Continuing our Preview of the 2014 Browns Regular Season
A Look into the Third Quarter of the Campaign: Games 9 -12
At this point of the regular season, coaches (and fans) should pretty much know what to expect from the Browns on a weekly basis. More often than not, amidst a putrid season, the Browns have faltered in late games. Let’s hope that’s not the case in 2014, and the team continues for a rare successful year. Unlike games five through eight, these are primarily on the road – but I would not count the Cleveland Browns out of these contests just yet.
Thursday, November 6th – @ Cincinnati
Known for sloppy play in recent history, it’s hard to believe that the nation will be extremely excited for the Thursday night battle between the Ohio foes. Fans vividly remember the Browns’ game last year, where both starting quarterbacks had major injuries and Brandon Weeden finished out the victorious contest. I’m looking forward to the Browns breaking whatever hex there is at Paul Brown Stadium, but that is a tall order. It may take a huge effort – by the defense or maybe even Johnny Manziel. Current odds of victory (1-10): 3
Sunday, November 16th – vs. Houston
In the first of three games that can go either way, I like that this contest is at First Energy Stadium. A lot of new faces will be on the roster for the guests. Can Jadeveon Clowney become that bookend star opposite J.J. Watt? There’s a good opportunity for that to occur, but on the other side of the ball I’m one for betting against Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, and Tom Savage. A great deal of carries should be given to former Texan Ben Tate this contest. Current odds of victory (1-10): 5
Sunday, November 23rd – @ Atlanta
I firmly believe 2013 was an aberration for the Falcons, who have a tremendous roster – injuries led to their downfall and a multitude of losses. This appears to be an extremely difficult matchup for the Browns and should feature several touchdowns. I am pulling for Joe Haden and the secondary to force a few errant throws by Matt Ryan. There’s a good probability that doing so might be the only way the visitors have a chance to leave the Georgia Dome (for the final time) with a win. Current odds of victory (1-10): 4
Sunday, November 30th – @ Buffalo
An annual matchup between defending cellar dwellers (of their respective divisions), the Browns once again face the Bills. This time Mike Pettine will be on the sidelines of the orange and brown, but with the number of changes that occur annually in the NFL it’s going to be difficult to believe he will have intimate knowledge of his former defense. Both rosters appear to be improved from last season and another tight contest should be expected. Current odds of victory (1-10): 6
Conclusion: Outside of the nationally televised contest to start this stretch, I am firmly on the fence (at least right now) in terms of the Browns winning games. Things could become clearer in the near future – i.e. hot streaks, injuries, etc. – but I am far from guaranteeing anything. It’s safe to say that while all contests in the NFL are important (specifically intra-divisional matchups); securing winnable ones are huge building blocks. That is exactly the scenario for the Browns during games nine through twelve.