I am going to do a bit of a different preview this week and for the rest of the season. It’s hard to preview games that don’t exactly matter as the Browns enter #DraftPickSZN. The big thing for the remaining weeks for the Browns will be the development of players like Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Antonio Callaway, Denzel Ward, and Myles Garrett. Wins don’t matter much, and they should focus on getting a solid draft pick. The future is bright, and it should be coming with a new head coach, so we just need some positive results from the Browns here on out.
The Browns take on the Falcons at home in Week 10, and it sparks my favorite memory as a Browns fan. Since their return to the NFL in 1999, they’ve only had two winning seasons (2002-2003 and 2007-2008). They went 9-7 in the 2002-2003 season and blew a 17-point lead in the Wild Card round to the Steelers. It remains their only Playoff berth since their return to the league, but the most memorable part of the season for me will always be their Week 17 win at home against the Falcons.
With Kenny Albert on the call on FOX (the same announcer calling the game today), the Browns found themselves in must-win territory down 7-points to Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons.
Corey Fuller’s forced fumble and recovery by 3rd overall pick draft bust Gerard Warren set up Kelly Holcomb’s go-ahead touchdown pass to legendary Cleveland Brown Kevin Johnson.
The Browns’ defense, which pitched a shutout in the 4th quarter, got the ball back with under 5-minutes to go in the game. William Green, a rookie 1st round pick out of Boston College, would break off the most iconic offensive play (and radio call) in the 20-year history of the new-Browns.
The 64-yard rush and “Run William Run!” call is even worthy of being placed alongside other historic Browns moments back when they were a good team from the 60’s through the late 80’s (they were good, trust me, look it up… John Elway ruined the franchise).
While that might have been the most iconic play, the moment for me that remains my favorite will always be the goal line stand that sealed the victory.
Dwayne Rudd, the same guy who made this play in Week 1…
…and was the reason the Browns were not 9-7 and already in the playoffs, made the stop on 3rd down. It was capped off by Earl Holmes, who made the game-winning tackle of Warrick Dunn at the 1-yard line in his only season in Cleveland.
There was jubilation in the crowd. Pure excitement. Actual happiness for the Browns and their fans. I couldn’t believe it, especially because I got to watch it live, back before I had NFL Sunday Ticket. I lived in Connecticut at the time and watched many Browns games via NFL Gamecast (truly awful). Getting to see the game as it happened, with it being on local TV, helped add to why it is so memorable to me.
The only play since then I remember that truly got a full Cleveland Browns stadium into a frenzy was this play in Week 3 of this season…
Baker, Baker, Baker. He hasn’t had a rookie season for the ages, but when you consider what he has had to deal with, it’s clear to see why he supplies hope. As the Browns and Falcons have a rematch 16 years after that memorable game in Cleveland, for once, there’s some hope that the Browns aren’t far away from getting back to the “good times” and leaving the “bad times” behind.
Will the Browns grab another win over the Falcons (they’re 3-2 against Atlanta since 1999)? It won’t be excited, but I am once again excited to watch this young team grow.
This is tougher than last week, but I am feeling going out on a limb and saying the Browns keep this one close. The over is a lock, though.
ATS PICK: Browns +5.5, Over 50.5
MY RECORD: Line – 5-3-1, O/U – 5-4
The Browns’ injury report continues to look like a fucking dissertation, but David Njoku and Denzel Ward are expected to play. Joe Schobert and Damarious Randall are also leaning towards to the good side of the coin, as well. The tough loss will be cornerback E.J. Gaines and linebacker Christian Kirksey, who both went on injured reserve last week. There is a chance that cornerback Terrance Mitchell, on injured reserve since Week 4, finds his way back soon.
QUARTERBACK: We need Baker to keep on plugging away today. He had a pretty solid outing last week, but still missed a couple throws here and there. His deep ball has been inaccurate at times. I’d like to really see him manage the game well against the Falcons, especially now that new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens has decided to use Duke Johnson.
RUNNING BACK: Keep using Duke Johnson. Keep feeding Nick Chubb.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Hopefully Rashard Higgins is back to form after his return from the injury report last week. The key to winning this game, and any game, though, will be if they can set the tone with Jarvis Landry.
TIGHT ENDS: David Njoku has been better, but still not great. The drops have been killer. He also needs to be taken out when they need a tight end for protection. He isn’t a great blocker, but the staff puts him in terrible situations at times.
OFFENSIVE LINE: PROTECT. BAKER. MAYFIELD.
OFFENSIVE PLAYCALLING: Give Baker something to work with again. Less seven-step drops and play actions. The offensive line isn’t good, don’t put him in bad situations as Todd Haley did.
DEFENSIVE LINE: I just want some Myles Garrett sacks.
LINEBACKERS: I just want to see people actually tackle for once.
SECONDARY: The injuries have been brutal as the defense begins to regress a bit. They have to create turnovers, or they’ll get shredded by Matt Ryan. Having Randall and Ward play today would change the game and give the Browns a chance.
Duke Johnson. See what happens when you get him involved?
Let me see it again.
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The Browns keep it close, but the Falcons are just too good, even in the cold outside of a dome.
PREDICTION: Falcons defeat the Browns, 31-28