I won’t lie…I’m pretty sick of the 2013 NFL season. It hasn’t really been a good one. Too many injuries, too many inconsistent teams, lots of bad football. It’s just been bad.
Nothing new for the Browns of course as we’re used to watching crap for 15 years now. I’ve got some final thoughts I’d like to get out about the 2013 Cleveland Browns but I’ll do it in the picks…
(Home team in CAPS. Lines are from SportsBook.com. Gamble only if you’re stupid.)
STEELERS (-7) over Browns
I feel like the Browns always gets their butts handed to them in this game. There’s nothing left for them to play for while the Steelers are still clinging to a chance. The Browns players have no reason to kill themselves to win this game outside of theoretically playing for their future jobs.
This matchup does provide something though. It’s a perfect example of what I’ve been trying to say all season long about the Browns. When you put these two teams side-by-side you can’t really make the case that the Steelers are a more talented team. In fact, not only are they not more talented, I think they’re significantly less talented. What separates these two teams is the quarterback. The Steelers have a guy in Ben Roethlisberger who, though a reprehensible human being, is a really good player/leader at elevating his team. He doesn’t a receiver close to as explosive as Josh Gordon, nor does he have a tight end as dynamic as Jordan Cameron. He doesn’t have a remotely good offensive line. And as bad as the Browns running game has been this season they actually have 41 more rushing yards this season on 37 fewer attempts than the Steelers backs. Oh yeah, and statistically the Browns have a better defense too. But the reason that the Browns are sitting at 4-11, playing out the string while the Steelers are 7-8, still with hope is that they have a quarterback and the Browns don’t.
Blowhards in the media like Greg Brinda and Aaron Goldhammer can scream all they want about how “your record says what you are and it says you’re a loser” but that serves to only completely dismiss everything we’ve ever learned about the NFL for the past decade-plus and that’s that there is nothing more important than the quarterback position. A change of QB took the 2-14 Chiefs to 11-4 this season. Last year it was the 2-14 Colts, 5-11 Redskins, and 7-9 Seahawks who all added QBs and went to the playoffs. Fixing the quarterback position is the best way to turn things around in the NFL.
Yes, there are other ways to win without getting Pro Bowl play from the QB position. But that requires that all the other elements of your team are pretty much perfect. And for most football teams that is almost impossible. As great and dynamic as the Broncos have been this year they’ve had their fair share of injuries to their offensive line. Their receivers are good but not great. They don’t have an amazing running game. And their defense is just meh. But they have Peyton Manning…and that makes the difference between being 8-8 in 2011 and 12-3 in 2013.
So go ahead and continue to whine and complain about how this team is “nowhere close to competing” and about how “all the players on this team are losers” and ignore the fact that the only thing really holding the Browns back is that they don’t a quarterback. And until they get one this endless string of losing seasons will go on and on and on and on and on.
Nothing else matters if you don’t fix the quarterback. End of story.
Panthers (-7) over FALCONS
The Panthers still have home field and a first-round bye to play for while the Falcons have, well, nothing.
TITANS (-7) over Texans
Remember when we the Texans were 2-0? They’re now 2-13. It’s been rough year in Houston.
Redskins (+4) over GIANTS
This would be the kind of game where Kirk Cousins pulls out a meaningless win to provide useless sports talk fodder for the next four months about how he’s a viable QB.
Ravens (+6.5) over BENGALS
I don’t like how big that line is. Call me a sucker I guess but the Ravens need this game more than the Bengals do. I’ll at least be close.
Jaguars (+11.5) over COLTS
Jets (+6.5) over DOLPHINS
Boy did Miami crap the bed last week when they still had a shot at the playoffs! I can’t remember a game like that where one team actually has something to play for and the other doesn’t and it’s a complete blowout like that. Really weird. The Jets on the other hand appear to really be playing for their coach, much like the 2009 Browns did for Eric Mangini. Like him or not, Rex Ryan has done a really good coaching job this season with a team most people thought would be among the worst in the league.
Lions (+3) over VIKINGS
Speaking of playing for your coach. I’m not sure that both of these coaches don’t get fired after this game. Detroit has been a colossal disappointment for me this year. So just so they can let me down one more time I’m picking them again…basically just hoping their players are still trying hard enough to put up selfish stats and will end up winning because of it.
Packers (-3.5) over BEARS
This is simple for me. Aaron Rodgers is playing…I’m taking the Packers. I found the lack of effort that the Bears gave against the Eagles last week unbelievable considering that they had a chance to win the division with that game and not put their season on the line against a potential Rodgers return. The Eagles are pretty good, but the Bears looked like one of the worst teams in the league last week. I have no confidence in Jay Cutler and there isn’t a guy in the NFL that I’d take over Rodgers. I don’t care that the game is in Chicago, I’ll take that discount double-check guy anywhere.
PATRIOTS (-9.5) over Bills
The job that Brady and Belichick have done this season is incredible. How’s this for another example of what a difference a quarterback makes? I think Brady would kill to have the Browns offensive players around him and I’m not even remotely kidding.
SAINTS (-13) over Buccaneers
The Saints still have an outside-outside shot at playing a home game in the playoffs and more than anyone they need to play at home. They’re also not guaranteed even a playoff spot yet either. So they really need this game.
Broncos (-13) over RAIDERS
The Browns need the Raiders to win so that Cleveland can move up in the draft order. How crazy would it be if Oakland pull off the miracle…yeah, right never mind.
CARDINALS (+1.5) over 49ers
How much would it stink for Arizona fans if you finish 11-5 and out of the playoffs? They’ve had a pretty good year for the team that they have. Carson Palmer hasn’t been bad. Just shows you what can happen when you get good QB play…[continues to beat the dead horse].
CHARGERS (-9.5) over Chiefs
Chiefs have nothing to play for this week and the Chargers do. Simple as that.
SEAHAWKS (-10.5) over Rams
Eagles (-7) over COWBOYS
I’m so bummed out that Tony Romo is injured. Has there ever been a bigger buzz-kill? I love this Eagles team. They’ve had a pretty wild season but they’re hitting their stride. This is just the kind of team that could get hot at the right time and go on Super Bowl run. I must admit that I’m super envious of Philadelphia fans because I wanted Chip Kelly so bad and the Eagles are playing the exact kind of exciting football that I was hoping we’d get in Cleveland. As we continue to lament the current state of the Browns I’ll leave you with a tweet I sent out while watching the Eagles dismantle the Bears on Sunday night…
LAST WEEK: 10-6
BROWNS PICKS: 5-10Follow @ClevelandFlack