Wednesday 13 December 2017 / 04:13 PM

Airing it Out: Week 10 – Browns are for real

Last Thursday Cleveland broke a nasty streak. With their 24-3 shellacking of the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium, the boys in orange won their first divisional game on the road since 2008.

Wow, 2008 – that’s back when Katy Perry was kissing a girl, and liking it.

We’re 10 weeks into the season and the Browns are for real. I literally just got goosebumps typing this sentence and I’m not even a Browns fan.

I guess as a long-time Seahawks supporter I feel for the ever-deprived fan-base in Cleveland. For those of you who are new to following the NFL, Seattle winning Super Bowls 43-8 has not been a common phenomenon over the past 38 seasons.

We’ve had our hearts broken repeatedly over the years – like when the Pats drafted Drew Bledsoe at #1 to leave us with sloppy seconds:

Is that Rookie Card in mint condition, dude?

But I digress. Back to the Browns and back to 2014.

Josh Gordon will rejoin the team this week and Brian Hoyer has got to be licking his chops. Gordon led the league with 117.6 yards per game last year before he got busted smoking a doobie.

That’s 117.6 yards. Per game.

To put this in perspective, the team’s leading receiver, Andrew Hawkins, is currently averaging 56, tied for 34th-best in the NFL.

At any rate, Gordon’s got one more game to sit out and then he’ll be back on the field versus the Falcons. You’d better snag him now in your fantasy league before one of your dumbass friends does.

Oh, and speaking of licking chops in Cleveland. It’s a well known fact that 47 per cent of all Browns fans are eating a pork chop right now, at this very moment – and no, it doesn’t matter what time of night it is when you read this article.

From worst to first?

There’s been a lot of talk this season about Brian Hoyer and his rise to “fame” (if you want to call it that) in a city that can’t come up with a better helmet design than plain orange with a couple brown and white stripes.

But, Johnny Manziel bench-warming aside, we really ought to be talking more about this Cleveland defense.

They are the only defensive side in the NFL that has more interceptions than passing touchdowns allowed. They may be ranked 20th overall, but many a team has gone deep into the playoffs with a bend-don’t-break mentality.

Of course, not all is well on Lake Erie. These two are apparently their sexiest fans:

Team on the Rise

Last season the Kansas City Chiefs were the surprise comeback team of the year. Andy Reid took a 2-14 club and led them to the playoffs.

In 2014, most pundits (myself included) predicted a letdown season.

And five weeks in, we appeared to be spot on.

But now, after four straight wins (two on the road) the Chiefs are looking like a team to be reckoned with.

They’re fifth in rushing at 135.8 per game and have the NFL’s number one passing defense, allowing just 205.3 yards to opposing Qbs.

Sure, Alex Smith’s passing attack is ranked 30th in the league and no matter what anyone says, he is 100 per cent a game manager more than a star under center – but, he’s thrown just 4 INTs on the year to go with 11 passing touchdowns.

Only Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have fewer (3) interceptions amongst quarterbacks that have started every game in 2014.

Turnovers matter, and that’s why the Chiefs are (6-3) and just one game behind the Denver Broncos.

Team on the Decline

Every team that’s currently riding a multi-game losing streak has either already been mentioned here in this column or stunk to begin with (I’m looking at you Oakland) and therefore never had a pedestal to fall from.

So for week 10, instead of looking at a team on the decline I want to talk about a team that missed out on a huge opportunity by losing a game last weekend that they really should have won.

It really shouldn’t be difficult to guess which direction we’re going in here.

So, I’m not going to go into any depth on this Justin Bieber curse. Click on the link if you really want to know – but after two straight games of clobbering defenses (remember ‘Big Ben’s’ back-to-back six TD games?) the Steelers scored just 13 against the lowly Jets, giving New York just their second win of the year.

But as they say, the sun even shines on a dog’s ass once in a while, and this week that dog’s ass belonged to Rex Ryan.

The Jets snapped an eight-game losing streak and the Steelers proved that they’re not quite as back into form as we thought they were.

On to the power rankings.

Commentary Box Sports Top 10 Power Rankings

Rank 1 – Patriots     —

You snooze you lose.

Actually, in this case you snooze you get healthy. The Pats enjoyed their BYE in week 10 and therefore they will still enjoy the top slot.

Rank 2 – Cardinals     —

Big win. Big loss.

Arizona finally took care of a Rams team that held a lead for much of this weekend’s NFC West clash – but they lost Carson Palmer for the season with a torn ACL.

They’ve won before with Drew Stanton and Palmer’s hardly Mr. MVP, but we can’t help but wonder if they’ve got the same Super Bowl chances now that their back-up QB is under center.

Rank 3 – Broncos     —

The Raiders made it interesting this weekend for a full quarter. Too bad NFL games go for four.

Rank 4 – Eagles     —

332 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 INTs and 0 butt fumbles.

Can Philly win with Mark Sanchez at the helm?

They did this week, 45-21 over the Carolina Panthers.

Rank 5 – Colts     —

NFL.com’s got the Cowboys leap-frogging Indy here after throttling the Jags 31-17 in London. But the Colts didn’t even play this week, and neither did Jacksonville.

Rank 6 – Cowboys   Up 1

Cowboys fans are thanking their lucky “stars” that Weeden is back riding the pine. DeMarco is a beast, but this team will only go as far as Tony Romo’s vertebrae can carry them.

Rank 7 – Seahawks     Up 2

Seattle is jumping Detroit here after the Lions won a clutch game against the Dolphins 20-16 at home.

Why? Two words.

Beast Mode.

Marshawn Lynch rushed for 140 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. Seattle as a team ran for an NFL-high and Seahawks franchise-record 350 yards. Their pass protection still needs some work and Russell Wilson’s passing game isn’t quite right, but if the Hawks can feed the Beast and stick to their identity then the whole Percy Harvin trade will be seen less as a WTF moment and more of an example of the genius of Pete Carroll.

And if Seattle’s defense can stop playing like a shadow of their former self? Watch out.

Rank 8 – Lions     —

Megatron who?

Seattle fans have to wonder what might have been had they jettisoned Harvin the pre-season and held on to Golden Tate.

Rank 9 – Packers     Up 1

Aaron Rodgers had 6 touchdown passes.

In the first half.

Sit down Ben Roethlisberger.

Rank 10 – Browns     New to List

Why the %&@# not?

Ever other division leading team is on here. Well, except for the Saints, but the NFC South is less of a division and more of a four-team garbage dump.

Fell out of the top 10: Steelers

Pittsburgh jumped out of the top 10 just as fast as they jumped in. What are they doing, the Hokey-Pokey?

 

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Michael Airhart

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