Monday, November 5, 2007

Browns Getting The Love and NFL Chatter

This is going to be a fun week of hype here in Cleveland. It's the first meaningful Steeler week since 2002. Win or lose tonight, the Steelers will be in first place with the Browns right there chasing them down at 5-3. That first week 34-7 Steelers blowout in Cleveland turned out to be the aberration of the 2007 season, not the rule. This is not the same team the Steelers saw the first time around. They are coming up against a finely tuned, well-oiled offense machine that can drop 30 on anybody. Beating a good Seattle team was a huge confidence boost. Now comes the Browns game of the year against their hated rival. I hate to even call it a rivalry at this point because the Browns have been so non-competitive since returning in 1999. This team, however, may be different. At a minimum, at least they are entertaining. That offense has so many weapons. Yet the defense is so putrid that the offense must put up 30 every week if the Browns are going to win.

Here are some good reads about yesterday's game:

Jones, Browns D, Makes Critical Stand - Len Pasquarelli,

Browns are Homing in on Advantage at Their Stadium - Terry Pluto, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Lewis Steps up on Short Stage - Bud Shaw, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Browns Finally Have Learned to Become a Team - Patrick McManamon, Akron Beacon-Journal

4th and Done for a Middling Offense - Art Theil, Seattle Post-Intellegencer's Peter King in his excellent
Monday Morning QB column had this to say about the Browns: What has gotten into Derek Anderson? Confidence, a fearlessness about throwing the deep ball and three excellent downfield targets -- wideouts Braylon Edwards and Joe Jurevicius and tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. Cleveland, 5-3, is a lost tiebreaker out of the second AFC wild-card berth with eight manageable weeks left (their final six games are against teams .500 or less as of this morning).

Down by 16 to Seattle early, Anderson led a comeback that had Cleveland win in overtime 33-30 throwing for a career-high 364 yards. He's on pace to throw for 4,216 yards. Pretty interesting for a guy who was Charlie Frye's backup all summer and for the first game.
Winslow was heroic, catching 11 balls for 125 yards, and Jamal Lewis, the man Baltimore thought was finished, rushed for four touchdowns. Cleveland will be in the pennant race to the end.

King also has the Browns listed as #13 in his Fine Fifteen. They sure have come a long way. While we are talking NFL, here are some random NFL musings for you:

1. Not that I am in any way, shape, or form unhappy that the Browns took Joe Thomas as #3 in the draft, but how good has Adrian Peterson looked for the Vikings? I loved him at Oklahoma and he is making the NFL look easy. Yesterday his 296 yard performance broke Jamal Lewis' single game rushing record. He did it in his EIGHTH PRO GAME. His speed and size are amazing. Don't forget, he is playing for a team that has three borderline NFL QB's (Tavaris Jackson, Brooks Bollinger, Kelly Holcomb) and possibly the worst Wide Receiving corps in the NFL. You are looking at your next NFL superstar.

2. I tried not to mention the Colts/Patriots game all week, but the game lived up to all of the hype (did I mention I didn't see one second of it, I was at the Browns game). Tom Brady does it again. It's time to recognize him as one of the greatest of all time. One more Super Bowl puts him in the rarified air with Joe Montana, yet Montana did it with Jerry Rice, the greatest WR of all time as his running mate. Up until this year, the best WR Brady played with was Troy Brown. Oh, and by the way, Joseph Addai can play, and I'll gladly take over 200 total yards and two TD's for my now 8-1 fantasy squad.

3. How bad is the rest of the league after the Colts and the Patriots? San Diego is supposed to be the third best team in the NFL? They just lost to a one-dimensional 3-5 Vikings team. The Packers are 7-1 with no running game and 85 year old Brett Favre playing like he is 25 again. Detroit isn't 6-2, are they? Tennessee literally cannot throw the ball, yet they are 6-2. Last year's Super Bowl runner-up Chicago is 3-5 and looking horrible, yet the Browns are 5-3 with the worst defense in the NFL? Parity is king. More like mediocrity is king. Tampa Bay lead the NFC South at 5-4. San Diego and KC are tied for the AFC West lead at 4-4. Seattle leads the NFC West at 4-4.

4. Brett Favre, you gotta give it up for that old man. Huge comeback win in KC yesterday where he came up with some big time throws to Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. How they are 7-1 with about the worst running game you will see is a true testament to Favre's greatness.

5. What happened to the Denver Broncos? I caught some flak for saying this before, but Mike Shanahan isn't such a genius without John Elway playing QB. Jay Cutler is certainly taking his lumps, but their run defense can't stop anyone. Losing to Detroit 44-7 may be Shanahan's low point in Denver. In a very winnable division, Denver is 3-5 and two of their wins were on last second field goals. They could very easily be 1-7. Don't forget they were also bomber by San Diego 41-3 in week 5. Oh yeah, RB Travis Henry is also facing a possible drug suspension.

6. I know this is an NFL feature segment, but much love out to Mark Mangino and the Kansas Jayhawks, one of only three remaining undefeated teams. They have moved up to #4 in the BCS standings. I saw a great Mangino quote. A reporter asked him if three months ago someone would have told him his team would win his first nine game, what would he have thought. His response: “I’d ask them what they’re drinking and see if I could get some of it.”

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