Finding Hope For the Cleveland Browns
Nov 28, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back LeVeon Bell (26) has his helmet knocked off by Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith (22) uring a NFL football game on Thanksgiving at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
The Browns play in a division that was led by the Ravens and the Steelers, who made Conference Championship games and Super Bowls seem like their birth right. The Bengals came along and actually stuck around to give the division 3 teams that could make the playoffs. The Browns seemed like they would be in for a rough go around for awhile with the other 3 teams in the division.
Yet last year the Bengals won the division with a solid 12-5 record while the Steelers and Ravens came in right at average, 8-8. Since then the Bengals lost both of their coordinators and still have Andy Dalton as their QB. Hue Jackson steps in as a play caller which could help, but could also create a big learning curve. The team continues to be ultra talented but will only goes as far as Dalton, and the new coordinators, can take them.
The Steelers and Ravens on the other hand just keep getting older and slower in a league that even more so values youth and speed. The Steelers defense, especially their secondary, often look like they are running in quick sand and they just re-signed veteran Brett Keisel to try to shore up their front. Jarvis Jones looks adequate, which would be fine if he wasn’t a first round pick. The offense has added punch, and marijuana it seems, to their backfield with LeGarrette Blount along with 2nd year back Le’Veon Bell. Dri Archer adds a lot of speed in a small package as well. Big Ben’s receiving core continues to lose players; first Mike Wallace and now Emmanuel Sanders.
The Ravens have had a Bengals like off-season in the police blotter. Headlined by their falling star Ray Rice. Rice will be out the first two games following a season of abject failure. Rice was the team’s bell cow back but will now serve in a shared carries situation. Adding Steve Smith adds more grit and toughness outside and the return of Dennis Pitta at tight end should help Joe Flacco, who didn’t seem to live up to his big contract. The defense aged quickly and outside of Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs doesn’t scare anyone. These are not your Super Bowl Ravens.
So instead of being overwhelmed by the division Browns fans are most worried about the Dalton led Bengals, and their stellar defense. The Steelers and Ravens have lost a ton from their formidable years and now will try to scheme their way to wins, instead of dominating. The lowly Browns have a chance once again in the division.