Yes and no. We have seen a season (2010) where the Browns didn’t contend and they beat both the Patriots and Saints, confidence abounded, only to see a team decimated by other mediocre teams.
On the other hand, even without Gordon and Cameron, this Browns team is more athletic and no longer do they constantly look overwhelmed by other teams.
Watching Brian Hoyer seemed different. He was competent and put together a high-pressure, clutch drive that felt different. Truthfully, watching the game, it felt like he could do it; the game did not feel like another near miss, another moment of heartbreak. It felt like this was his moment — our moment.
Which brings us to week three: The Browns get the Ravens at home with a chance to put up a “screw-you, we are relevant win” in front of the pound.
So in brevity, I will present three reasons why the Browns will win on Sunday:
- The Browns Running Game Versus the Ravens Run Defense: The Browns have two of the top 12 running backs in the NFL in DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). West is ranked eleventh and Isaiah Crowell is ranked second. What does this mean? The Browns running backs, combined with a thoroughly impressive line as well as an effectively structured blocking scheme, has turned the Browns into an elite running football team. The Ravens defense, while decent, isn’t particularly stout against the run, sitting at 13th against the run. This is a significant edge and will continue to allow the Browns to use play action effectively. Secondarily, Isaiah Crowell is the most talented running back on this team, he is going to pop and is the future of this running game. Considering West’s abilities, this is an audacious assertion but EYARDS(DVOA translated into a yards figure) and Success Rate are far better, borderline awesome through two games and to the eyes, he is equally alluring.
- Andrew Hawkins is pretty good: Having success when you are a slot guy and being relied upon as the number one option is fairly impressive. Pro Football Focus rated him out with +2.5, and he simply finds a way to get open, as well as being squirmy enough to pick up some yards after the catch. Hawkins, with practically no talent to stretch the field around him, has grabbed multiple 20-plus yard plays, which speaks to his big-play ability. Lastly is comfort, Hawkins has an obvious rapport with Hoyer and one can’t help but dream of Cameron, Gordon and Hawk being on the field at the same time.
- A Dawg Pound that has been fed: The Browns are coming off a huge win in a home opener with both the Ravens and Steelers looking like they are in play. The atmosphere will be loud and vicious, with the hope being the fans keep it classy but vicious. Simply put, fans and the team have gotten a taste and it was sweet, so they will both be coming back for more.
Final Score: Browns 24, Ravens 17