The Cleveland Browns rattled off four wins to end a tumultuous 2009 season. Prior to the four wins the Browns only other win was one of the least entertaining football games I’ve ever watched in my NFL-watching history as the Browns beat the Bills 6-3 in some ridiculous wind. Still, the Browns seemed headed in the right direction as they beat the Steelers, Chiefs, Raiders and Jaguars by pounding the ball and riding Jerome Harrison and Josh Cribbs. Mangini kept his job and when the schedule for 2010 came out, Browns fans started counting up wins and losses. Surely the Browns would be able to handle an easy early schedule featuring the Buccaneers who went 3-13 in 2009 and Chiefs who went 4-14.
The Browns came out and dropped both of those first two games by five total points and all of a sudden even the most modest of expectations for the Browns were dashed completely and totally. You can call WFNY a homer site if you want because most of our writers took the over when the line came out at 5.5. At the same time, to a man, our expectations of over were all for 6 wins. That’s not important though. What’s important is that the Browns lost two of the games that many (including many at this site) had counted up as Ws prior to the season.
Remembering back, the Browns lost their first three to Tampa, KC, and Baltimore before beating the Bengals with Seneca Wallace and Peyton Hillis even as the Browns gave up 222 yards receiving to Terrell Owens. The Browns lost to the Falcons and Steelers before they shocked the world. The Browns beat the Saints and Patriots by double digits in back-to-back games (with a bye week in between.) Then the Browns had the Jets on the edge of a cliff before eventually succumbing to self-inflicted wounds in overtime. The Browns won two more games before dropping four straight to end the year.
Five wins in the books. Anyone who took the over is thought to be dumb. Forget that the random path that took the Browns to those five wins was a unique path. Forget it all, because the Browns have another hard schedule coming up and they didn’t get Robert Griffin III or Pierre Garcon of even Josh Morgan. They bid farewell to Peyton Hillis too.
LOSS – Sun., Sept. 9 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – FOX 1:00 p.m.
LOSS – Sun., Sept. 16 at Cincinnati Bengals – CBS 1:00 p.m.
LOSS – Sun., Sept. 23 BUFFALO BILLS – CBS 1:00 p.m.
LOSS – Thur., Sept. 27 at Baltimore Ravens – NFLN 8:20 p.m.
LOSS – Sun., Oct. 7 at New York Giants – CBS 1:00 p.m.
LOSS – Sun., Oct. 14 CINCINNATI BENGALS – CBS 1:00 p.m.
LOSS – Sun., Oct. 21 at Indianapolis Colts – CBS 1:00 p.m.
LOSS – Sun., Oct. 28 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS – CBS 1:00 p.m.
LOSS – Sun., Nov. 4 BALTIMORE RAVENS – CBS 1:00 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 11 BYE WEEK
LOSS – Sun., Nov. 18 at Dallas Cowboys – CBS 1:00 p.m.
LOSS – Sun., Nov. 25 PITTSBURGH STEELERS – CBS 1:00 p.m.
LOSS – Sun., Dec. 2 at Oakland Raiders – CBS 4:15 p.m.
LOSS – Sun., Dec. 9 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – CBS 1:00 p.m.
LOSS – Sun., Dec. 16 WASHINGTON REDSKINS – FOX 1:00 p.m.
LOSS – Sun., Dec. 23 at Denver Broncos – CBS 4:05 p.m.
LOSS – Sun., Dec. 30 at Pittsburgh Steelers – CBS 1:00 p.m.
0-16 here we come. Right?
Look, I can’t sit here and tell you that I am confident in the Browns with this schedule. There are more questions than answers for the team this year. I know this because they’re the team that I follow most closely. You don’t think there are plenty of questions in those other cities? The Cowboys went 8-8 last year including losses to the Arizona Cardinals and two losses to the Eagles. Speaking of the Eagles, they went 8-8, but they were woeful following a loss to the Seahawks that left them 4-8 on December 1st.
That same Seahawks team wasn’t able to get Marshawn Lynch on the field to face the Browns and then lost 6-3. After losing to the Browns, the Seahawks (with Lynch back in the lineup) followed that up with losses to the Bengals and Cowboys before beating the Ravens 22-17. Nobody could have predicted that four game stretch.
The point here is that yes the Browns’ schedule looks tough. The Browns look overmatched to us because our memories of last season are of Ls and not Ws. But let’s not be overly simplistic here. The Browns are a young team that is supposed to be getting better not worse. Yes, it feels very scary right now as the Browns haven’t added any free agents other than keeping pieces of the same team that disappointed last year. Even if you are scared, at least admit that you willingly have blinders on and you’re not really thinking about every other team on the schedule in detail.
Have the Steelers gotten better or worse? Will Mike Wallace be on the team? How about the Bengals who swapped out Benjarvus Green-Ellis for Cedric Benson? Did that make them better? The Buffalo Bills added the biggest free agent to their defense, but let’s not forget that even though I like Ryan Fitzpatrick as a QB, he did have eight games last year with multiple interceptions. Any team can lose when the QB gives the ball away two or more times in a game.
Point being that while it is possible for the Browns to go 0-13 to start the year, it is silly to say it. It is also silly to look any deeper than to say that it is a tough schedule. The Browns will probably lose more than they win. They will probably surprise everyone with a victory they shouldn’t get. They’ll probably surprise everyone with a loss that should be a win.
Oh wait. Is that even possible when they’re supposed to lose every game?