The Cleveland Browns once again impressed and disappointed against a lesser opponent, this one being the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the first Sunday of November. Cleveland’s offense failed to produce touchdowns in the first half, and the defense of the Browns could not deal with the combination of quarterback Mike Glennon and rookie wide receiver Mike Evans. As has been a growing tradition for the 2014 Browns, Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer and company made the necessary plays in the final 15 minutes of the contest, turning what could have been a devastating loss into the team’s fifth victory in eight attempts.
The 5-3 Browns will be on the road this coming Thursday night to take on AFC North rivals the Cincinnati Bengals. Cleveland will be atop the division standings with a win, but the Bengals haven’t lost a regular season home game since 2012. They’ve already proven they aren’t the “same old Browns.” Can Cleveland show that this roster is ready for prime time?
Justin Rogers has the Browns beneath a San Diego Chargers side that has been struggle-ing as of late in his latest NFL power rankings. He is seemingly not yet buying into the Browns being true postseason contenders: “The Browns’ road-heavy second half starts on Thursday against the Cincinnati Bengals, in a game which has serious, albeit early, playoff implications.”
Cleveland has not notched what could be referred to as a quality or memorable road victory in recent memory. The Bengals have been responsible for the best home record during NFL regular season play over the past couple of years. Thursday night will be a massive test for the Browns.
Cleveland Browns Week 10 NFL power rankings: Shutdown Corner
Frank Schwab actually dropped the Browns in his weekly NFL power rankings even though they beat the Bucs. “The running game has disappeared without center Alex Mack,” Schwab wrote. “Don’t let anyone tell you a star lineman isn’t important.”
He isn’t wrong. Cleveland’s offensive line has been horrendous without having Mack (broken leg) on the field. Hoyer hasn’t played as well due to the rushing attack of the Browns going MIA, and there are few reasons to believe the situation will improve anytime soon. No team can replace an All-Pro center during the fall months.
Cleveland Browns Week 10 NFL power rankings: New York Daily News
Hank Gola also has the Browns at No. 18. “They’ll find out about themselves Thursday in Cincy” is what Gola had to say about the club.
Cleveland has done nothing to date but guarantee that the team will avoid another 4-12 record this season. The Browns losing in Cincy wouldn’t be a sign that they aren’t yet ready to hang with the best of the best in the AFC, but how they recover from a defeat if one is in the team’s immediate future will tell plenty about Cleveland.
Cleveland Browns Week 10 NFL power rankings: Pete Prisco
The senior NFL columnist doesn’t shy from calling Cleveland out in his NFL power rankings: “If they want to show they are truly a playoff team they have to win at Cincinnati this week. It’s a big step up from Oakland and Tampa Bay.”
The Bengals are not the Raiders nor are they the Bucs. Cincinnati is, on paper, the best team in the AFC North, one stronger than the Browns at multiple positions. Cleveland has a chance to make a big statement on Thursday.
Cleveland Browns Week 10 NFL power rankings: Washington Post
Mark Maske has a little faith in Cleveland per his NFL power rankings. He also makes an interesting point about the Browns: “They didn’t exactly clean up during a stretch of games as far from imposing as possible, losing to the Jaguars and then struggling to beat the Raiders and Buccaneers. Every time Johnny Manziel time seems to be nearing, Brian Hoyer manages to do something to keep himself entrenched as the Browns’ QB.”
Johnny Football remains in the background waiting for his chance to shine. Should head coach Mike Pettine consider giving Manziel a series in the first half of Thursday’s game? Hoyer has consistently been below average in the opening 30 minutes of contests. Perhaps Manziel could offer the Cleveland offense a spark during a contest in which the Browns won’t win if they are thoroughly outplayed in either half.