The Cleveland Browns almost experienced the perfect week in Week 9 of the NFL. But for a late comeback by 1 of the teams that can impact them this year, it would of been perfect.
Browns Defeat the Ravens
Obviously starting out is the win against the Ravens. The Browns never trailed in the game, the offense was efficient enough and the defense was swarming. The Browns never got their running game going but were able to move the ball with the passing game under Jason Campbell and were aided by some huge penalties from the Ravens. The defense bottled up Ray Rice and got pressure on Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco consistently. The Browns did give up 2 touchdowns to 6’4″ rookie Marlon Brown which is a continuation of struggling against tall receivers but they did not allow that to keep them from a win. A few key plays will be reviewed today but the 15 play 67 yard drive that took 6 and a half minutes off the clock at the end of the 4th quarter, leading to a FG, sealed the game. The Browns only sit 1 game back of a Wild Card spot as of this morning.
Bengals Lose on Thursday Night Football (and lose another key defender)
The Bengals still lead the division, over the Browns by 2 games, but their loss Thursday to the drama filled Miami Dolphins kept the Browns within striking distance of the AFC North leader. The Browns have already defeated the Bengals once and will face the Bengals fresh off a bye week. The Week 11 showdown could be decisive for both teams. The Bengals face the Ravens this upcoming week, which should be another physical game for the team while the Browns get to sit home and rest up and focus their game plan. The Bengals loss of Geno Atkins will be huge for the rest of the season. The pressure he provides inside freed up the rest of their stellar defensive line to attack the quarterback. Without Atkins, as well as MLB Rey Maualuga for a few weeks and Leon Hall for the year, the Bengals have weakened the strength of their team and placed pressure on Andy Dalton to try to carry the team.
Steelers Lose, Again
As the Steelers lost, putting them 2 games behind the Browns in the win column, the Browns can celebrate in 2 ways. First the more their division foes lose the less competition for the playoffs and division. At some point the Steelers may also start to play for next year, sitting some of their veterans with lingering injuries and playing cautious. Steelers, used to competing for the division yearly, may start making their off-season plans much earlier then expected giving the Browns an easier time in the 2 matchups between the teams. It is very possible the Browns could be looking at a playoff possibility in Week 17 against their rival, how the Steelers show up could be huge. The second benefit for the Browns is the draft pick the Steelers owe the Browns in this up coming draft. The Browns moved a 4th round pick in 2013 to the Steelers for a 3rd rounder in the ’14 draft. As is the Steelers are tied for the 4th worst record in the league which means the pick to be conveyed is almost a 2nd round value. Huge in a supposed very deep draft. Browns fans, and front office, have 2 reasons to root against the Steelers this year.
Colts Win (The One that Got Away)
The Browns are not competing with the Colts, at this time, for any playoff positioning, but like the Steelers are rooting against them for draft considerations. The Browns have 2 picks coming from the Colts this up coming draft. The lower one, a 4th rounder, was a similar move as the Browns made with the Steelers, trading this year’s 5th for next year’s 4th. The higher pick is from the big Trent Richardson trade where the Browns received the Colts 1st rounder in 2014. The more losses Indy can accrue this year the higher each of those picks will be. A great Andrew Luck comeback kept Week 9 from being a Perfect Week for the Cleveland team.