5 Days, 2 Games, 0 Room For Error

If the Browns are serious about clawing back into the playoff race, the next seven days are key...

An upcoming five-day stretch could determine how the Browns' season goes.

The Browns are preparing for two games at home, Sunday against Baltimore and Thursday night against Denver, with the chance to right their season.

If they win both, they would be 5-4 and officially back in the playoff hunt. And they would have generated a ton of momentum for themselves for the second half of the season.

The team's 0-3 start put the Browns in a deep hole. They're now on the verge of getting out of it, thanks to three wins in their last four games.

The offense has found itself, the defense is buoyed by the play of Shaun Rogers and the Browns finally are starting to look like the team they were predicted to be when the season started.

They had the same chance in Washington but did not follow up. They then recovered against Jacksonville.

The opportunity in front of them now is even better, with two home games in less than a week's time.


--QB Derek Anderson seems to have settled into things more. His play in two of the last three weeks was strong, and though he can still play better, it seems as if he has been calmed by the confidence the team has shown him. Not once have the Browns indicated they were considering benching Anderson for Brady Quinn.

--RB Jamal Lewis has had a bigger impact than his 484 yards might indicate. Lewis' professional attitude and approach have had a positive influence in the Browns' climb back to respectability.

--TE Steve Heiden had two excellent games with Kellen Winslow sidelined. Heiden's 10 catches rank fourth on the team, and all of them seemed big in the two games he played with Winslow out. Heiden's blocking also has been a boon to the running game.

--WR Braylon Edwards seems to play much better when he catches the first pass thrown to him. He had another drop in Jacksonville -- that's 12 for the season -- but he caught his first pass and contributed another deep catch later in the game.

--WR Donte Stallworth has helped in the passing game merely by being on the field. Defenses have to respect him, which opens things up for Braylon Edwards on the other side of the field.

--NT Shaun Rogers wreaked havoc against Jacksonville. He caused constant disruption in the middle of the line. Rogers faced backups, but he did what he was supposed to do to take advantage of the situation.

--CB Eric Wright has shown signs of growing up. Wright has made some good plays in coverage and generally played better than he did earlier in the season. Wright has not "arrived" yet, but he appears to be on the right path.

--TE Kellen Winslow returns after his suspension that was removed, and he can help the Browns by just playing football. Winslow's on-field histrionics and gesticulations do not help anyone on the offense.

--KR Joshua Cribbs has been held in check through the first seven games. Cribbs has had one good return (44 yards) but is averaging just 24 yards per kickoff return. If Cribbs could return to the form of last season, the entire team would benefit.

The OBR Top Stories