For the first time since 2007 the Browns have a 7-3 record 10 games into the season and bizarrely are in last place in the division with six games left to play. If the season were to end today the Browns would be frozen out of the playoffs and an Atlanta that the Browns beat at the weekend would not only be playing in the playoffs but also have home field advantage. I know the Browns need to earn their spot in the playoff but to miss out while a team that has 4 wins after eleven games gets in is just plain ridiculous. The Browns are still trending up and I don’t see why it will stop.
Josh Gordon makes a one handed catch in the 3rd quarter against the Falcons
One of the main reasons I fell the Browns will continue to succeed is Josh Gordon. The man is an absolute nightmare for opponents as must be accounted for at all times. Based on what he showed Sunday against the Falcons and what we saw last year I think that if he had 500 receiving yards in the six games he was eligible for, it would be a disappointment. Its not just the threat of him on his own though, its what he does for others. With all the attention he attracts on the outside with almost always having a corner and safety on him it opens plenty of opportunities for players like Andrew Hawkins and Miles Austin in one on one situations. It also means that the eight men in the box that the Browns say regularly early in the year are gone which leaves an abundance of running room for Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West on the ground. That’s before you even consider the impact that Jordan Cameron will have when he comes back.
I know people will bring up the fact that Brian Hoyer threw 3INTs against the Falcon but when it came down to that final drive he was clutch. Hoyer and Josh Gordon’s timing was clearly off but that was to be expected in their first game since week 5 of last year. Leading the Browns down to 19 yard line in 39 seconds Hoyer showed how quickly he can put a bad throw behind him and move on. It wasn’t Hoyer’s finest hour but he got the job done with a little bit of help from Mike Smith and his bad clock management. Hoyer also accepted full resoponsiblty after the game for the poor performance saying “Its nice to get a win and be 7-4 but I’ve got to play better… I’ll be dissapointed in my performance for the whole week”.
The only thing standing in the Browns way down the stretch is injuries and there’s quite a number of them. FS Tashaun Gipson was having a Pro bowl worthy season this year and led the league in interceptions with 6 but was injured in a collision with team mate Joe Haden against the Falcons and picked up a MCL injury meaning he probably wont play again this year unless the Browns make it to the playoffs. Gipson is a big loss in coverage as well as he was only allowing a QB rating of 41 when in coverage. MLB and locker room leader Karlos Dansby picked a knee injury two weeks ago against the Texans and missed last week nut is said to be Questionable for this week against Buffalo. OLB Jabaal Sheard was also injured against the Texans and was initially thought to be out for the season but subsequent tests showed it wasn’t as serious as first thought and may be back later in the year. That’s before you mention the leg break All-Pro center Alex Mack picked up in September which has out until next year.
Looking at Browns schedule for the last five games they really control their destiny in division with the exception of Pittsburgh who they would have the tiebreaker over if the finish with the same record. A home game against a Bengals, team they completely dominated in their last match up on Thursday Night Football and a game away to the Ravens are going to be crucial in how the division shapes up. The Browns play a Bills team this week whose playoff hopes are all but gone bar a collapse from the six teams ahead of them in the wild card race and a win over them would be doubly valuable as well as the Browns have their pick in Draft from the Sammy Watkins trade and the more valuable it is the better. The Browns other two games vs Indianapolis and @Carolina aren’t as significant as the others but hold a personal importance to myself as both these teams are supported by friends and win against them and bragging rights would be quite sweet.
The Browns don’t have the easiest schedule left but its not the most difficult either. San Diego still has to play Baltimore, New England, San Francisco, Kansas City and Denver. All these teams have at least 7 wins from a possible 11. The San Diego-Baltimore could be particularly important as whoever loses is probably not going to have enough time to make up the ground they lost. Of all the teams left in wild card race I think the team most likely to make it is the Chiefs and the one least likely that still in the picture would be the Dolphins as even though I like Ryan Tannehill and that team I think its a year too early for them.
I not expecting the Browns to go out and win out but I don’t think them winning 3 out of their last 5 games would be unreasonable. For the first time in more than a decade the Browns could be heading to playoffs if all things go right.