Friday, September 19, 2008

Week 3: Browns vs. Ratbirds

With the Tribe off last night, I'm reduced to giving my worthless prediction for the Browns game at M&T Bank Stadium. I didn't even realize it was a 4:15 start until yesterday. It is not my favorite thing to have to sit around on Sunday waiting for the second game, especially when my favorite team is 0-2. I want them back on the field ASAP so I can try to forget about the first two games. Obviously, the Browns need to win this one or their season may already be over, as dumb as that sounds just three games into the season. Really, I don't think anyone knows what to expect from the brown and orange at this point. I wouldn't be surprised if they lost and I wouldn't be surprised if they won big.

Remember what happened last time the Browns visited Baltimore?

The Ravens should be nice and rested after Hurricane Ike disrupted their plans last weekend in Houston. But that also means they could be rusty. And with a rookie quarterback in there, you would think that this is the perfect time for the Browns to throw in some blitzing schemes to try to rattle young Flacco. Then again, we've rarely seen that type of planning on defense so who knows what's to come. I do know that with Robaire Smith out of action for the year, it's one less big guy up front to occupy their offensive line.

On the Browns side of the ball, it's imperative that they come away with some points this weekend. A whopping sixteen points through two games isn't going to cut it in this league. Not to mention their meager 206.5 ypg average, good for second-to-last in the AFC. With the weapons this team has, there is no excuse for that type of output. I expect Braylon to elminate the drops, Winslow to be involved more, and Stallworth to be standing on the sidelines in street clothes again. So now on to my prediction...

I see this game coming down to the wire, even though it should not. The Browns are head and shoulders above the Ravens talent-wise. But this is a road game, and the Browns just won't make it easy - just look at last year's game against an overmatched Ravens team. The Browns also have a coaching staff that consistently has looked overmatched and ill-prepared. Play-calling, clock management, and coaching decisions have been even worse than the execution on the field. I could honestly see this one coming down to another Phil Dawson field goal as the clock is winding down with the Browns of course having no time outs and scrambling to the line (a la the 16-15 win in Pittsburgh back in 1999). It was excusable for an expansion team, but I'm not sure why it's still possible 10 years later. Nevertheless, I'm going with Browns 16, Ravens 13.

Other Browns Notes: Phil Dawson is actually hoping for a repeat of last year's performance in Baltimore. Well, at least the part where the teams wins... And more good news - Eric Steinbach is hurting. Just what we need... And Tony Grossi gives his thoughts in his Friday podcast.

Tribe Update: After their final off-day yesterday the Tribe is back in action tonight. This will be the last game that my wife and I will be attending this year so I hope to be sent out on a good note. Fausto Carmona is on the hill for the good guys to start the final 10-game push for .500 or better... Based on my expecations going into this season, Ryan Garko has truly put up some puzzling numbers this year... Jensen Lewis seems to be enjoying the tiring role of everyday closer... And kiss Buffalo goodbye, the Tribe is now calling Columbus its AAA home.