Berea Report: Dare We Talk Playoffs?

Fred Greetham was in Berea on Monday, where the Browns ponder a second half of the season rife with possibilities. First, though, the team has a showdown slated for next Sunday in Pittsburgh...

BEREA - As the Browns ended the first half of the season at 5-3, they find themselves in some unfamiliar territory.

They have a chance to be in the playoff hunt. Right now, the Browns are preparing themselves to travel to play the 5-2 Steelers for a chance to move into first place in the AFC North.

"We're going to go and play a good game," Romeo Crennel said. "Our guys are looking forward to it and we're going to play well."

Other than the division leading Patriots (9-0) and Colts (7-1), the AFC West is led by the Chiefs and Chargers at 4-4. Fighting for two Wild Card spots after the division champions are the Titans (6-2), Jaguars (5-3) and Browns (5-3). The Bills are 4-4 while the Ravens are 4-3.

The Browns play the above mentioned Steelers, Ravens and Bills in the second half of the season with their other games against teams that have a combined record of 12-30: Texans (4-5) , at Cardinals (3-5), at Jets (1-8), at Bengals (2-6) and 49ers (2-6).

We're looking forward to second half of the season and it starts with Pittsburgh.

"This is a different team than the team that played them to start the season," Crennel said. "It's good to be playing for first but still there are eight games to go.

"If we win, we'll have our heads a little above water."

The Browns have lost eight games in a row to the Steelers dating back to Oct. 5, 2003.

 "It just takes one win because people only remember what you did lately," Crennel said.

The Browns have not had as good a record at the midway point of the season since the 1994 season when they were 6-2. They went on to an 11-5 season and clinched a Wild Card spot in the playoffs defeating the Patriots before losing to the Steelers in the Divisional Playoffs.

 "The first half of the season has been better than what it has been in a long time," Crennel said. "Ultimatley, you want to have a winning record and make it to the playoffs. We've put ourselves in a position where there's a lot of optimism."

Crennel did offer this caution.

"I've seen teams in this league go from 8-0 to 8-8 and then you're no where."

Crennel re-iterated that he expects the Browns to play the Steelers tough.

"This team is a different team than the team that played in the opening game," he said. "We didn't know where we were going to be offensively. We thought we would be better defensively.

"(Pittsburgh) beat us but this team is a different team now that has some confidence."

Crennel knows it's not going to be easy the second half of the season, but likes the fact the Browns are in position to make some noise.

"They've continued to fight and not give up," he said. "It's a sign of a team coming together, pulling together.

"We have to continue to do that in the second part of the season. We know it's not the end, because in this business it's how you finish. We're going to continue to try to improve and take these games one at a time."

Notebook

Why No Rush: The Browns weren't able to get to QB Matt Hasselbeck the whole game, even though he threw the ball 47 times. Crennel said the Browns did a little blitzing, but was worried about big plays.

"You can blitz them but then you take a chance of them throwing the ball over your guy's head," he said. "We haven't gotten the type of rush that we've wanted."

The Browns did have one sack by DL Robaire Smith, but it was negated by an offside penalty.

Conversely, Browns QB Derek Anderson threw the ball 48 times and was not sacked.

"Derek continues to make good decisions on the football field and he continues to give us a chance to make plays," Crennel said. "The offensive line did a good job of picking up the coverage they showed us. They gave Derek some time and that helped produce a good effort and helped us win."

Kellen's Day: TE Kellen Winslow had his best day as a pro with 11 receptions for 125 yards.

"The ball came to Kellen and he did a good job," Crennel said. "They were all huge because they were moving the chains. That was a major contribution."

Winslow has been hobbled by shoulder and knee injuries all season, but continues to fight through it.

"Kellen is a competitior," Crennel said. "He wants to be out there and help the team win. That's what he wants to do and he works through a lot to be out there."

Crennel  said Winslow is practicing more this season during the week compared to a year ago.

Crennel said the Seahawks were double covering Braylon Edwards, thus freeing up Winslow.

"They were rolling it a little toward Braylon and that left Kellen in single coverage."

Bentley Update:  The Browns have to make a decision on what to do with OL LeCharles Bentley by Tuesday. Bentley has been on Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) since the preseason. The Browns had three weeks to either activate him or put him on injured reserve or release him. If he resumes practice, the Browns have three weeks to decide to activate him.

"We'll wait until tomorrow," Crennel said.

Injury Update: G Seth McKinney (shoulder) was knocked out of Sunday's game, but no further update was given. He will be updated on Wednesday.

"(Lennie) Friedman stepped in and did a nice job," Crennel said.

Off Monday: Crennel gave the team off Monday for the second week in a row after Sunday's win over the Seahawks.

"At this point of the season, I think it gives their body rest and helps them."


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