Despite the bad taste still in our mouths over the gag job in Cincinnati that may ultimately cost the Browns a spot in the NFL Playoffs, the Browns still have a chance to do a lot of this season that no one thought they would.
A win against San Francisco would give them a ten win season for the first time since 1994. Anyone would thought the Browns would win 10 games this year is a liar (or mentally insane). I had them pegged for 5, most experts had them a 4 and Vegas had the over/under line at 6.
They also have a chance to go 7-1 at home. The Browns have never won 7 games at home in a single season. Never ever. In their history never. After the performances at Cleveland Browns Stadium since the rebirth in 1999, the fact that the stadium, fans and Dawg Pound are once again assets to the team in a complete turnaround. Football on the shores of Lake Erie in fun again. The tailgates are a happy place for the first time in a long, long time.
The development of some of the key players is leaps and bounds over previous years. The rookie class has been tremendous. Joe Thomas is already a Pro Bowl caliber player. Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald look to be the pieces needed to fix the decrepit secondary of last season. And Brady Quinn's performances in pre-season and practice have the Browns in the good kind of QB controversy... two quality QB to choose from, not two scrubs.
The younger veterans have come along nicely as well. Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow grew up and their play started to show it. Sean Jones and Brodney Pool struggled early on but came on at the end of the season. Despite the forgettable game in Cincinnati, Derek Anderson solidified what has been a volatile position since the Browns returned and even before they left. He has proved to be an NFL caliber quarterback despite his inconsistencies.
Older veterans bounced back as well in 2007. Phil Dawson showed last year's poor season was just a fluke. Jamal Lewis ran hard, hungry and showed he still may have a couple of years left on his tires. Andra Davis had a couple of big games at the end of the season. And who would have thought the simple move of Ryan Tucker to RG and The Human Parking Cone, Kevin Shaffer, to RT would pay huge dividends.
So despite the heartburn last week in Cincinnati, this has still been an incredible season. The games have been exciting, the Browns have been competitive and more importantly they have been winning. A win would finish 2007 strong and set the foundation for 2008. The team, town and people would be able to end 2007 on a high note and in a happy mood. And who knows, with a little help, we all may be rewards with a couple more games in early 2008.
Go Brows! Go Colts!