To hear their social media and sports-radio fans talk about it, the Cleveland Browns season is officially over at 2-4.
They’ve moved on to who is responsible, and when those players and coaches should be fired.
But if this NFL season has shown us anything so far, it is that any team can beat any other on any day.
— The_Brownie_Elf (@TheBrownieElf1) October 17, 2022
Six underdogs, including some touchdown-plus picks, won outright last Sunday.
So who is to say the Browns can’t take out a familiar opponent this week and the week after that?
As it turns out, those games are not only winnable, but they can also push the Browns to the top of the AFC North.
Impact On The Division
Cleveland’s next two games pit them against division rivals Baltimore and Cincinnati.
Baltimore has already proven vulnerable and might be more so as Lamar Jackson deals with an ankle injury.
Myles Garrett and Nick Chubb have had Cincinnati’s number recently.
great opportunity to compete within the division pic.twitter.com/5pfEkT5eVb
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 21, 2022
And these teams happen to occupy the 2 spots above the Browns in the AFC North standings.
Winning those games assures the Browns of at least a share of the division lead at 4-4.
But more importantly, it moves them to 3-0 versus the division with all the tiebreakers that come with that.
Less Obvious Impact
Winning cures a lot of ills, and rolling into the bye week on top of the AFC North will lighten the mood of every player and fan.
It might also put a significant dent in the prevailing sentiments on social media and sports talk shows.
One can’t underestimate how that impacts the organization as a whole, including Andrew Berry.
Myles Garrett: "Right now, it's the biggest game of the season. It's not just because it's the next one … We have to get rolling."#Browns
— Anthony Poisal (@AnthonyPoisal) October 21, 2022
Cleveland’s GM is undoubtedly doing his due diligence on players available at the trade deadline.
But he is also scouting out trade possibilities for some of his own players, several of whom are free agents next year.
Berry’s trade deadline actions will be radically different for a 2-6 Browns team than a 4-4 division leader.
But Will It Really Matter?
Jacoby Brissett will be challenged to win 2 out of 3 more games before Deshaun Watson’s return.
But Miami (undefeated with Tua Tagovailoa at the helm), Buffalo, and Tampa Bay are formidable opponents.
Two weeks to prepare for Miami and emotions in Brissett’s last start versus the Bucs are key to pulling off the upsets.
the only way is 🆙 pic.twitter.com/kn5UmRy0zy
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 19, 2022
Watson’s rust level might determine his first-game success against a motivated Houston team.
And finishing off a 6-game sweep of division rivals could determine whether the Browns make a playoff appearance.
But such a turn of events almost has to start with 2 wins over the next 2 weeks for Cleveland.