(What, they've already won the Lombardi, haven't they?)
- OBR EXCLUSIVE: I just received a text from someone inside the Browns' locker room, and he was kind enough to share what Romeo Crennel had to say to his charges before they took the field for pregame warm-ups: "All right people, we got two hours 'till game time, let's all gather 'round. I'm not much for giving inspirational addresses, but I'd just like to point out that every newspaper in the country has picked us to get our asses handed to us this afternoon. The local press seems to think that we'd save everyone the time and trouble if we just went out and shot ourselves. Me, I'm for wasting sportswriters' time. So I figured we ought to hang around for a while and see if we can give 'em all a nice big shitburger to eat!"
- I really get that the Cowboys are an uber-talented football team. I really get they are loaded for bear and very much in the Lombardi hunt. I get that the Browns are/were banged up for the vast majority of pre-season, and didn't look too good even when they were relatively healthy. I get all of that, I really do. But for the media to just hand this game to the Cowboys the way they have does a tremendous disservice to all of the strides the Browns made last year, and all of the positive personnel moves they made this off-season. Doesn't mean I'm gonna pick ‘em, though.
- There has been a lot of attention paid – and rightly so – to the Browns' secondary, in particular the back-ups. But little has been said regarding the Cowboys' own issues on the same unit. Starting corner Terence Newman is out with a groin injury and will be replaced by Pacman "Adam" Jones, who's spent more time the last year and a half covering strippers with green rain than he has receivers with blanket coverage. Yes, he's a very talented football player, but he's also a rusty one as well. Exploit that match-up.
- By any means necessary, the Browns must – must – generate some type of pass rush, while at the same time maintaining containment, in order to prop up that weak secondary. It doesn't matter where it comes from either. Take it to Tony Romo, and take your chances that way. The alternative would not be pretty.
- Mark it down: Brodney Pool will be missed more than people are willing to admit if he's not able to go, which seems very likely. While he's far from the best safety in football, the drop-off in talent from him to his replacement Mike Adams is precipitous and potentially fatal. Then you factor in the drop-off from Adams to Terry Cousin as the nickel back, and you have a trickle-down effect that spells trouble for the entire defense.
- Yes, the loss of Pool would be an even bigger loss than Jamal Lewis. The duo of Jerome Harrison and Jason Wright have the talent to at least come close to matching the production of the running back they would be replacing. Hopefully, it won't come to that and the 1K back will be on the field for the opener. But his loss for one game wouldn't have near the effect that the loss of one of the starters in the secondary would should it come to that.
- Call me a Quinn lover, or a DA hater, or whatever, but one thing is certain in my mind: Derek Anderson scares the living hell out of me. I'm talking cold sweats, the shakes, the whole horror movie enchilada. I literally shudder whenever I attempt to project how he will perform this season. Will he be the good DA of the first nine games, or the bad DA of the final seven? Hopefully he proves me wrong, but I get the feeling we'll be seeing more of the latter than the former.
- I cannot begin to tell you how much I'm looking forward to seeing Joe Thomas going up against fellow Pro Bowler Demarcus Ware. (And I would make an attempt to try to tell you how much, but that would involve work that I'm just not prepared to do right now.) Thomas is one of the few tackles in the league who has the athleticism to match what Ware brings to the table. Thomas being able to handle Ware – along with Kevin Shaffer on the opposite side of the line doing the same with Greg Ellis – will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game.
- Why am I not the least bit concerned about Seth McKinney being "forced" into the starting lineup in place of the injured Rex Hadnot? Oh yeah, now I remember: Hadnot was not one of the top three linemen on the worst offensive line in football last year. The Browns lose absolutely nothing with the veteran McKinney manning the inside of the right side of the line. Shaffer and McKinney performed very well in the early part of 2007; I expect much of the same in '08, at least until Ryan Tucker returns from injury.
- I could listen to Jimmie Johnson and Barry Switzer talk football all day long. One of the things on my wish list would be for either the Browns to move to the NFC, or FOX to take over the AFC television package.
- There are two things I really, really enjoy about Jessica Simpson. I'll let you guess as to what they are and where they are located.
- Like it or not, the real season starts next Sunday night. While a win – hell, even a good, competitive showing – would be nice today, this afternoon simply doesn't carry the playoff and divisional implications like it will seven days from today… Oh hell, who am I kidding. This game means everything. Let's get it on!!!
LAST CALL: Cowboys 38, Browns 31 – I started writing this 12-pack on Thursday, and this was literally the ninth time I have changed my prediction. Just too many issues in the secondary – and too much talent opposite them – for the Browns to overcome.