With the announcement that Mason Rudolph would start week 17, Browns fans can finally sigh in relief.
Steelers’ QB Mason Rudolph will start in Week 17 game against Cleveland.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 29, 2020
After an ugly loss to the NY Jets, the Browns still control their playoff destiny. It is pretty simple; win and you’re in. Seeing as how the last time they faced Pittsburgh they lost by 31, you could understand the anxiousness of Browns fans. However, with Ben Roethlisberger sidelined, the Browns are basically guaranteed to make the playoffs.
I’m sure we can all recall what happened the last time Mason Rudolph started against Cleveland. Along with getting hit in the head with his own helmet, he also threw four interceptions. With no reason to believe he’ll be any more competent against an even better version of the Browns, I predict another ugly loss. The Browns will end their season with a win, and their first playoff birth since 2002.
With that being said, one double digit win team is going to have to come to grips with reality very soon.
Wrong Year, Wrong Conference
The narrative on the AFC has been that it simply isn’t as competitive as the NFC. If Tom Brady wasn’t making the Super Bowl, it was probably Peyton Manning. Go figure that the year Brady leaves the AFC, not only are there eight double digit win teams, but there’s a potential scenario where an 11-5 football team won’t make the playoffs. Even with the added playoff spot, the AFC is just too stacked.
The last 11-5 team that didn’t make the playoffs were to 2008 Patriots. This year, it’ll come down to the Dolphins, Ravens, Colts or Titans. All of which currently sit at 10-5. As far as I’m concerned, the Colts and Ravens have cake walks to the playoffs. So if I had to predict which team will miss out, I’d say the Dolphins or Titans.
Tua Tagovailoa is simply too inconsistent at this stage of his career. There’s always the chance he gets benched after he puts the team in a hole. However, with nothing left to play for, the Bills could rest the majority of their starters, giving Tua ample opportunity to lead his team to victory.
As for the Titans, the Texans are good enough to beat a team with a defense like Tennessee’s. If Deshaun Watson is on his game, they could easily spoil the playoff hopes of Mike Vrabel. Either way you look at it, one really good team will end their season in heartbreak.
Back to the Browns
2020 have provided us with many surprises. From the emergence of the Dolphins to Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, this NFL season is one for the ages. It’s been an up and down year for the Cleveland Browns. All season long there’s been question after question regarding the team.
Is Baker Mayfield the future? Should the Browns trade Odell Beckham JR.? Is Baker actually better without Odell? He is by the way, in case you were wondering. Nonetheless, the team put the noise behind them and had their best season since 2007. With a culture lead by new head coach Kevin Stefanski, the future looks bright for the Cleveland Browns.