The World Series is set! It's our Cleveland Indians vs. the globe's darlings, the Chicago Cubs. Everyone without a rooting interest will be for the Cubs - so, once again, it's Cleveland vs. the world. I like that position. The series line has opened Chicago -180/Cleveland +155, and moving the Cubs' direction. I think that is a bit inflated, no?
The first ever -ever! - World Series Game 1 opener in Cleveland will be Tuesday night. Hard to believe that in our previous 5 World Series (20, 48, 54, 95, 97) we did not have home field.
Anyway, the World Series has distracted me from Browns-Bengals week! I moved down to Southwest Ohio in 1994 and immediately hated most Bengals fans from the start. These games are big to make sure these idiots are put in their place; they are not the mid-70s Steelers or the early-90s Niners. They are a mediocre football team at best and need to be reminded of that. That's why even if we are pathetic, we need to put up a good game.
I've been to many Browns-Bengals games in the past:
- 91, where Steve got me Media seats in the old stadium; we sat in the baseball press box on a Monday night next to the field goal camera;
- 95, the last game at Municipal
- 99, an epic battle between Tim Couch and Akili Smith (hint- that was sarcasm)
- 09, Warren's first game, an overtime win by Cinci
- and a few games down here in Cincinnati where, if we were lucky, Browns fans took over the stadium by the 3rd quarter.
But the one game that sticks out and is so painful is the 2007 game down here in Cincinnati, week 16. 2007 was a magical year for the Browns - it started so bad with a 45-7 loss to the Steelers and Charlie Frye being benched. Our starter game 2 was Derek Anderson, an unknown quantity at the time. He responded by leading the Browns to 51 points (!!!!) vs. the Bengals in Cleveland, and our offense started to click. Anderson had Braylon, Jurevicius, and Winslow as his primary receivers and a rookie Joe Thomas on the line. The defense was decent enough.
So many memorable games that year - a huge win at home vs. Seattle....Freddie's first game, a 41-31 win over Miami.....the Phil Dawson field goal controversy in Baltimore.....I traveled to Asia for the first time and followed the Browns' win over the Jets in week 14; on the way home, I stopped at Layup's place and we went to a bar to see the Browns-Buffalo snow bowl - an 8-0 Browns win.
We entered week 16 with a 9-5 record and with a win against the Bengals, would clinch our first playoff birth in 5 years. My friend Keith - a lifelong Bengals fan - asked if I wanted to go with him - hell yes! The game was 2 days before Christmas, and at least half filled with Browns fans.
The weather was cold and windy - about 30, and I'd say 20 mph winds. I remember the wind the most. The wind definitely had an impact on our passing game. We were not that strong running the ball - I think Jamal Lewis was our lead back - so we had to pass to move the ball.
This is where the "bad" Derek Anderson emerged. He played tight, and forced the ball numerous times to Winslow when he was clearly not open. (It later became public that Winslow was complaning about not getting the ball and insisted more opportunities). Forcing throws in a cold, windy game by Derek? Of course! A recipe for success!
He had 4 interceptions in the game, 3 in the first half, and we were behind 19-0 at half. Our mastermind coach, Romeo, must have laid the wood down at half time. The offense responded a little; we scored a TD in the 3rd and early in the 4th; we stopped the Bengals run game - so it was 19-14 for most of the 4th quarter. However, we just couldn't find one more sustained drive...... the game ended with the Browns having the ball at the Bengals 30 and Derek throwing to no one in the end zone.
Just an absolutely crushing loss. Not only was I taunted by those loser fans leaving the stadium (with Keith joining in a little), the playoff permutations now were convoluted and we no longer controlled our own destiny. Tennessee had the inside track to the playoffs and the Steelers owned the division tiebreaker against us.
(Side note - our week 17 game was against San Fran, an NFC opponent; the game meany absolutely nothing. We could not win our division; if we won or lost, it was dependent on Tennessee's game vs. Indy. If they won, we were out (no matter what); if they lost, we were in (no matter what). This scenario is the reason why the NFL only plays division games (and no out-of-conference games) on week 17 now.....). Oh, and that Tennessee game? They played a 12-3 Colts team that sat down Peyton Manning. So the fate of Cleveland was in the hands of......Jim Sorgi.......it did not turn out well.
I'm still bitter about that game, the Colts, Sorgi, Winslow, .....so many factors.
On to the games:
LA 24, NYG 17. Is anyone really deceived by the Giants 3-3 record and think they are a good team? I am shocked they are favored.
Det 28, Was 20. I like what I see out of the Detroit offense - and, in Detroit, I don't think the Redskins have the weapons to keep up with the Lions.
Oak 31, Jax 23. I've bet on the Jags enough to know their MO; they are average offensively with a below average run game, and their secondary is susceptible to vertical passing games. I think Oakland is a horrid matchup for them.
KC 27, NO 17. People realize this game is played outdoors, right? I keep having the Saints/Giants game in my mind as a preview for this game.
Buf 20, Mia 17. I think Miami is putrid, but can I really trust Buffalo after 4 straight wins? They are not that good.
Bal 23, NYJ 16. I know, back to the well on this one. Harbaugh has to have some surprises for Geno, right? And are the Jets on the verge of quitting?
Min 20, Phi 17. I am starting to believe that the bye weeks for teams on a roll are a bad think - see the Eagles after their week 4 bye! Low scoring game here with the Eagles keeping it close.
Ten 27, Ind 17. The Colts are about to implode, and I believe LeBeau will be able to expose that offensive line of the Colts.
Atl 30, SD 20. A good team - Atlanta - at home, coming off a crushing loss playing a team coming off a big win and can shoot themselves in the foot? I think the Falcons cruise here.
TB 23, SF 20. No idea. I'm shocked at how bad Colin looked last week.
Pit 30, NE 27. Just a wild hunch here. NE is not as good as we think - see the first half last week vs. the Bengals - and Landry should be comfortable enough in this offense.
Sea 24, Az 16. I think Seattle is starting to find itself and there's something wrong with Arizona this year...playing the Jets mask a lot of flaws.
Den 20, Hou 13. Everyone is concentrating on the Houston side of the ball here - but how will Denver score in this game?
Best bets: 14 of them. Last week: 6-4-2; overall: 29-30-4
KC - 6
NO/KC under 51.5
Buf/Mia under 44.5
Oak/Jax over 47
NE/Pit over 48
Hou/Den under 40.5
My supercontest picks: last week: 4-0-1; overall: 16-13-1
Our official combined Supercotnest picks: last week: 4-0-1; overall: 17-12-1