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The Browns are Super Bowl contenders

The current Cleveland Browns team boasts the best roster in decades.  Cleveland Browns by Cleveland Browns is licensed under CC BY 2.0 DEED.
The current Cleveland Browns team boasts the best roster in decades. Cleveland Browns by Cleveland Browns is licensed under CC BY 2.0 DEED.

Since their founding in 1946 – the same year It’s a Wonderful Life was released – the Cleveland Browns have seen the heights of success, the depths of failure, and everything in between.

The Cleveland team was originally coached by Paul Brown, and it dominated the All-America Football Conference for four years. Upon joining the NFL in 1950, the Browns continued their success, winning NFL titles in 1950, ’54, and ’55.

But since then, the Browns have struggled. They haven’t won a single Super Bowl, and are one of only four NFL teams that have never made a Super Bowl appearance. Since being re-established in 1999, after a move to Baltimore stripped Cleveland of its pro football team for four years, the Browns have had only three winning seasons and two playoff appearances. 

So why, you may ask, do the Browns still have fans? And why would anyone raised in Pittsburgh, the home of six-time Super Bowl champions, choose to root for Cleveland?

Well, I didn’t suffer any catastrophic head trauma as a child; neither did I eat paint chips. But my father hails from northern Ohio, and he has passed his Browns fandom on to me.

Of course, being a fan of the Browns is difficult business, most of the time. This year, however, the Orange and Brown are looking up – and after yesterday’s 13-10 win over the Steelers, they have cemented their second-place standing in the AFC North.

Moreover, this is a historically favorable situation. The Browns probably have the best roster they’ve had in decades, with Myles Garrett as one of the best defensive ends in the league. Despite a messy quarterback situation, Dorian Thompson-Robinson shows promise, and third-stringer P.J. Walker has won two of his three games. 

In other words: there is no better time for the Browns to win the Super Bowl than now. With a relatively easy schedule – only two of the Browns’ remaining seven opponents have a winning record – and a 3-2 record within the division, Cleveland may be poised not just to claim a wild card spot but to actually run the North. If that happens, it will be a climactic moment for the Browns – and will be especially satisfying given two decades of stifling defeat.

This year, the AFC has been full of surprises. Expect a playoff picture without Buffalo or Cincinnati – but expect the Cleveland Browns to be included. And make no mistake: a Super Bowl run is possible. Here’s how. 

If the Browns make the playoffs, they will face some of the best teams in the AFC: Jacksonville, or Kansas City, or Miami. Why do they have a chance to win?

First: the Chiefs are not as good as they seem to be. Travis Kelce is distracted with a certain pop star, and Patrick Mahomes’ stats have dipped significantly. The Chiefs are doubtless kicking themselves for trading Tyreek Hill – and regardless of what seeding might say, the Chiefs will not be the strongest team entering the playoffs.

That team will be the Jacksonville Jaguars. Dangerous on both sides of the ball, the Jags have certainly earned their 7-3 record. But as the 49ers showed last week, they can be beaten – and badly. In this matchup, Cleveland excels by playing tough defense on Trevor Lawrence, forcing him to make erratic decisions that can lead to interceptions and incompletions. Offensively, Thompson-Robinson must feed the ball to Amari Cooper and David Njoku, scoring early and maintaining the lead.

But what about Miami? The Browns’ pass rush will do little against the track-star receiving threats, and Tua is excelling under center. Here the key is in adding dynamism to the offense, through risky plays, which, lamentably, don’t seem to be Head Coach Kevin Stefanski’s hallmark. A Hail Mary at the end of the first half. A fleaflicker on first down. A Penn-State style, three-back run on third and short. After all, it’s Miami, the team that dropped 70 points in a game this season. You have to score. What do you have to lose?

And this leads to the possible divisional opponents, namely the Ravens. What to make of them? They thrashed Cleveland 28-3 in Week 4, and were narrowly beaten by a last-second field goal in Week 10. They are formidable. Lamar Jackson is solid. But without Mark Andrews, the Ravens may struggle to keep flying, especially in the postseason.

This may come as a surprise, but when it comes to the Browns’ Super Bowl hopes, no team is scarier than Houston. The Browns play there on Christmas Eve, against perhaps the best rookie quarterback to enter the NFL in years. And if Houston makes the playoffs, they will be a considerable contender, especially given that C.J. Stroud outmatches the entire Cleveland quarterback room. 

But if the Browns can hurdle these obstacles, orange-and-brown confetti could certainly be raining down in Las Vegas this February. And for the Browns backers, those loyal fans who have weathered many a storm … how glorious a day that would be.

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About the Contributor
Kevin Hutchinson, Staff Writer
Senior Kevin Hutchinson is a third-year staff writer. He enjoys following politics, watching football, and spending time with his girlfriend. 
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