Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
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Four weeks ago, the Browns got blown out by what is arguably the worst team in the NFL…the Jacksonville Jaguars. Later that week, I wrote about how that loss was just what the Browns needed to get back on track, bust off a serious winning streak, and end up at 9-3 by the end of November.
Now I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m some sort of expert, but the Browns are 3-0 since that loss…so I think I might be on to something.
The wins may not have been pretty, but this isn’t college football. Wins are wins, and the Browns have done exactly what they have needed to do…win football games.
Right now, thanks to a little help from the New York Jets, the Browns have a 6-3 record and sit at first place in the AFC North Division. To get to 9-3, the Browns have to go through the Texans at home, and then the Falcons and the Bills on the road. And to be completely honest with you, I think they can do it.
Here’s what they need to do to get to 9-3 (and make me look a lot smarter than I really am):
Use Home Field Advantage…
The smartest thing the Browns did when they came back to the NFL was to build their new stadium on the exact site of their old home. As a result, when the wind comes blasting off of Lake Erie, First Energy Stadium (Cleveland Browns Stadium…just sayin’) becomes one nasty place to play football. When the Houston Texans come rolling into town, they’re going to freeze their keisters off. So while the Texans are preoccupied with staying warm, the Browns will need to score touchdowns. For the love of all that is holy, don’t take your foot off the gas now!
Don’t Reinvent The Wheel…
So far this season, they have been without their number one receiver, Josh Gordon, and he is set to make his comeback against the Falcons. The Browns just have to play their game, and keep playing it when Josh Gordon comes back. To be blunt, the Browns need to make sure that Gordon’s comeback helps them rather than hurt them.
Despite numerous injuries to the offensive line, the lack of a leading receiver has forced the Browns to find a running game. Gordon coming back is no reason to go away from that. If anything, Gordon being back on the field gives the Browns all the more reason to stick with the running game. Simply put, Gordon finally gives the Browns a deep threat that defenses need to respect, which will, in turn, open up the running game that much more. There’s no reason to become one dimensional. Run the ball to make the defense cheat, then go deep to make them pay. If neither of those options are working, start up the intermediate passing game with some slants. It’s not that complicated.
If the Browns make Gordon their primary target instead of spreading the ball around like they have been…they’re screwed.
Dictate The Game To Buffalo…
Right now, the Buffalo Bills are a team without an identity. I mean sure, they’ve got Kyle Orton’s creepy mustache to rally around, but that’s about it. That’s precisely my point though. Nobody is looking to Kyle Orton as a long-term solution at quarterback in Buffalo. He’s only there to be a place holder until E.J. Manuel can develop into what they think will be their franchise quarterback. At the same time, I question whether or not E.J. Manuel will ever become that quarterback, and deep down, I think the Bills feel that way as well.
I don’t really know how the Bills have managed to win five games this season, but the Browns need to make sure that they don’t sleep on them. The Browns defense needs to put a lot of pressure on Kyle Orton so that Kyle Orton does what Kyle Orton does under pressure…make bad decisions and throw interceptions.
Offensively, the Browns just need to play their game (see above).
For The Win…
Ultimately, I think the Browns will still complete this winning streak and be sitting at 9-3 at the end of November. As long as they don’t get ahead of themselves, they will be just fine. It will be very difficult for Cleveland to continue that hot streak to close out the season. They face the Colts and the Bengals at home, and then wrap up the season on the road against the Panthers and the Ravens. If they can win half of those games (I predict a loss to the Colts and the Ravens), we’re looking at an eleven win football team that nobody saw coming. They just need to make sure that they don’t go on a losing streak to end the season.
There’s no need to be timid Cleveland fans…the Browns are for real…and it’s about time!