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Cleveland Browns 2012 Prediction - A Sailor's Perspective

Yep, I'm going on deployment soon, fellas. Just over two weeks away. And what does that mean for me? Yet another season away from one of my most beloved and passionate hobbies in my life, Cleveland Browns football. No matter how painful, no matter how boring, I miss spending each Sunday in the fall either basking or gloating in the Browns glory or failure. Either way it doesn't really matter because I just love it that much. Much like a true friend or spouse, accepting imperfection is just as important as pursuing perfection.

So here I am about to miss yet another season. I only had two real tastes of Browns football last year. I was able to go to the Browns first preseason game against the Packers, but aside from the unproven optimism we're feeling today there wasn't much to cheer for at the time. Once I was out of boot camp and in my A-school (apprenticeship school where you learn your specific rate/job) in Meridian, MS I watched our game against the 49ers at a Buffalo Wild Wings, but we all know how crummy that game turned out to be (surpising how no one in the south knew what B-dubs meant.) I followed some of the late season games via internet, but as you can imagine that was hardly the same.

This season I'm going to miss a lot more games. I can only hope I have internet access often enough throughout the season to at least know the scores as we go week-to-week. If not then so be it. I'm not so biased enough to expect Super Bowls each and every offseason. Of course we are all hopeful, but any of us would be crazy not to be at least somewhat realistic after this past decade and beyond. Our odds even getting to the playoffs are slim to none at this point.

In fact, the main reason why I began this post is that I recently heard Colin Cowherd mention on his talk radio show that the Vegas betting odds on us are the worst in the league. Even teams like Jacksonville, Indianapolis, and Tampa Bay are at least favored in a few games minimum. But the Browns? Not a one. I've been trying to find a link for extra information on this, but haven't been able to find one. If you find something please feel free to share.

I've seen our odds on our Super Bowl chances which is tied with others at a league worst 1/200, but what I heard on The Herd was detailing game-by-game odds. Of course Cowherd isn't the most trustworthy voice in sports. Hell, one of the reasons why I love Michelle Beadle so much (aside from being drop dead gorgeous, incredibly genius, and humbly down-to-Earth) is watching her prove him wrong on a daily basis on Sports Nation even though the majority of SN viewers seem to side with Cowherd for whatever ridiculous reason.

So in light of all the major changes we've made in the past season or two, it just seems impossible to me that we will be the worst team in the NFL, let alone not win a single game. Could we end up being another top-5 draft pick team in 2013? Yeah, that could definitely happen with our 4th-most-difficult NFL schedule, and with even more young talent we'll be thrusting into immediate competition for starting roles. Yet nothing we're not already used to, right? What I hope we're able to accomplish is a solid, full season of real progress.

Honestly, deep down a part of me feels ashamed. Ashamed that I'm so willing at this point to put McCoy on the bench to thrust Weeden into the starting role immediately. I've supported Colt ever since we drafted him. I hated the Brady Quinn signing the moment it happened so it's not that I have a 1st-round QB bias. It's just in Colt, even though an under-sized, weak-armed 3rd round pick, I still held hope that he would lead us to glory all the way up to a month before this offseasons draft if only because of his die-hard football qualities.

You may recall my undying love for Colt in my post from last year's Independence Day when he appeared to have a productive rookie season, and of course everything seems more promising on a national holiday such as that. Then there was my post from this past December when I was honestly just blindly supporting his 2011 performance from stats alone without any true perspective on his play-by-play decision making skills since I didn't get to watch him week-to-week. It even took me into deep March to be open to the idea of drafting Griffin, regardless what we gave up to get him. Things just felt right when we first drafted Colt, you know? Maybe I'm still too young, and I just don't understand the game well enough? Maybe it's that brief Charlie Frye/Derek Anderson fandom that has left me blind as opposed to seeing truly great Cleveland leadership like with Bernie?

Anyway, the first two minutes after we drafted Brandon Weeden were really confusing to me. That ended pretty quickly, however. After that I was pretty confident that he's a guy who at the very least has a legitimate shot at keeping us pretty competitive on a week-to-week basis. Maybe I'm misjudging him like the others throughout this decade, but I feel like he's similar to a Derek Anderson just with better mental stability or a Kelly Holcomb without the suedo-crazy HC messing with his confidence. It seems pretty evident that even with Pro Bowl play-maker talent around Colt that we may not be all that great, but at least with Weeden's skill sets if we had that support with him there's no reason we wouldn't be a 8-8 or 9-7 team at a minimum.

So without further ado - yeah bare with me with this long post. Drinking Crown & Coke all night in addition to preparing myself from being away from NFL football and this website for 6 months is taking it's toll on my social life - here is my expectations for our Cleveland Browns 2012 regular season schedule:

Sun 9/9

Philadelphia Eagles

1:00 pm - Loss; Phillies are just too talented and we're too underdeveloped at this point.

Sun 9/16

@ Cincinnati Bengals

1:00 pm - Loss; Cincinnati is still young, but are more consistent than us at this point.

Sun 9/23

Buffalo Bills

1:00 pm - Win; Not just because it's Buffalo, but I expect it to be a close game, and typically close games go to the home team.

Thu 9/27

@ Baltimore Ravens

8:20 pm - Loss; We won't be winning either game against the Ravens this year. It's that simple.

Sun 10/7

@ New York Giants

1:00 pm - Loss; Not just because they're Super Bowl champs, but also having one of the most dominant DLs in the NFL it just won't happen. This isn't a 2007 repeat.

Sun 10/14

Cincinnati Bengals

1:00 pm - Win; I think Cinci will be a good 4-1 at this point and will lose a tough one against us at home since they're young enough to underestimate an inferior divisional opponent.

Sun 10/21

@ Indianapolis Colts

1:00 pm - Win; Andrew Luck will likely be great one day, but Indi is going through more turmoil than us at this point. A lot more turmoil. I think our D will dominate well enough at the least.

Sun 10/28

San Diego Chargers

1:00 pm - Loss; Living in San Diego for the past 6 months I've developed a better understanding how terrible they are in the clutch. There's a lot of Chargers fans, but the urgency just isn't there. If they lose, it's "meh" to them. However, they'll still be a better regular season team.

Sun 11/4

Baltimore Ravens

1:00 pm - Loss; I repeat, we will not win a game against the Ravens this season. Unless half their starting defense is plagued with injuries it's just not going to happen, unfortunately.

Bye

Sun 11/18

@ Dallas Cowboys

1:00 pm - Loss; Seeing as how the Cowboys will have a pretty difficult first half of their season too, I expect we'll be a rebound game for them. This could be one of those surprise games, but more likely than not it won't happen.

Sun 11/25

Pittsburgh Steelers

1:00 pm - Win; Maybe I'm going out on a limb here, but Pittsburgh will be coming off of 5 prime time games out of their 10 they've played to this point, including the 2 games they just played. I don't think they will be mentally prepared for us. Each team will be beat up sure, but so long as we're healthy enough with our key play-makers we should top them here. I think this is where Richardson will prove his future dominance in the AFC North.

Sun 12/2

@ Oakland Raiders

4:15 pm - Loss; This game could easily come down to the kicking game as it typically does, but playing in Oakland - no matter the circumstances - is always pretty difficult for us. This is another one of those iffy games depending on our overall health, but assuming Palmer is pretty well settled in at this point I just don't think we'll be capable of beating them.

Sun 12/9

Kansas City Chiefs

1:00 pm - Win; Brian Daboll and Peyton Hills.

Sun 12/16

Washington Redskins

1:00 pm - Loss; Luck will have the better NFL career, but Griffin will have a better rookie season. They just faced the Eagles, Cowboys, Giants, and Ravens. They'll be hungry and I think they're decent enough not to go on a 5-game losing streak.

Sun 12/23

@ Denver Broncos

4:05 pm - Loss; Peyton Manning will be comfortable.

Sun 12/30

@ Pittsburgh Steelers

1:00 pm - Loss; I expect the Ravens will lead the AFC North this year. Maybe even the Bengals. Either way, I think the Steelers will be fighting for a wild card at this point. Although aging at key positions, they still have a strong enough nucleus to fight us off early in the 4th quarter.

So I expect we'll be one game better than last season. The exact games could easily be different, but I don't see us doing any better than 6-10 or any worse than 4-12. Yeah, I could be way off, but we all could be, right? Maybe we will go 0-16 like the Vegas odds suggest? But it's just one of those seasons, you know? We're still rebuilding especially with so many first to second year players on offense. I thought 8-8 was completely legit last season with Colt McCoy, but even with a relatively easy schedule we struggled mightily. Yeah, 2011 was not a normal NFL season by any standard, but is that really a legitimate excuse?

All in all, I just want to see some productivity. I want to see these young DTs we drafted develop into solid rotational guys with Phil Taylor likely on IR by training camp. I want to see Richardson crack at least 1,000 yards rushing and 400 yards receiving with maybe a dozen TDs either way. I want to see Weeden compete on every single play with proper mechanics and a confident poise under center no matter our record. I want to see Jackson develop into more of a play-maker as well as tackling machine unlike Andra Davis was. I want to see TJ Ward stay healthy and aggressive. I want to see Haden make a few more interceptions along with all his deflected passes. I want our right side of the line to develop at least half as good as JT is on his own. And if not most important of all (because what is Cleveland without our tradition at a minimum?) I want us to secure Phil Dawson to a long-term contract until he retires (seriously, what else were you expecting from me?)

I realize obtaining all of these objectives are lofty goals, but bare-minimum we simply just need to develop into a better, overall TEAM. Lets see some more continuity in this profound WCO we've been striving for. WR is still questionable, but there is still enough talent there along with a solid running game that to lay an egg like last season would just be completely inexcusable even with all the new, rookie talent. This has got to be the season where we stomp our foot in the ground, and define ourselves as a force to be reckoned with even if 2-3 years away from being a solid playoff contender. I don't even want to imagine what our future will be without real, definitive improvement this season.

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