Reminding a Browns fan what winning feels like: Week 13 Recap

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wild and crazy Week 13 has come to a close, so Will and Derek are back with their unsolicited opinions on the week’s action, including the Seahawks shutting down Minnesota, the Browns reaching a low point, Carolina staying undefeated, more NFC East comedy, the Gentlemen of the Week, and the Most Hungover Fan Bases.

AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt

AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt

Will: Please relate to me what it’s like to see your favorite team win a 31-point blowout. Honestly, what is that like? The Browns won two different games by 21 points last season, but by now those feel like distant memories. Cleveland is in dark, dark football times. Regale me, if you would, with tales of glee from the winners’ circle.

Derek: It’s fun! Really glorious. It removes the shameful stress that comes with getting upset watching a bunch of people I’ll probably never meet playing a game. The Vikings just didn’t stand a chance. The only thing that made it stressful was Seattle’s penchant for blowing games in the fourth quarter. Sure, there was no reason to think that would happen based on what was going on on the field, but the Seahawks would be the team to break new ground in fourth quarter failure. But other than that, it’s all smiles and fist pumps.

On a grander scale, this is the first time since Week 1 that I’ve felt like the Seahawks could be Super Bowl contenders. They lost a home primetime game to the Cardinals, gave up approximately 1,200 yards to Ben Roethlisberger last week, and there’s nothing impressive about beating the 49ers twice. But badly beating the previously 8-3 Vikings, in Minnesota, in a dreaded 10 a.m. PT start time, makes me feel good for the first time in a while. The NFC West may be out of reach at this point, but the fifth or sixth seed looks more and more likely.

Joshua Gunter/

Joshua Gunter/

You’ve pointed how rough things are in Cleveland right now. They’re probably worse than usual, and that’s saying something. How are you approaching the rest of the season? Are you trying to buy back in on the re-installed Johnny Manziel? Looking at mock drafts? Making voodoo dolls of various members of Browns management? Skipping the games altogether and dreaming about the Cavs? What’s your method? And are we going to have to fight when Cleveland and Seattle play in Week 15?

Will: I’ll be watching the Browns like a stoned dude staring at a bonfire. I don’t have the patience, energy, or creativity to bother fantasy booking a new front office. I haven’t looked at any mock drafts yet, but I have become increasingly familiar with the top five or so prospects. I’m not going to bother getting mad; it’d be like getting mad at an infant for shitting his pants. You and I aren’t going to fight at all in Week 15. I might be relying on you to tell me what happens after I fall asleep at halftime.

I really can’t overstate how little I’m into this NFL season. It’s a perfect storm of awfulness. The Browns are extra miserable. A bunch of other teams are bad and/or boring. There are FanDuel ads everywhere — not as many lately, or have I just been watching less? Players’ heads are exploding and Will Smith is trying to fix it with an African accent. It’s all too much to bear.

And yet we press on! Is Seattle’s big win a commentary on the Vikings’ overall talent and ability, or is the Seahawks’ defense just a bad matchup for a run-dependent offense like Minnesota’s?

Derek: I think you nailed it with the latter point. The Seahawks were able to focus on Adrian Peterson and the passing attack didn’t really stand a chance at that point. Seattle’s pass defense has been much better since the demotion (and now release) of Cary Williams. And yes, I am aware that the Steelers torched the Seahawks last week. At least there weren’t receivers running completely uncovered through the secondary. Teddy Bridgewater isn’t exactly Ben Roethlisberger, either, and Stefon Diggs and Mike Wallace aren’t Antonio Brown or Martavis Bryant.

It will be interesting to see how the Vikings respond when they play the Cardinals on Thursday night. The Seahawks and Cardinals are similar in many ways, and if the Vikings get blown out again, we can safely cross them off the list of contenders.

Speaking of which, are there any contenders you’ve crossed off after this week? Were the performances of teams like the Patriots and Packers at all troubling?

Will: The injuries that led to those performances are more concerning than the performances themselves. Even Rodgers and Brady don’t look the same throwing to the likes of Davante Adams and Brandon LaFell. I’m still not counting either side out, as having the better quarterback is still like 95 percent of football. As for teams I’m willing to cross off in terms of Super Bowl contention: Minnesota (too one-dimensional), Denver (sry Brock), the whole NFC East and AFC South (obvs), and Cincinnati (Dalton? Still pfft.). 

Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports

Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers, though…I’m coming around on the Panthers. How many quarterbacks would you rather have than Cam Newton right now? How about for the next five years?

Derek: Let’s see … right now, off the top of my head and in no particular order, I’d take Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, and probably still Andrew Luck if he were healthy. For the next three years, I’d probably take all of those guys except Palmer and maybe Brady, and I’d consider adding Winston and/or Mariota. Though as I’ve said before, Newton irritates me so I’m a little biased against him. You have to give him credit for what the Panthers have accomplished, though. I thought the Panthers would suck because their receivers aren’t good and Jonathan Stewart is fragile. They would not have been anywhere near the top of my list of teams that could start 12-0. And now that the Falcons are imploding, they’ve got a much easier road to 16-0. They’ll be must-see in the playoffs.

Do you see the Panthers losing any of their remaining games?

Will: Probably, just so Chris Berman can ejaculate when they play the champagne cork sound effect — sources tell me that’s his only get-off of the year. As things stand, however, I probably wouldn’t pick them to lose any single game. They have the free-falling Falcons in Weeks 14 and 16. That leaves at the Giants in Week 15 and home for Tampa to close the season. In order of losing likelihood, I’d say it goes Giants, Bucs, then a canyon, then the Falcons. To hell with the Falcons — they’re my arbitrary least favorite team.

Who is your favorite relatively-out-of-nowhere star this season? Is it your boy Tom Rawls? Jacksonville’s Allen Robinson (or Hurns)? Mighty Gary Barnidge?

Derek: I’ve definitely got to give it to Thomas Rawls. He’s been going Rawls to the wall. Rawls deep. Nobody can put our Rawls in a vice. I follow this team pretty closely, and I thought it would take more than a Lynch injury to get him in the game. I thought the roles would be reversed in the case of a Lynch injury, with Fred Jackson handling the lead back duties and Rawls in a complimentary role. I know some people might bust my Rawls for this pick, but he’s so much better than I thought he would be. How did he not get drafted?


Alex Brandon/Associated Press

The NFC East apocalypse nearly happened! The Eagles won, but the Cowboys took down the Redskins and helped muck up the amusing NFC East race. Do you think it’s better to bottom out, or win a crappy division with almost no shot at winning the Super Bowl (unless it’s the Giants)?

Will: In the NFL, I’d say win a crappy division. Getting in the playoffs is hard enough that it’s still an accomplishment (said the Browns fan), and you never know. Any team can go on a random run. Look at last year’s Browns! My view is a bit warped, as the only bottoming out I know is perpetual. Bottoming out for a year like the Colts did would be nice. Losing that much for just one season would hold novelty value. It isn’t as cute when you’re 15-plus years into it. 

I’m sayin’, man, dark times.

Say, what member of your family would have to be taken hostage in order for you to watch Browns-Niners live next week? The Browns stadium was maybe 60 percent full for the Bengals game, with a substantial chunk comprised of Cincinnati fans. Any estimates for next week’s attendance?

Derek: Funny you should ask! I’m writing all of this over the Pacific Ocean, as I’m going to spend the next week at home in North Carolina. As it happens, someone scheduled a family gathering on Sunday. So, actually, several members of my family are holding me hostage to keep me from watching that game (or any other) live. Naturally, I’ll get to watch more football in Korea when the early games start at 3 a.m. than I will in America.

I’ll say the stadium attendance will fall down to 40%-50% full. I don’t think there are too many Niner fans in Ohio, and if there are, I don’t know that they’d be willing to shell out their hard-earned money to watch this one. If Travis Benjamin is out, there may not even be any fantasy implications other than Gary Barnidge. And I have to think there aren’t many people out there who would actually be willing to gamble on this game. So yeah, the slim chance that I would pay any attention to it have pretty much evaporated. How about you? Are you going to put yourself through that?

Will: I don’t have a ticket, but I’m at least going to be tailgating beforehand. In its own special way, this is the most fun part of the season. There’s also a decent chance a ticket will find me before Sunday. We’re deep into Free Ticket Season — I went each of the last two weeks without giving the franchise a dollar. That’s the kind of support I can believe in right now.

Let’s hand out this week’s hardware.

Gentlemen of the Week

Derek: Am I allowed to give out the Gentlemen of the Week to a woman? Feel free to overrule, but I’m giving our first Lady of the Week award to that woman standing behind the goalpost Antonio Brown assaulted. As I understand it, she’s not pressing charges for the inadvertent hair pull. She’d have every right to after Brown’s completely uncalled-for … well, whatever that was. thought the best word was “gymnastics.” There has to be a better one. Anyway, she was a good sport about being immortalized via GIF on national television. That’s Ladylike in my book.

Will: I’ll allow it. It is about time we award GotW to a woman, isn’t it? Shame on us for not doing so sooner.

I’m going with Johnny Manziel, only because he got the starting job back and I want him to win an award before he does something stupid to lose it again.

Most Hungover Fan Bases

Derek: I’ll say Rams fans, if there are any left. The team might leave the city and they look like they’ve completely quit. Not only that, but they might have the least enviable quarterback situation in the league, and that’s tough to do. It’ll be a while before the Cardinals start playing again, and until then, those masochist still watching the Rams will have plenty of reasons to drink.

Will: Philly. They beat the Pats on the road in the most surprising result of the day. Based on my time there, that isn’t the sort of achievement that’s going to be forgotten without a little celebration.

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