After losing 10 straight home games dating back to last season, the Browns are hoping to win their second straight in Cleveland Browns Stadium and third overall on Sunday when they host the Oakland Raiders. If they are successful, they can close out with four straight by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars on Jan. 3.
Barring a change, Charlie Frye will start for the Raiders. The last time he played in Cleveland was when he was with the Browns in the 2007 opener against the Steelers. He was yanked in the second quarter and traded to Seattle the next day.
The return of Frye to play against the team he once started for is just one distraction surrounding the Browns. The bigger one concerns Mike Holmgren and what role he might have with the Browns if he becomes their executive vice president.
During a radio interview on a Seattle radio station, Holmgren said "any and all" positions are open to him, including head coach. During 17 seasons coaching the Packers and Seahawks he was 161-111 and made the playoffs 12 times. He took teams to the Super Bowl three times and won one.
Holmgren is casting a giant shadow at a time when the Browns are starting to play better. Since the Nov. 8 bye, the Browns have improved statistically in 10 offensive and seven defensive categories. It is one reason coach Eric Mangini doesn't believe he'll be judged strictly by the final record.
"I'm not really looking at it that way," Mangini said. "I've been a head coach for four years now (at two) different places with different experiences and different players. I feel good about the things I've done in that role. There's a body of work there. Each situation is different. Anybody that comes in can evaluate that.
"Has it always produced the results that you wanted? No, because the goal is to win every game. You make decisions as you go and you continue to improve and progress."
Since losing 16-0 to the Ravens on Nov. 16, the Browns have scored 121 points in five games. It is a sharp improvement over the first nine games, including the shutout by the Ravens, when they scored 78 points and were on their way to unchartered offensive futility. They beat the Chiefs, 41-34, on Sunday.
The scoring success has taken some heat off offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. The offense began improving when the Browns started using the no-huddle almost exclusively since the first game after the bye.
"I've always been a fan of the no-huddle," Mangini said. "It does create problems. We've run it well and it's not easy to do. I do think that has helped."
The switch to the no-huddle coincided with the switch from Derek Anderson to Brady Quinn at quarterback after the bye. It would be a major surprise if the Browns do not go no-huddle against the Raiders.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3 -- The Browns will be trying for their third straight win for the third time since returning to the NFL in 1999.
TRENDING: With five catches, Chansi Stuckey is becoming a go-to receiver.
--DE Robaire Smith did not play against the Chiefs because of a groin injury.
--KR Josh Cribbs returned kicks of 100 yards and 103 yards for touchdowns and now holds the NFL record with eight career touchdown returns.
--QB Brady Quinn threw an interception in the first quarter, ending a streak of 150 passes without being picked off.
--RB Jerome Harrison ran for three touchdowns including one on a 71-yard run, the longest run (by 34 yards) for the Browns this season. Harrison rushed for 286 yards, a Browns franchise record and the third-best running day for a back in NFL history.