Browns-Jaguars Preview

In game one vs. the triumvirate of suck, Browns travel down to Jacksonville.

By now you’ve heard how the Cleveland Browns’ next three opponents are a combined 1-15. A 6-2 record not only seems like a possibility for the Browns, but a damn near certainty.

Unfortunately, nothing is ever certain in the NFL. And we’re talking about the Browns here.

Commence the nervousness.

We shouldn’t be, right? We should be confident that the Browns will roll off three consecutive easy victories.

If anyone has watched a lot of NFL this year, and not just the Browns, by now you’ve seen how teams like the Jets, Jaguars, Raiders and Buccaneers play. The Browns are playing a different level of football. They’re good. The Jets, Jaguars, Raiders and Buccaneers are not good.

But good teams have those head-scratching games. Heck, the Jets almost pulled off a miracle victory over the Patriots on Thursday night. Maybe the Browns had their head-scratcher against Tennessee a few weeks ago before rallying for the victory. Maybe it lies ahead in these next three games.

First up in this triumvirate of suck is a road game at Jacksonville. This team’s fan base consists of 23 people. Their owner looks like a cartoon character. Their stadium has a swimming pool in it in order to entice those aforementioned 23 fans to come to a game. Within five years this team will be in Los Angeles or London.

As for how things are going on-the-field for the Jags this season: Their offense features rookie quarterback Blake Bortles, but they can’t score points (13.5 per game, last in the NFL). Their defense is unable to limit the opponents’ points (30.8, second-to-last in the NFL). Bortles is showing signs of becoming a good NFL quarterback. He’s completed 67.8 percent of his passes, but has seven interceptions to only four touchdowns.

For all the key injuries the Browns have entering this game, their mantra should be this: Keep it simple. The Browns should continue to find success running the football to set up play action passing. The offensive game plan is so simple a high school team could do it, and there is no reason it shouldn’t work against the winless Jaguars.

So long as the Browns don’t come out flat like they did in Pittsburgh or in Tennessee. Bury Jacksonville early and don’t give them any hope of pulling off their first victory.

It would be very Browns to suffer defeat at the hands of the winless Jaguars a week after demolishing their top rival, wouldn’t it? We’ve seen plenty of signs that this isn’t the old Browns in the season’s first five games. They actually look like a competent and confident football team.

Finally, there was off-the-field noise this week regarding Brian Hoyer’s contract. Hoyer tried to put it to rest mid-week, but it lingered. Why worry about contracts or futures right now? Let’s enjoy this journey “one-game-at-a-time,” as the players and coaches like to say.

Hoyer said his focus is on Jacksonville. For the sake of keeping this thing rolling let’s hope that’s true. If he and the team mean what they say, expect an easy Sunday and the third straight victory Monday.

Hmm… that makes me a little nervous.

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