Down But Not Out: The Cleveland Browns Control Their Own Fate

Down But Not Out: The Cleveland Browns Control Their Own Fate

Nick Pedone
1 year ago
2 min read
Down But Not Out: The Cleveland Browns Control Their Own Fate

Expectations are a funny thing.

A few years back, Clevelanders would've salivated at the thought of having five wins and being in the thick of an AFC playoff race through NFL Week 11.

But that was a few years ago. That was before the Browns drafted a franchise quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick, invested in the run game, offensive line and hired the reigning NFL Coach of the Year. 

The time for the Browns to win was supposed to be right now.

Or so we thought.

Everything that could have gone wrong, has gone wrong.

Torn labrums, injuries, vaccinated COVID-19 cases, weird officiating, play calling and an Instagram video by a player's father leaves the Browns at 5-5.

It's an unsettling spot. One more bad loss could derail the season, both mathematically and psychologically. A pair of wins, however, could have the Browns in first place of the AFC North.

It seems like the former is more realistic than the latter, for whatever reason. This has been a snakebit season. But it doesn't need to be moving forward.

The NFL is wide open.

After the Los Angeles Rams were shocked by the San Francisco 49ers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Washington Football Team in Week 10, it proved one thing to be true— nobody knows anything right now.

Anybody who tells you the Browns are already dead in the water is much too early.

This season will come down to who can get healthy, and who can get hot at the right time. 

By activating Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah off the IR, and Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt progressing towards their returns, the Browns are getting a little closer to health before their Week 13 bye week.

They still have two games against the Baltimore Ravens, who they battled with in shootout fashion last season. Those same Ravens just lost to the Miami Dolphins in a primetime game where Jackson's offense struggled greatly.

The Browns (+450) have the second-best odds to win the AFC North, ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals (+550) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (+600). Vegas is still giving Cleveland a shot.

Has it been THAT bad?

The short answer is no.

Perhaps this team was a little overrated entering the 2021 campaign. Maybe Super Bowl expectations were just too lofty.

This receiver room was an underwhelming one even before Odell Beckham Jr. forced his way out. The offense has missed Kareem Hunt (calf) and Nick Chubb (calf and COVID-19) for several combined weeks.

This offense has never had an opportunity to all be together at once, yet they are still Pro Football Focus's No. 10 ranked unit through 10 weeks.

Defensively, the Browns have laid their fair share of eggs, especially with the amount of capital spent on that side of the football this offseason. It hasn't been pretty as they've only forced 8 turnovers this year, ahead of just the Jets, 49ers, Ravens, and Jaguars.

Yet still, it's a unit constructed to slow down Lamar Jackson's Baltimore Ravens.

If they can do that, this season is far from over.

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