Sunday, December 03, 2006

Browns v. Chiefs

This week, the NFL's answer to a slow motion train wreck takes on the Kansas City Chiefs. Before I brighten your Sunday morning with my witty banter about how the Browns will get their heads handed to them yet again this week, I think we've reached a point in the season where a digression into something that's bothered me all year is appropriate.

That something is the Browns' schedule. The Browns were 6-10 last season, a record they shared with the Baltimore Ravens. Since both teams are in the same division, how is it that the Browns ended up with a schedule that is so much more difficult than the one the Ravens were handed?

Here's what I'm talking about. The teams that the Ravens have faced have a combined record of 57-65, and six of those teams (Tampa Bay, Oakland, Cleveland, Tennessee, Atlanta and Pittsburgh) are below .500. In contrast, the Browns' opponents have a 69-54 record, and only three of those teams are below .500. Do I think the disparity in schedules is part of a big conspiracy? As much as I'd love to suggest otherwise, I don't think so. It's just another illustration of the fact that while the Browns have made plenty of bad decisions over the years since their return, bad luck has also seemed to dog every step that they've taken. That's a hell of a combination, isn't it?

Anyway, today's dose of bad luck comes in the form of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are a team that fortune has smiled upon this year. Lose Trent Green? Not a problem-- Damon Huard will come in and keep you in playoff contention until Green returns. Lose Priest Holmes for the season? Ever since Larry Johnson arrived, it's been "Priest who?" in KC anyway. Oh, and Tony Gonzalez's shoulder is healed as well. His pride, however, still appears to be smarting from some of Mr. Winslow's ill-considered early season remarks, and I expect that Gonzalez will make the Browns pay a price for those this afternoon.

Looking at the numbers, this appears to be a particularly bad matchup for the Browns. First of all, the Chiefs are on a 5-1 run, so they are coming into this game on a high note, while the Browns are still licking the wounds from their 30-0 shellacking at the hands of the Bengals. Larry Johnson leads the NFL in rushing, and the Chiefs rank third overall in the AFC in that offensive category. Unfortunately, the Browns have yet to figure out a way to stop the run, and their defense ranks a pitiful 24th in the league against the rush.

While things don't look so good for the Browns' defense this week, I'm actually guardedly optimistic when it comes to the offensive side of the ball. Sure, Cleveland's offense ranks 31st in the league, but I truly believe that if Charlie Frye plays within himself, the team will usually be successful in getting the football into the hands of Cleveland's most potent offensive weapon, punter Dave Zastudil. I will also go way out on a limb and predict that because the team will be fired up to help save their beloved head coach Romeo Crennel's job, they will, in fact, score an offensive touchdown this week.

But they'll miss the extra point. Kansas City 24, Cleveland 9.


Drew said...

But of the teams that the Ravens and Browns have faced, what were their records last year? Looking at this year's records is no good, because you can't make a schedule based on unknown future results or expectations.

Heck, if the Titans can down the Colts than our Brownies should have no problem competing with any team on a weekly basis.

All that said, how about the second half of that game yesterday?

Hornless Rhino said...

The second half was AWESOME. I was at the game, and it actually reminded me why I decided to buy season tickets in the first place.

By the way, a big "thank you" to Kansas City Chiefs, for deciding not to blitz a kid whose previous experience consisted of two NFL snaps.

Now if we can just get the Blue Jackets straightened out...