The 2014 Cleveland Browns are one of the more positive stories in the National Football League. A team that has largely been a NFL laughingstock is in first place in the AFC North standings in the middle of November, and northeast Ohio is the center of the sports universe thanks to the Browns and to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
There remain plenty of questions about the future of the Browns moving forward. Quarterback Brian Hoyer is winning while under center, but he also isn’t lighting up scoreboards or stat sheets. Hoyer is keeping rookie phenom Johnny Manziel a spectator for now, but Hoyer has not yet proven himself worthy of being the team’s starting QB past this December.
The Browns playing January football could keep Hoyer, a hometown hero, in Cleveland on a long-term deal.
Cleveland Browns Week 11 NFL power rankings: Frank Schwab
The Shutdown Corner guru points out that the Browns will, on paper, only get better over the next couple of weeks:
“After one more game, a 6-3 first-place team will be adding the most productive receiver in the entire NFL over the 2013 season. No playoff contender is making an addition like Josh Gordon. Not even close.”
Expecting that Gordon will immediately be the player that he was last season once his current suspension is up may be a bit unfair. There is bound to be some rust, as Gordon hasn’t taken the football field for meaningful action since August. Don’t be shocked if Gordon needs some time to adjust to once again being a professional football player.
Cleveland Browns Week 11 NFL power rankings: Sports Xchange
Yet another set of NFL power rankings points to the return of a certain Cleveland wide receiver: “All alone atop their division for the first time since 1994 with wide receiver Josh Gordon due back in two weeks.”
The truth of the matter is that nobody outside of those within the Browns organization knows what we will see from Gordon during the closing stretch of the regular season. He has been out of sight and out of mind, which isn’t a bad thing. At least Gordon has kept himself out of trouble over the past several months.
Here is hoping that trend continues moving forward.
Cleveland Browns Week 11 NFL power rankings: Hank Gola
Gola is asking readers to spend time thinking about the fact that the Browns are alone atop the division standings at this point of the campaign. It truly is remarkable, but now Cleveland must prove that it has staying power. These Browns have not yet shown that they can handle winning. The loss to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars from earlier this season was a gut-punch defeat when it seemed as if the Browns had momentum. Beating the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football was nice, but that victory will quickly lose its luster if the Browns fall to the Houston Texans at home.
Cleveland Browns Week 11 NFL power rankings: John Dudley
“Alone in first place in the AFC North, the Browns — wait for it — control their playoff destiny with seven weeks to go,” writes Dudley in his latest NFL power rankings. Four of Cleveland’s seven final regular season contests will be on the road. Included in that stretch of games are trips to Atlanta, Buffalo, Carolina and Baltimore. All four of those teams are, right now today, in the playoff hunt. It is undeniably an exciting time to be a fan of the Browns right now.
That said, those in Cleveland shouldn’t be making postseason plans just yet.
Cleveland Browns Week 11 NFL power rankings: Pete Prisco
Prisco gives some love to first-time head coach Mike Pettine, saying that Pettine has done “a heck of a job” in leading the Browns to a 6-3 record. Pettine would not, if votes were counted today, win Coach of the Year. That award would go to Bruce Arians of the Arizona Cardinals. Pettine has, as Prisco put it, done a heck of a job in turning Cleveland around, and the Browns may actually (finally) have a coach who is able to stick around for more than a couple of years.