The good news is the Cleveland Browns (0-8) have finished half their season. The bad news is, there are another eight games to go, beginning with a home game against the Dallas Cowboys (6-1) this Sunday. With the Indians season ending on a sour note, the Browns are not exactly the most reassuring of backup plans, but let’s look into the match up and see if they have any surprises in store.
Are the Browns favored?
Surely you jest. The Cowboys are seven point favorites, which considering the teams’ respective pedigrees feels pretty generous to the home team. For the ninth straight week, the Brownies will play as underdogs.
The Browns lead the all-time series 17-13, but the Cowboys possess a three game win streak in the series – 2004, 2008, and 2012. Cleveland has not beaten Dallas in professional football since 1994. Let that sink in for a moment. On December 10, 1994 the Browns defeated the Cowboys 19-14 in Texas Stadium. Cleveland kicker Matt Stover booted four field goals and Michael Jackson caught a two-yard touchdown from Vinny Testaverde. Who scored Dallas’ two touchdowns? Emmitt Smith. He caught a 7-yard TD pass from Troy Aikman and rushed for a four-yard score. I know the Browns were not playing for a few seasons, but it bodes poorly for a team’s fortune if they have not beaten a league opponent in 22 years.
Barry Church (S) – Toledo: The Pittsburgh native has played for the Cowboys since 2010. He was a four years tarter at Toledo and finished his Rocket career with 354 tackles and nine picks. He was named to first-team All-MAC all four years of his college career.
Ezekiel Elliott (RB) – Ohio State: The King of the Crop Top is running circles around opponents in his rookie campaign. The Cowboys drafted him fourth overall and he will certainly be considered for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. As a Buckeye, Elliott anchored the 2014 National Championship winning team. He earned the Archie Griffin Award in 2014, Big Ten Player of the Year in 2015, and second-team All-American as a junior.
In August it seemed the Cowboys’ season would be over before it began. Longtime quarterback Tony Romo suffered a back injury in the preseason and the reigns to the offense fell to rookie Dak Prescott from Mississippi State. No one knew what to expect from the rook, but he has steered the team to a 6-1 record as well as 144-for-221 passing, 1773 yards, and 9 touchdowns against 2 interceptions. As a team Dallas ranks 7th offensively (26.9 ppg), and 7th defensively (18.6 ppg). Rookie Ezekiel Elliott has rushed for 799 yards and five touchdowns.
At this point in the season, it is hard to make an argument for watching the Browns. One’s best bet might be to focus on individual players. On offense I recommend newly activated wide receiver Corey Coleman. The Baylor product broke his hand after Week 2 and is expected to return to the field on Sunday. He impressed in limited time pulling down seven receptions for 173 yards and two touchdowns. The wideout spot has been a weak point for Cleveland for several years, but a strong second half from Coleman can help the front office determine how highly that position should rank on the team’s off season list of needs.
“Any Given Sunday.” More than an Al Pacino movie, that football phrase/cliché emobodies the idea that parity is real and on any given Sunday the worst team in the league can beat the best team in the league. Well, Cleveland is going to put that theory to the test this weekend. The SS Cleveland Browns is steering toward an impenetrable iceberg with “0-16” carved on it. There might be no stopping it, but Hue Jackson and the boys will give it the old college try this weekend. If nothing else, a win here would leave Cowboys fans scratching their heads for a long time.