It was only three weeks ago this Sunday, the Cleveland Browns were feeling pretty good. One quarter into their game, the Browns were feeling great leading the Cincinnati Bengals 13-0.
Then, the Bengals’ 31-point second quarter happened and before you could shotgun that entire case of Christmas Ale to help you forget, the Browns lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars in consecutive weeks.
Moreover, quarterbacks Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden suffered concussions in consecutive weeks.
And now, the Browns came real close to starting something called an Alex Tanney or Caleb Hanie at quarterback. Jason Campbell will start Sunday’s game.
At warp speed, the season went from potentially leading the AFC North to the typical — and somewhat traditional — late-December doldrums. It coincides with three of the Browns’ final four games on the road beginning Sunday at AFC East leading New England.
It’s sad the season has arrived at this all-too-familiar point with another 4-12 or 5-11 season staring them right in the face. Nov. 17 wasn’t that long ago. We all awoke that morning thinking the Browns actually had a shot at an AFC North title and a playoff berth.
Now thinking about having those topics of discussion with this team is laughable.
Instead, we return to the familiar late-December topic: Should the Browns even try to win these games?
It’s hard to look into the eyes of competitors like Joe Thomas or Joe Haden and ask them to tank. Roger Dorn these players are not.
As fans, it’s hard not too look at past pointless December games and see the Browns earn a meaningless victory or two only to lose key draft position the following spring.
The Browns will try to win Sunday’s game. Can they?
The good news for the Browns is that New England has had its troubles this year. The team’s wide receiver situation has been dire. Not Mohammed Massaquoi-Brian Robsikie-Chansi Stucky dire, but close.
Defensively, the Patriots suffered season-ending injuries to defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo.
Yet it hasn’t mattered much. New England is further proof that if you find a franchise quarterback you can overcome anything.
Tom Brady has had nothing to work with when it comes to his wide outs. His one tight end, Aaron Hernandez, is in jail while his other tight end, Rob Gronkowski, has battled injuries. Brady is still completing 60.7 percent of his passes for 3,267 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Despite the injuries on defense, the Patriots are still 9-3 and slated second in the AFC playoff picture.
The last time the Patriots played the Browns was 2010. New England came to Cleveland at 6-1 and the much better team on paper.
The Browns won 34-14.
This game is at New England where the Patriots are unbeaten in six games this season. Brady appears to be playing better of late at the same time the Browns defense is giving up game-winning 80-yard drives to Chad Henne and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It doesn’t look good for the Browns. Then again, it hasn’t looked good for the Browns since that second quarter in Cincinnati.