Cleveland Browns: When Will they Win their First Game?

Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) celebrates a touchdown during the second quarter against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) celebrates a touchdown during the second quarter against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Yet another game slipped away and the Cleveland Browns remain winless. After so many close football games, when will their first win finally happen?

For the fourth time this year, the Cleveland Browns blew an excellent chance at collecting their first win of the 2016 NFL season. Instead of coming through one of those times, Cleveland finds itself at 0-8 halfway through the year.

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The loss to the New York Jets was especially painful, as a mere three points separated victory from defeat. The Browns even led by 13 at one point! And yet, another close loss befell them. So when can Cleveland put it all together? When do the Browns win their first football game of 2016?

Two brothers from New York, Dan Salem and Todd Salem discuss Fantasy Football Week 8 in today’s NFL Sports Debate.

Todd Salem:

Its been a rough eight weeks for Cleveland. In Week 2, the Browns held a commanding 20-0 lead over Baltimore, only to lose 25-20. The following week, they took the Dolphins to overtime. In Week 6, they lost by just two points to the Titans. Then this past week, it was a three-point loss at home to the New York Jets that saw them give up 24 second-half points after leading 20-7 at the break.

In eight weeks, Cleveland has had five different quarterbacks take snaps, which is one of the main reasons for the team’s struggles. It has also seen its previously solid running game disappear. Terrelle Pryor may be the lone bright spot left on Cleveland’s offense outside of a healthy Cody Kessler.

Week 8 seemed like the team’s best chance at grabbing a win because it was at home playing literally the worst opponent it possibly could, at least according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA. While the Browns ranked 32nd in the league prior to this past game, the Jets ranked 31st. But alas, Cleveland lost again.

Which begs the question: in this, the Year of Cleveland, will the Browns win a game? And if so, when?

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The next three weeks are not encouraging. They play the first-place Dallas Cowboys, have a road game at Baltimore and then take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. I think they will win a game this season and the best chances are surrounding their Week 13 bye. Before the bye, Cleveland faces the New York Giants at home. After the bye, they play the Cincinnati Bengals at home.

Both the Giants and Bengals were supposed to be kind of good this year; neither team is. The Giants have a bad offense and a “good” defense that doesn’t force turnovers or sack the quarterback. The Bengals have a bad defense and a “good” offense that can’t reliably run the football or protect Andy Dalton. The Browns are not better than either of these teams, but they can be better on a given Sunday.

Dan Salem:

We agree on one thing, the Cleveland Browns will win a football game this season. I would be shocked if they snatched two or three victories, but after watching the entire Browns vs Jets contest this past weekend, I can see how it happens. As a New York fan I saw every snap and every misstep taken by Cleveland in the game. Their offense looked decent with veteran quarterback Josh McCown back under center. Pryor is a real weapon and the Browns can score against a poor passing defense. The question then is, which of its remaining opponents is truly bad at stopping the pass?

The New York Jets have the worst passing defense in the league, having given up 2,313 yards through the air and 15 touchdowns. But two more of the Browns’ opponents fall in the bottom 10 of the league, the Bengals and Chargers. The Bengals have given up 16 touchdowns and 2,099 yards through the air, while San Diego has given up 11 touchdowns and 2,201 yards. For comparisons sake, the best team in the league is the Vikings, having given up only 1,432 yards and six scores. Cleveland gets both the Bengals and Chargers at home. Circle those games on the calendar.

You may be down on your Giants, but I don’t see the Cleveland defense stopping New York or getting by their defensive front seven. Coming out of their bye week, I do like the Browns’ chances of defeating the Bengals at home. Cincinnati is a vulnerable team and we saw against the Jets how Cleveland can exploit an opponent’s weakness.

If the Browns get two wins, then its versus the Bengals and Chargers most likely. Perhaps Pittsburgh puts up another stinker on the road in Cleveland as well. But if the Browns only win a single game, then its week 16 at home versus the Chargers. By that point in the season, San Diego will officially be out of the playoffs as well. They have found ways to lose football games all year, playing nearly every game down to the wire, for good and for bad, and have a terrible passing defense. Circle this game and mark it as a win for Cleveland.

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The Cleveland Browns have to win at least one game this season. Going winless seems unfathomable, but I suppose an Indians vs Cubs World Series did as well just a few years ago. The Browns will win a football game, however. I’m simply thrilled it wasn’t against my Jets.