For what it’s worth, the Cleveland Browns (0-12) are not the first football team to record twelve straight losses in 2017. The UTEP Miners also dropped an 0-12 this year, but their season has mercifully ended. For Cleveland, four contests remain beginning with this Sunday’s home tilt with the Green Bay Packers (6-6).
Are the Browns Favored?
Negative. Cleveland will once again play as home underdogs, this time by three points. The Browns, still winless in December, are somehow not inspiring confidence among the bookmakers. Go figure.
The Packers lead the all-time series 12-7, including the 1965 season’s NFL Championship Game. Green Bay has won the past two contests and four of the past five with the most recent Browns victory coming in early 2005. Cleveland hasn’t beaten Green Bay at home since October 18, 1992. Kevin Mack ran for two scores that day as Bill Belichick led the Browns to a victory.
The Packers’ lackluster season can mainly be attributed to Aaron Rodgers’ Week 6 shoulder injury. After a 4-1 start, Rodgers suffered an injury which has started a domino effect leading to the Pack’s recent 2-5 run. The past three weeks have been mostly unkind to the Green and Gold – they were blanked at home against Baltimore and beaten by a last second field goal in the Steel City before righting the ship a little bit against Tampa Bay in overtime.
The standings are not favorable for the Packers. Minnesota (10-2) leads the NFC North by four games over the Pack and Detroit Lions (also 6-6). Currently the first wild card spot would go to Seattle (8-4) and the second to Carolina (8-4). Two games back with four to go, Green Bay has their work cut out for them. The good news for them is that quarterback Aaron Rodgers could potentially return as soon as next week. The good news for the Browns is that Brett Hundley will be under center by the lake front.
A former UCLA Bruin, Hundley went to Green Bay in the fifth round of the 2015 Draft. His first chance at starting has not gone as hoped – 126-of-206 passing for 1,269 passing, 5 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. He has looked competent at moments, but Rodgers’ shoes are clearly too big for him to fill, at least right now. A stable of running backs take the handoffs including Aaron Jones (390 yards, 4 TD), Jamaal Williams (337 yards, 3 TD), and Ty Montgomery (273 yards, 3 TD). The Packers’ receiving corps remains as potent as ever. Jordy Nelson has 43 receptions for 410 yards and 6 scores, but Davante Adams leads all comers with 59 catches, 744 yards, and 7 touchdowns.
Josh Gordon Report
Eagle-eyed fans may have noticed a new player setting up out wide for the Browns last week. Oft-suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon finally returned to the field and recorded four catches for 85 yards. There were a handful of passes that Gordon was unable to haul in, but considering how long he had been away and the amount of rust that could have accumulated he by no means looked out of place on an NFL field. Under contract through 2018, Gordon has four more games to properly begin his comeback and build momentum for next season.
If variety truly is the spice of life then no owner is more alive than Browns owner Jimmy Haslam. On Thursday the club announced Sashi Brown’s dismissal and the hiring of new general manager John Dorsey. As the site otherwise detailed, Dorsey worked most recently for the Kansas City Chiefs and will serve the same role in Cleveland. Browns fans may not feel his impact on the 2017 season, but before long it will become clear how Dorsey intends to run the team moving forward — from head coach Hue Jackson on down.
It’s almost over, folks. After last year’s franchise worst 1-15 campaign, many hoped the Browns would show some discernible signs of progress in 2017. One would need to truly squint to find such progression, but the chance remains to at least match last season’s win total. No one would have expected the Packers to be a “beatable” opponent when the season started, but once again Cleveland will have a chance to claim a victory in December.