It happened. The Browns won a marquee game with national attention, defeating the Titans, 41-35.
Pay no attention to the score. At the end of the first half, Cleveland led 38-7 and had delivered the defeating-blow. Baker Mayfield played his best game as a pro. Above all, the Browns humanized a bulldozer, holding Derrick Henry to 60 yards.
At its best, Cleveland plays smash-mouth football, good defense, and Mayfield manages the ship. Boring, yes. Dangerous in the playoffs, also yes.
The Ravens, Giants, Jets, and Steelers are the Browns’ remaining four. The New York teams are two wins. With the way the Ravens are playing, Cleveland should be favored at home next week. The Steelers — see Week 6 — are a bad matchup. But could have the 1st seed clinched by Week 17, when they meet again.
Unless they pull a Browns, the 2020 Browns (currently Wild Card 1) should hold onto one of the three Wild Card spots.
Currently, the Browns would play the Titans in the first round. Would we not at least pick them to win the rematch? I don’t like betting on the Browns, I get it. But this team could find itself in the second round of the playoffs against the Chiefs, who are just waiting for a team to catch them sleeping in their year-long quest to take at least two quarters off a game.
Cleveland could be the Titans of last year. In the playoffs, Tennessee rode Henry past the Patriots, to a win over the top-seeded Ravens, and to a double-digit lead over the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. Interesting formula, one the Browns have since adopted with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.