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Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

Browns vs. Buccaneers – What to watch for in Week 9

browns tampa previewThe Cleveland Browns kick off a week that will see them play two games in five days as they take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at First Energy Stadium.

The Browns are coming off a solid defensive performance against Oakland in a game that many seem to forget that the Browns actually won. Cleveland is a tidy 3-1 at home this season, and a win against the Buccaneers will keep the Browns on the edge of the playoff race in the AFC North and set up an important game Thursday night against Cincinnati.

Before they can start focusing on the Bengals, however, the Browns need to take care of business against Tampa, a team they haven’t beaten since 1995 as the Buccaneers have won all three meetings since 1999.

Sunday’s game marks the final one in a three-game stretch of “easy” games for the Browns and the 1-6 Buccaneers are ranked last in the NFL in both total offense and total defense.

So, no worries, right?

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5 Questions – Cavs season-opening edition

After a four-year hiatus, the NBA spotlight makes its return to Cleveland on tonight as the Cleveland Cavaliers open up the 2014-15 season against the New York Knicks.

The Cavs are emerging from NBA purgatory after losing 215 games over the past four seasons and are set to embark on what should prove to be one of the most exciting seasons in franchise history thanks to the return of LeBron James, the addition of Kevin Love, and the continued maturation of Kyrie Irving.

Because the Cavs pulled off one of the most amazing (and unpredictable) off-seasons in league history they are considered by many as favorites to not only return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007, but also bring home the franchise’s first NBA title – whether they are ready to or not.

“Anybody talking about us winning it all, I think they’re being unfair to those great NBA teams that are out there that have either won it or have been there to win it, and also to us as a team that’s talented but new,” head coach David Blatt said earlier this week. “We have a lot of work to do before we can start claiming anything before it’s time.”

Fair or not, the expectations are there for the Cavs and they will have to deal with them on a nightly basis. In addition, they will have to cope with heightened scrutiny from the media, take their opponents’ best shot night after night, and carry the burden of being the closest team to ending the city’s 50-year championship drought.

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Johnny Manziel right where he needs to be – on the sidelines

johnny manziel frustrationCleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine caused a bit of a kerfuffle during his press conference today by mentioning that he senses that rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel if “frustrated.”

“Well, I just think that he’s quiet. I just think you feel it,” Pettine said. “I’d be shocked – maybe I’m imposing it on him – but you feel it because you know what kind of competitor he is. Here’s a guy that’s gone from the past how many falls being out there making plays to standing there and having to watch. The competitor that he is is one of the biggest reasons we brought him here. So if he didn’t feel that way, I’d be shocked.”

On a basic level it’s probably good that Manziel is frustrated – that shows he’s not willing to just hold a clipboard and collect a paycheck. But on a bigger level we’re not sure why this is still a topic of discussion among the media and certain segments of the fan base.

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Browns take care of business, but there are still concerns

kruger crushes raidersThe Cleveland Browns took care of business on Sunday, doing just enough on offense and making game-changing plays on defense to send the Oakland Raiders home as the NFL’s lone remaining winless team.

It may not have been pretty at times, but for a team that hasn’t won more than five games since 2007, we will take actual victories over moral victories every day of the week.

The more we think about it, though, the more we wonder why this has to be classified as an “ugly win.” Sure, the offense did not light up the scoreboard, but the last time we checked football is a team game; if the defense and special teams play well, but the offense struggles, why do so many people want to diminish the win?

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Browns vs. Raiders – What to watch for in Week 8

browns raiders previewThe Cleveland Browns return home on Sunday to face the Oakland Raiders in a game that has taken on greater importance following last week’s loss to Jacksonville.

This is the second consecutive week that the Browns will face a winless team and they are looking to avoid becoming the first team in the 95-year history of the NFL to lose back-to-back games this late in the season to winless teams.

It is also the second game in a three-game stretch that many saw as the “easy” part of the Browns schedule and the team needs a win to calm everyone’s nerves and stay within sight of the division’s top teams.

Probably no one needs a better showing against the Raiders than quarterback Brian Hoyer, who in one week went from deflecting questions about his contract status to hearing renewed calls from certain quarters for Johnny Manziel to take over at quarterback. Put up a solid game in front of the home fans, and Hoyer should quiet the noise for a few weeks.

The probability of Hoyer having a rebound game this week are pretty high as he has played considerably better at home this year. In guiding the Browns to a 2-1 home record, Hoyer’s completion percentage (62.2 vs. 50.9), average per pass attempt (8.67 vs. 6.74), interceptions (0 vs. 2), sacks (2 vs. 7) and quarterback rating (102.2 vs. 77.2) are all significantly increased at First Energy Stadium.

It’s not all about one player, as Browns head coach Mike Pettine reminded everyone this week, so here are a couple of other keys for the Browns if they are to right the ship this week.

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Something to ponder before Sunday, Browns fans

Cleveland Browns Logo BadgeAndrew Siciliano, host of the Red Zone Channel, was on the NFL Network this morning and he shared the following interesting tidbit:

No team in the 95-year history of the NFL has ever lost consecutive games to winless teams this late in an NFL season.

The Cleveland Browns lost last week to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Browns host the winless Oakland Raiders on Sunday at First Energy Stadium.

Make of that what you will.

When just as important as if Browns switch quarterbacks

browns hoyer jaguarsWhat a difference a few days can make.

This time last week the Cleveland Browns were high on everyone’s radar after a convincing beating of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the debate was on about how quickly the team should sign starting quarterback Brian Hoyer to a new contract.

Fast forward one week, and one horrible performance by the team and Hoyer against the previously winless Jacksonville Jaguars and the narrative has changed dramatically.

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Browns do what many expected. Many still freak out.

browns lose jaguars 1The Cleveland Browns did what many fans expected on Sunday in dropping what should (could?) have been a winnable game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

But just because it was not unexpected, doesn’t mean it was any easier it witness.

Taking a small-picture view of the game, the numbers show that the game was even uglier that it looked on our TV screen. According to ESPN Stats & Information:

  • The Browns failed to gain more than 1 yard on 65 percent of their plays (48 of 74).
  • The Browns were just four-of-20 on third down. Those 16 missed conversions? Only the most in the NFL this season.
  • The Browns allowed 185 rushing yards to Jacksonville, the worst rushing team in the league entering the game. Denard Robinson, a converted quarterback, had 127 of those yards.
  • The Browns averaged just 2.3 yards per carry, bringing back memories of 2013.
  • Quarterback Brian Hoyer had his worst game as a Brown, finishing just 16-of-41 with an interception, three sacks, a lost fumble and a quarterback rating of 46.3.

Had enough? We know we have.

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Browns vs. Jaguars – What to watch for in Week 7

browns jaguars previewThe Cleveland Browns travel to sunny Jacksonville on Sunday to take on the winless Jaguars in a game that will help reveal whether or not this truly is a new Browns team.

The Browns are coming off a 31-10 beating of the Pittsburgh Steelers and, having won two games in a row, should have no trouble with a bumbling Jacksonville team that has lost nine consecutive games dating back to last season.

The game also is the first in a three-game stretch where the Browns will face rookie quarterbacks Blake Bortles and Derek Carr, and then most likely second-year quarterback Mike Glennon. It would be hard to script an easier stretch of games – at least on paper.

We’ve all seen the Browns in this situation before, where they have seemingly finally turned the corner only to somehow slam into a brick wall. If these truly are not the “same old Browns,” Sunday’s game is a perfect opportunity to show it.

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What if Brian Hoyer had never been injured?

what if brian hoyerThe Cleveland Browns are currently preparing to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third game of what could be a season-defining five-game stretch.

But while the team’s focus in on the Jaguars, there is a potential franchise-altering decision looming on the horizon: namely, what to do with quarterback Brian Hoyer?

Hoyer will be a free agent after this season and both the Browns and Hoyer’s representatives are trying to figure out just what Hoyer’s value is to the team.

The subject came up this week after a story from Jason Cole at Bleacher Report came out stating that Hoyer would not resign with the Browns as long as fellow quarterback Johnny Manziel remains on the roster.

Hoyer wasted little time in debunking the story.

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