The National Football League’s schedule for the 2012 season is out and you all know what that means.
Yes, football fans and pundits alike. That means it’s time once again to play the W and L game. You know how that goes.
For the uninitiated, however, here’s a quick primer. Place the Browns’ schedule vertically on a piece of paper, then go down the list game by game and place a W or an L beside each game depending on whether you think the Browns are going to win it or lose it.
Sure, it’s just mid-April and the season is five months away. Sure, the team hasn’t drafted yet. And sure, the Browns have yet to hold OTAs or minicamps.
But this is the time of football season where we suspend all belief and have some fun. The time of the season where you can kick back and believe anything you want to believe. So let’s have some fun.
Place those games in a row, starting with the season opener at home (again!!) against Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles right down to the season finale at Pittsburgh.
It should read Philadelphia, at Cincinnati, Buffalo, at Baltimore, at New York Giants, Cincinnati, at Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, Bye (a tossup), at Dallas, Pittsburgh, at Oakland, Kansas City, Washington, at Denver, at Pittsburgh.
Got your W’s and L’s in place? OK, here are mine as I put my Mr. Glass Half Empty hat on.
Philadelphia is a big fat L because the Eagles will finally live up to their 2011 hype and hammer the Browns led by Michael Vick. Follow that with another L down in Cincinnati as Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton laughs at the sophomore jinx and shreds the Cleveland secondary.
Here comes the first victory of the season over Buffalo with Trent Richardson mistreating the Bills' front seven. That will be balanced by consecutive losses at Baltimore (in front of a national television audience on a Thursday night) and the New York Giants. Too much talent on both of those teams to overcome.
So that’s a 1-4 start against some tough competition. But that’s going to change as the Browns rack up their first two-game winning streak for the season against the Bengals at home and at Indianapolis, where Andrew Luck will experience growing pains.
And now that the Browns are 3-4 with home games against San Diego and Baltimore dead ahead, one would think that maybe, just maybe, this might be the year the Browns become the surprise team in the NFL.
That 3-4 becomes 3-6 as the Chargers, with Philip Rivers and a rejuvenated Antonio Gates leading the way, and the Ravens, with Ray Rice and Joe Flacco once again plundering the Cleveland defense, slam the Browns and their fans back to reality.
And now comes the bye, which couldn’t come along at a better time. But it doesn’t help.
That’s because a trip to Dallas results in the third straight L as the Cowboys, who almost always play better at home, prevail easily. And the downward spiral continues in week 12 as Pittsburgh invades CBS and spanks the Browns again.
That’s four straight L’s and a 3-8 mark with no relief in sight. This isn’t much fun at all.
OK, we plod on with a trip to Oakland next up. The Raiders are improving, which would prompt one to automatically place another L beside that one. Au contraire. Every season, the Browns come up with a surprise game, the kind of winning effort that comes from out of nowhere. That’s this game as Colt McCoy and Richardson overwhelm a good Oakland defense and end the losing streak.
They build momentum on that victory with another W against Kansas City at CBS, lifting the record to 5-8 and a shot at becoming semi-respectable with games at home against Washington and the final two at Denver at Pittsburgh looming.
Would love to put down at least two W’s next to those games, but I can’t. In fact, I can’t put even one next to them.
Robert Griffin The Third will invade CBS and make Mike Holmgren even angrier that he couldn’t pull off that pre-draft trade back in early March and obtain the Baylor quarterback. The Third will throw and run for a whole bunch of yards as the Redskins romp.
Those trips to Denver (Peyton Manning) and Pittsburgh (Ben Roethlisberger) will result in L’s and bring to a close yet another abysmal season under Holmgren and Tom Heckert Jr.
The final tally: 5 W’s and 11 L’s.
From a personal standpoint, I guess this little journey through the schedule wasn’t much fun after all.
Oh well, there’s always next year.
Now it's your turn. Lemme see what you've got. And remember, don't be too kind.