Browns-Buccaneers Preview

The third and final game against the triumvirate of suck is here. Can FirstEnergy’s friendly confines continue?

No two NFL games are alike.

That’s what kills me about Instant Overreaction Monday. Win a game: Talk playoffs. Lose a game: Fire everybody.

Think back to that first Thursday night game in which the Seattle Seahawks throttled the Green Bay Packers 36-16. The following day the Seahawks were going 16-0 and repeating as Super Bowl champions. Hell, we might as well not even play the NFL season.

The Seahawks enter this week 4-3, the same record as your Cleveland Browns.

Think about that for a second. It’s only the midway point of the season and the Browns already matched entire season win totals of three of the last four seasons.

After opening with four straight games that were decided in the game’s final seconds, the Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers by 21 points Oct. 12.

Overreaction Monday: Playoff talk.

A week later, the Browns laid a clunker down in Jacksonville.

Overreaction Monday: Same old Browns. Put in Johnny.

Last Sunday, the Browns took care of the winless Oakland Raiders at home. It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but it ended with a ‘W.’

Overreaction Monday: Meh. Hey, LeBron returns Thursday! Also, put in Johnny.

Again, no two games are alike. All wins won’t be pretty, but isn’t it nice to win?

The Browns final game during their three-game triumvirate of suck has arrived and finishes at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs are 1-6, with their only win in almost miracle fashion in Pittsburgh on Sept. 28. I want to pause here to LOL at this, but that’s bad karma.

The Browns are 3-1 at home. This week, the team has talked about FirstEnergy Stadium being a true home field advantage. Like the winning, this is a welcomed departure from the norm.

After a poor first half last week, the Browns were able to impose their will on the Raiders in the second half and send the fans home happy. The Browns’ running game got going (a little bit) and touchdowns (a couple) were finally scored.

But the biggest surprise was the play of the defense. Yes, Oakland is bad, but the Browns defense is statically one of the worst in the NFL. Entering this week, the Browns are 29th in total defense yards allowed per game. Tampa Bay is dead last.

Last week, the Browns held Oakland to 71 yards on 22 carries. In the previous six games, the Browns defense allowed 127, 174, 160, 149, 138 and 185 yards rushing to their opponent.

Yes, the offense played poorly in Jacksonville, but the defense also allowed 185 yards rushing that took the pressure off the Jags’ rookie quarterback Blake Bortles. Last week, the Raiders needed rookie Derek Carr to try and win the game. Advantage: Browns.

By now you’ve seen how Tampa Bay lost its overtime game last week to Minnesota. It was a tough way to lose and the thinking is a wounded Bucs team comes to Cleveland like lambs to the slaughterhouse. But as we’ve seen in the case of the Jacksonville game, there are no sure things in the NFL.

If the Browns defense can find some consistency in its run and pass defense, chances are the Browns offense should be able to move the ball against this Bucs defense.

It’s two games in five days for the Browns, as they play their only primetime game Nov. 6 at Cincinnati. This is a banged-up team, but a team that showed it can grind out a victory last week.

As we know, while this Sunday’s performance simply won’t be a repeat of last week, the outcome can be and reaching the halfway point of the season at 5-3 should be all the motivation this team and the fans need for an electric afternoon on the lakefront.

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