Back on October 22nd, I wrote during the Browns bye week that the 3-3 Browns would be 7-4 after the Houston game after wins against St. Louis, Seattle, Baltimore and Houston. The only loss I predicted would come at the hands of the Steelers.
Well, after game eleven I'm right on target. Give that man the lottery pool money; he's going to pick the Powerball numbers!!
All kidding aside, I hope my look ahead holds true because after week six, I saw 10-6 and the playoffs for this Browns squad.
They're winning games that they're supposed to win and seemingly getting better each week, especially on defense.
It was an inspired performance today that held what is a decent Houston offense to just 17 points.
I'm a little concerned that they keep losing defensive linemen (not exactly a strength) but gratified that the defense as a whole really came up big at home today.
Brandon McDonald? I vaguely remember his name coming across the screen in April when I was half asleep on the couch. The rookie CB certainly put the Texans wide receivers to sleep today, especially Pro Bowler Andre Johnson.
His play resembled that of the entire D. We know they aren't an elite unit but they really stepped up and played better than I've seen all season.
And how about the Cleveland offense? Today wasn't a shootout as much as it was a "smashout." They played some seious smashmouth football today and demoralized the Houston defense.
OC Rob Chudzinski seems determined not to let the running game falter and take a backseat to the Browns passing offense and it looks like he's succeeding. If teams have to continue to respect Jamal Lewis and Jason Wright like Houston had to do today, then watch out for the Browns receivers in their next 5 contests. Some passing lanes should REALLY open up as opponents gear up to shut down Cleveland runners.
Speaking of the Browns passing game there were throws out there today by Derek Anderson that Charlie Frye simply doesn't make. The TD passes to Winslow and Edwards were perfectly placed balls with lots of zip. Throw Jurevicius into the mix with the way Anderson is throwing and you have an extremely dangerous passing offense (ok, my "no duh" observation of the week).
The only thing that concerns me is a tendency for Braylon Edwards to lose concentration in the intermediate passing game. I'm not hammering Edwards because without him the team wouldn't be 7-4, but he's starting to lapse into some bad habits that were apparent last year, namely trying to catch the ball with his body instead of his hands in traffic. I don't notice it all the time but when you see Winslow or Jurevicius out there they extend their arms and use their hands to catch while Edwards tends to let the ball get to his body. You rarely see drops by Winslow and Jurevicius while Edwards has lately seemed to have one or two a game. So far it hasn't hurt the team but every win is more and more crucial in the last 5 games and therefore every yard and drive is even that much more important.
Well, 7-4, how about it?
The Browns have the Cardinals, Jets, Bills, Bengals and 49ers coming up and their task is to go 3-2 over that stretch to hit that magical 10-6 mark I talked about at the beginning of the article. I'm not sure 10-6 will be good enough for the playoffs in the wild AFC but it should be.
If you can't go 3-2 playing those sorry excuses for NFL franchises (this year anyway) then you don't deserve to be in the playoffs.
Here's hoping the Browns don't let up on the throttle.