Bold Predictions: Home Sweet Home

Regular visitors to this page may have noticed that GMD hasn't been producing his Bold Prections in recent weeks. He has been in his Green Mountain Fortress of Solitude, hiding from an unlikely alliance of Las Vegas "businessmen", the Psychic Friends Network, and Alan Greenspan, who all have a vested interest in maintaining an unknown future. Now, though, GMD emerges to give us his latest glimpse of the future...

The funny thing about the 2002 Cleveland Browns: They've got their mojo on backward. Picked early to contend in the AFC North, the Browns are teetering on the edge of contention because they simply can not win at home. The same team that has manufactured eye-popping wins in Jacksonville, New Orleans, and Nashville simply stumbles over itself in more friendly environs. So when the Indianapolis Colts - themselves struggling for their post-season lives - roll into Cleveland, a lot of analysts are high on the horsies.

But Browns coach Butch Davis has a plan. Friday before the game he buses the entire team out to Hopkins Airport, where a chartered 727 is gassed up and waiting. The jet takes off, flies twice around Lake Erie, and returns to the airport. A bus takes the team to a Holiday Inn Express in Akron. Players are forbidden to see their families, and Saturday practice is held at Akron University.

By the time the team bus rolls into Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday morning, a crowd of nearly 200 hired extras are on hand to heckle the players. Out of work actors and wannabe thespians are decked out in Colts regalia, hurling insults and boos at the players as they emerge from the bus. Team staff guides players away from the Browns locker room to a cramped, concrete storage space that has been mocked up as a visitors' locker room. The place is cold, damp, and drafty. Mouse droppings adorn the dark corners. A single, low-watt light bulb hangs from the ceiling.

Butch Davis surveys his team as his players wait for the inevitable pre-game speech. He takes a deep breath, pauses, and says, "That oughta do it." And walks out of the room.

Maybe it was the in-flight peanuts, or the low locker room lighting, or the fact the team stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Whatever the case, the Browns proceed to put a whooping on the Indianapolis Colts the likes of which the team hasn't seen in decades. Payton Manning throws three consecutive interceptions - all returned for touchdowns - to spot the Browns a 21 point lead with 13 minutes still to play in the first quarter.

Tim Couch - himself something of an interception machine - changes up the first play at the line of scrimmage to run the same Hail Mary that won last weeks' game against the Jaguars. Kevin Johnson gets under the ball 50 yards downfield and goes untouched for a score. A few minutes later, Quincy Morgan gathers in a 30-yard rope, sheds a tackle, and races another 25 yards for a TD.

By halftime, the Browns are up 127-0 and Butch is playing second and third stringers. To keep his team hot, the coach keeps a corps of faux Colt fan screaming and hollering behind the Browns bench. Gerard Warren has to be restrained after a vicious tongue lashing from one "fan," and Phil Dawson earns a $5,000 fine for splashing a cup of Gatorade in the face of another.

The ploy works. The Browns don't let up an inch through four quarters. By the time the gun sounds, the Browns have rolled up more than a mile of total offense.

Final score?

Browns: 393
Colts: -35

And that's the way I see it.

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