Looking at the Next Quarter of the 2014 Campaign
Games 5 – 8 and a Sneak Peek:
On paper, the next four games for the Cleveland Browns appear to be more winnable than the first four (of the 2014 campaign). It is still the NFL however, and anything can occur during the three-hour contests. Let’s take an early glance at a portion of the schedule that will be played primarily at First Energy Stadium.
Sunday, October 12th – vs. Pittsburgh
Will this contest feature a different starting quarterback for the Browns than the first contest against the Steelers? Could Manziel start the opener and Hoyer get the nod on October 12th? It is extremely early, but speculation will run rampant from now until training camp wraps up. I’m in the camp of playing the guy who can get it done and beat the team just to the east of Cleveland. I’ll let coach Pettine and Kyle Shanahan determine exactly who that is. Current odds of victory (1-10): 6
Sunday, October 19th – @ Jacksonville
A perennial sub-.500 franchise, the Jaguars actually closed out their 2013 campaign rather well (going 4-4 during the final eight contests). The question then remains whether that momentum can be carried into this season. The team is relying on Chad Henne as their quarterback and are content with letting rookie Blake Bortles hold a clipboard this fall. However, as we all know in Cleveland, things have a way of not going according to script. You can bet that the Browns’ defense will be salivating if Bortles is under center during this matchup. Current odds of victory (1-10): 8
Sunday, October 26th – vs. Oakland
Another contest against a team that does a lot of losing presents itself here (for the Browns). Additionally, rookie signal caller Derek Carr might be playing should Matt Schaub perform the way he did in 2013. Nothing is guaranteed in this league (as the Browns were a Fozzy Whittaker muffed onside kick away from beating the Patriots last
year), but this is one game I firmly believe the Browns should come out ahead. I’m hoping the home stadium is rocking if the opponent, traveling three time zones over, succumbs to misfortune. Current odds of victory (1-10): 9
Sunday, November 2nd – vs. Tampa Bay
Before the season begins, the visiting team appears as a group of pushovers. However, I feel they will surprise a vast majority and give the Browns a difficult game. Lovie Smith will have their defense ready to shut down the running game and limit whoever is under center. The winner of the Josh McCown/Mike Glennon quarterback derby might have a strong outing in this contest. Turnovers will likely be the difference between a narrow win and a crushing defeat. Current odds of victory (1-10): 6
Conclusion: Rightly or wrongly, my confidence in the team exceling is rather high during games five through eight. Hopefully, this is the portion where the Browns either make up ground or (somehow) distance themselves from the AFC North. Going winless or just securing one victory in this portion of the schedule would be extremely deflating
and something this franchise does not need.