one, albeit, in typical Cleveland style, one full of stomach-punch moments.  Even after losing their first 2 games--games universally (in Cuyahoga county at least) thought to be "must-win" games to make this a successful season--and then falling to the Ravens in a close game, there was positive signs.  After six weeks, the Browns were 1-5, and yet they had only gotten beat up once, by the Steelers.  Naturally.

Anyone watching those games was thinking one of two things.  (a) They're not that freaking bad, or (b) How many quarterbacks have we started over the last decade, again?  Yes, Jake Delhomme was hurt, Seneca Wallace came in and was okay, but then he got hurt, and the Browns were forced to turn to Colt McCoy.  Anyone who didn't think of Tim Couch's rookie shelling at that point, must be just too young to remember it.  (Can't believe I just typed that.)

Regardless, everyone knows what happened.  A great--but in retrospect a bit fluky--win on the road against the Saints, and then an epic ass-kicking of the New England Patriots.  Immeidately folllowed up by Games We Should Have Won (trademark pending) to the Jets and Jacksonville.  Tough teams, and blown opportunities.

So after 11 games, the Browns had the second toughest schedule in the league, to only Pittsburgh.  Conventional wisdom could say that the Browns could have easily been 6-5 or better, but alas, they sat at 3-7.  Now the easy part of the schedule, right?  Well, yes, but these Browns apparently play down to their competition, and eek out ugly wins versus the Panthers and Dolphins.

So now what?  Four more games to go.  And does anyone have any idea what they will do?

2 crappy teams.   Buffalo and Cincinnati.
2 awesome teams.  Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
It won't surprise me if they win 2 of those games.  Or zero.  Or four.  Not that I have any idea which ones are which.

We'll see.  But you can't say it hasn't been interesting.  And it looks like we'll have Mangini back for another year.  Regardless, the future is bright.  Brighter than the muddy road ahead over the next four games.  Not necessarily treacherous...but you never know.