Can the Browns End the Season on a Positive Note?

Is there a way for the Cleveland Browns to save their season? According to SBR NFL odds, the Browns are favored by 2.5 points for next week’s road game against the Cardinals.

With three games left in the regular season, the Browns are 6-7. If they win out they would finish at 9-7. But to win out they would have to beat the Ravens, who have the best record in the AFC and have won nine games in a row.

The Browns have three games left, the road game at Arizona, a home game with the Ravens and a road game at Cincinnati. They did beat the Ravens 40-25 in Baltimore on September 29 but it was a very different team. The Ravens haven’t lost since and they rank fourth in the league in points allowed while the Browns rank 21st in points scored. Cleveland is just 3-5 since that win in Baltimore.

After a 20-13 road loss in Pittsburgh, the Browns got back on track with a 27-19 win against the 1-11 Bengals. At the start of the season few expected the Browns to have to “save” their season. The hype around the team positioned them as favorites to win the AFC North and go far in the playoffs. The expected breakout year obviously didn’t happen and the team has been exposed. They were never contenders, they are pretenders. 

Still, a trip to the playoffs is possible but other questions need an answer, for example, will head coach Freddie Kitchens save his job?

His play calling skills were impressive last year but they have been questionable this season, to say the least. Granting a rookie head coach play calling responsibilities was clearly not a good idea. The team’s penalty totals reflect their lack discipline and accountability and this can all be traced to their coach.

Baker Mayfield had a sensational first season, setting an NFL record with 27 touchdown passes by a rookie and he seemed to have rapport with Kitchens but he’s regressed this year. He has thrown the second-most interceptions in the NFL (16 and almost half of them have come in the fourth quarter) and is last in the league in completion percentage (59.2 percent) despite having more weapons surrounding him than last year.

It’s not all on Mayfield, after being sacked 25 times in 14 games last year, he has been sacked 33 times in 13 games this season. The team’s two tackle spots are seemingly particularly weak. Building an offense around a quarterback who is constantly running for his life is very hard but it can’t be denied that there are causes for concern going forward, he has really struggled this season.

What Happened to OBJ?

Odell Beckham Jr. was supposed to put the Browns over the top and even though he’s been healthy, his production has been practically non-existent. He caught just two passes for 39 receiving yards against the Bengals and he after averaging nine receiving touchdowns per season in five years with the Giants, he has just two touchdown catches this season. He was expected to lead an explosive Browns offense but he hasn’t sparked the team at all.

To make matters worse, he reportedly told players and coaches on other teams that he wants out of Cleveland.

A new report from Jay Glazer of FOX Sports says that Beckham himself has approached opposing players and coaches before and even during games, telling them “come get me.”

Glazer claimed Beckham would be traded when the Giants were claiming they wouldn’t, so his word has value and he recently noted that Cleveland wasn’t Beckham’s preferred destinations.

Browns General Manager John Dorsey gave up Jabrill Peppers, a first-round pick and a third-round pick for Beckham, which may stop him from trading him but given his poor play and his reported lack of desire to play in Cleveland, it might be for the best for both parties if he goes somewhere else.

With three games left, the Browns could finish anywhere between 9-7 and 6-10. They went 7-8-1 last year, then improved their roster significantly, so anything less than 9-7 or 8-8 should be considered unacceptable. It’s still not what they envisioned but at least they would have a winning season and build from there. It might not be enough to make a playoff run but ending the season strong is a must.

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