Rounding out the Final Four Contests of the 2014 Schedule
Previewing Games 13 – 16:
Assuming the four opponents play to their capabilities, what a difficult way to finish off the regular season for the Cleveland Browns. In it, they face three teams coming off playoff appearances and the other is a perennial Super Bowl contender. It’s hard to predict (right now) whether the Browns will need to go 3 – 1 or 4 – 0 here to clinch a spot in the playoffs, or whether these matchups will, once again, be irrelevant. Nonetheless, let’s see what the squad is up against.
Sunday, December 7th – vs. Indianapolis
Outside of a Peyton Hillis-led drubbing of Kerry Collins and the Colts in 2011, the home team has gone down in defeat each time they faced the Colts since 1999. Battling Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck are not simple tasks, but the Browns were due for at least one upset, right? Hopefully 2014 is the year where the team comes together and finally
takes down the blue and white. Current odds of victory (1-10): 4
Sunday, December 14th – vs. Cincinnati
As much as the visiting team struggles in this rivalry, the home team should be attributed to doing its job as well. Brian Hoyer was the hero last time the Bengals visited First Energy Stadium in 2013. Should we expect a repeat performance? I believe that Johnny Manziel will be under center for this contest, but I have been known to be wrong (from time to time). Again, I might be mistaken, but a win here should be ripe for the picking. Current odds of victory (1-10): 6
Sunday, December 21st – @ Carolina
A rare matchup between inter-conference foes is the scenario for both the Panthers and Browns. It’s unlikely that the home squad will repeat their 12 – 4 record from a year ago; but they should still remain a solid bunch. Cam Newton is a dynamic quarterback who can give defenses fits – especially if they are not properly prepared. I cannot wait to see what coach Pettine draws up as his game plan for this one. Current odds of victory (1-10): 4
Sunday, December 28th – @ Baltimore
Should the Ravens clinch a berth in the playoffs before kickoff (via wildcard or division crown); do not expect a “let up” for their guests. The Browns will have to fight tooth and nail in this contest if they want to spur an upset. Like many away venues, this has been a cruel one over the years. I can only hope that lady luck is on the side of the orange and brown – the way it was for Phil Dawson’s game-tying kick in 2007. Current odds of victory (1-10): 2
Conclusion: Many Browns fans are trained to be pessimistic, largely to the team’s underperformance and overall bad football. While I have been accustomed to that type of thinking, I sense 2014 can be different. Despite feeling less than 50/50 in three of these four contests right now, one never knows what can happen when the game is actually played. I believe the Browns make the leap to the playoff hunt this season and what occurs in December will decide the team’s fate (I’m praying for a miracle).