Thursday, September 20, 2007

Browns vs. Raiders Thoughts

The 1-1 Browns look to build upon their win last week at home versus Cincinnati travelling to the Black Hole to face off against the 0-2 Oakland Raiders. The Browns have not won 2 games in a row since 2003 and look to check off another box on their list of things they haven’t accomplished in a while; they got a Division win last week, and attempt to go to 2-1 in the process. This is a game the Browns SHOULD win, but due to their recent history it seems more daunting then it appears, with Vegas concurring as the Browns are currently a 3 point underdog.

Here are the things that concern me heading into this game:

LaMont Jordan – He has played the Browns twice in his career and both times has rushed for over 100 yards. He is 2-2 in rushing for 100 yards this season, versus Detroit and Denver. The Browns are 2-2 in allowing a 100 yard rusher this season; you’re welcome Willie Parker and Rudi Johnson. See a bit of a trend? Yes, because the Browns run D sucks and their D overall is allowing 39 PPG, which is not good.

Raiders Pass D – They had an off day last week against Denver but were among the league leaders in Pass D (and overall D) last year. They have play makers in the defensive backfield and generate pressure up front with their line. Derrick Burgess is a monster. After making it look easy against the Bengals, DA and the boys will have their work cut out for them this week.

West Coast Trip – Since their return in 1999, hell since forever, the Browns have traditionally struggled in West Coast games. Not uncommon for many teams but definitely something to consider.

Browns Pass D – Brodney Pool is still hurt after concussing himself. Mike Adams might need a cast on his wrist. Gary Baxter still, legally, does not have any knees. This leaves Sean Jones as the only healthy safety. Add the fact the Leigh Bodden still has a tender groin (don’t we all?) and the fact the Browns have given up 10 TD passes in 2 games and you’re looking at a potential problem. Jerry Porter and Ronald Curry are no slouches at WR.

Raiders are Mad – After getting horns-waggled out of a victory last week by Mike Shanahan and the Broncos, they Raiders should be feisty this week.

It’s not all gloom and doom as the Browns still have some thing going for them:

Momentum – Hey they only won 4 games last year, they have got to be psyched. They are ¼ the way there after only 2 games. You can do it! Seriously, the Browns showed what they are capable of last week, I don’t expect all of 51 points each week but they should be able to be effective.

Raiders QB Situation – Josh McNown in hurting but will start. Lane Kiffin says Duante Culpepper may play as well. If only I had a baseline to judge how a QB carousel could work out. Hold on, see 2003 and 2007 Browns. OK, this is a good thing. McNown looked awful last week and you don’t know what you will get with Culpepper. Neither is extremely mobile which plays into my next point.

Browns LBs – The Oakland OL is improved but still a work in progress. The Browns LBs are the most athletic group on the team and that could be a huge advantage. Antwaan Peek is nursing a sore foot but I expect he and Kamerion Wimbley to reek havoc all day. Throw in Mr. Everything Chaun Thompson here and there and we might actually see a few sacks from the Browns.

Just Run Baby – The Raiders have a good D but you can run on them. Pound away. Run behind Big Joe and Steinbach. Warren Sapp has never been a run stopper. They traded for former Brown, and piece of crap, Gerard Warren in the pre-season. This sets up the highly anticipated Big Money versus Human Parking Cone Kevin Shaffer match-up the world has been waiting for. Jamal Lewis showed us he still has some gas in the tank last week. Running him will help protect DA from the Raiders D and himself.

3 Point Dawgs – If I were the Browns I would look at the paper and go, we are 3 point underdogs to Oakland? WTF?!? Seriously. The Browns are a better team. Oakland is one of the few organizational in the NFL that is in more disarray than the Browns. Get pissed Cleveland. Let show the same fire we did last week.

Go Browns!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

DEEEE-Troit Sucks My B####!!!

Today: Indians 4, Tigers 4. Indians sweep the Tigers pushing their lead int he AL Central to 7 1/2 games.

Records: Cleveland 90-62, Detroit 83-70

Games Remaining: Tribe 10, Tigers 9

Indians Magic Number to clinch the AL Central: 3

If the Indians go 2-8 over their last 11 games the Tigers would have to go 9-0 just to tie the Tribe for the AL Central Division title.

Oh boy... this is gonna be great!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Math

Tonight: Indians 7, Tigers 4. Kudos to Jensen Lewis for notching his first Major League victory.

Records: Cleveland 89-62, Detroit 83-69

Games Remaining: Tribe 11, Kitties 10

Indians Magic Number to clinch the AL Central: 5

If the Indians go 4-7 over their last 11 games the Tigers would have to go 10-0 just to tie the Tribe for the AL Central Division title.

I'm getting excited...

7 is Heaven

Down 5-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth a three run outburst topped off by a Jhonny Peralta 2 run jack. Casey Blake wins it with a walk off bomb int he 11th. Is the magic back? Can we say the "P" word? Consider this:

The Tribe has 12 games left. If the Indians split those games, 6-6, Detroit would have to win its remaining 11 to force a tie.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Final Dagger?

Kansas City Royals… never had a chance.

Chicago White Sox… left for dead long ago.

Minnesota Twins… pounded into submission.

The only thing left between the Cleveland Indians and the 2007 AL Central Division title is the nemesis that is the Detroit Tigers. The Browns and Lions used to battle it out in the 1950’s and 1960’s NFL when they were the most revered franchise in pro football. Ohio State and Michigan have been butting heads in the Big Ten for eons. The Cavs and Pistons is one of the NBA’s newest and feistiest rivalries today. It’s time to add the Indians and Tigers to the list.

This never has been a rivalry before because the Indians and Tigers have never been good at the same time. When the Tribe has flourished, the Motor City Kitties have floundered. When the Tigers have been strong the Erie Warriors have been weak. It’s taken over 100 year of the American League’s existence to finally get both franchises to be contenders at the same time.

I’ve always despised the Twins and hated the White Sox but the tigers have managed to piss me off this year. Maybe it’s calling for the stopwatch on Rafael Betancourt and then denying they had anything to do with it. Please, spare me the lame excuses. Maybe it’s alleged former ‘roid boy Pudge Rodriguez complaining about Travis Hafner standing on the back line of the batters box. Or maybe it’s the fact that they have hit over 10 Indians hitters this year, mostly during Tribe blow out wins, and the Indians have only hit 1. Maybe it’s just because Gary Sheffield is a total prick. I don’t know, but I just don’t like them.

But opportunity knocks. Three games. Four and a half game lead. Magic Number of 9. Jacobs Field. The pitching match-ups favor Detroit so the Tribe offense is going to have to step up. I’m looking at you Travis Hafner. The Tigers are hot, winners of 8 of their last 10, but the Indians have been in a groove as well. The Indians can wither put the Tigers out of their misery or create some indigestion for Tribe fans over the last week of the season.

It’s about time that the Detroit Tigers go swimming with the fishes… Uncle Eric you know what you and the boys have to do.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Out of Nowhere

Anyone who claims to have seen the Browns 51 point outburst coming is either Nostradamus or a liar, and last time I checked Nostradamus is dead.

Regardless, the hope for the 2007 season was restored when Leigh Bodden picked off Carson Palmer with less than 30 seconds left in the to preserve a 51-45 Browns victory in the highest scoring home game In Cleveland Browns history. In a game when defense was in short supply, the Browns D managed to force a couple of punts, cause a fumble and intercept two passes when it needed to.

The defensive line still looks horrible, but the overall speed of the defense is night and day compared to last season, limiting the number of big plays by one of the league best WR tandems, Ocho Cinco and TJ Whosyourmama. Rookie CB Eric Wright and hobbled CB Leigh Bodden gave up a ton of catches and a ton of yards but in the end they managed to win, even with a depleted secondary.

Brodney Pool left the game early when he concussed himself on a bone rattling tackle that earned, and rightfully so, a 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty. Daven Holly dressed, but did not play, after being taking a cheap shot from Hines Ward last week. Mike Adams and Kenny Wright filled in, but more often than not, you didn’t notice, which is good.

The highlight on the day was obviously the debut of the “Air Chud” offense. And what a debut it was. Derek Anderson looked tight on the first series, quickly going 3 and out with two awful throws, but took a deep breath and tied the franchise record for TD passes in a single game with 5 (along with over 300 passing yards) and could have easily had 7 if he didn’t overthrow Joe J after recovering his own fumble and missing an open K2 on 3rd and Goal from the 1. This was the DA the Browns hoped would emerge in Training Camp this year but did not. Maybe trading Charlie Frye was really necessary for the mental stability of DA and Quinn. This does temper the need to rush Quinn in and buy him some time to sit back and learn which, despite what some others think, is a good thing.

The ball was spread out as both Braylon Edwards and K2 had over 100 yards receiving. Edwards and Jurevicius both had 2 TDs while Winslow pulled in another. Steve Heiden and Lawrence Vickers added key catches and the Browns executed a Josh Cribbs end around to perfection. The Browns actually utilized their weapons for the first time since the 2002 Wild Card Game and were aggressive and went for the win instead of playing not to lose. A nice change in offensive philosophy.

The only frustrating thing was the continued obsession with Vickers. I am instituting “The Lawrence Vickers Commandment” which states, “Thou shall not give the ball to Lawrence Vickers on 3rd or 4th Down when the yardage is 1 or less.” Fourth and 1, stuffed, enough said. Also, it is painfully obvious that Tim Carter may be fast but he is not good. What does that say about Travis Wilson if he can not make the dress squad? Put K2 or Cribbs in the slot and Heiden at TE in 3 wide sets, please and thank you.

Hands down the best thing about the game… offensive line. Holy crap! Jamal Lewis, 215 yards, and he looked frisky when doing it. He wasn’t kidding when he said he gets stronger as the game goes and the opposing D wears down. Sweet Lord, 8.0 yards per carry! And most of that was on the left side where Thomas, Steinbach and Fat Hank Fraley just mauled the Bengals and Seth McKinney could pull and lead Lewis through the hole. This also eliminates a weakness by running away from the Human Parking Cone, Kevin Shaffer, brilliant! Its ok, because once Ryan Tucker is out of steroid de-tox in 2 weeks, the HPC will become a thing of the past. Thomas and Steinbach are just big, not fat, just big and muscular. Fraley and McKinney are two of the most athletic fat guys the Browns have had in years, and everybody loves a fat guy!

Best play of the game… The DA knee down to run out the clock and the smile on his face when the Referee let him keep the ball, his first win as an NFL starting QB. Quote of the day, “How about that, a division win!” said with a smile and a chuckle by Romeo Crennel, who despite taking some deserved criticism this year stays one of the classiest guys in the league. To be able to make fun of himself under all the scrutiny tells you the kind of person he is.

A good win, that must be enjoyed, but the Browns can not lose focus. A dangerous Oakland team is lurking. They have a legit D and have looked more than adequate on offense in new head coach Lane Kiffin’s system. They run the ball well with LaMont Jordan and that will give the Browns D troubles. They suffered 2 bitter losses in the first 2 weeks so they will be hungry and the Browns have a history of poor performances on the West Coast.

The Browns notched only their second divisional win in the last 3 years this week. They haven’t won 2 games in a row in over 3 years. It’s time for that to end this week.