"The Sunday Five" is a loosely-titled piece where I talk about five NFL- or Browns-related topics related to this past week. In today's edition, I take a look at the Browns' inability to score against the Colts in the recent past, some other interesting games on the schedule for Week 2, Cleveland's team rankings so far, and how few times the Colts got to the quarterback last week.
Some trends just can't seem to be broken. The Browns, for instance, cannot win on opening day since returning to the league in 1999. Another one of those trends? They can't score touchdowns on the Indianapolis Colts. In 2008, the Browns lost 10-6 to the Colts. In 2005, they lost 13-6 to the Colts. The last time the Browns scored touchdowns against the Colts came in their 2002 matchup. That was when Tim Couch connected on touchdown passes to Kevin Johnson and Quincy Morgan, and William Green ran for a touchdown. The Browns still lost that game. I'm sure the Colts would like to snap out of their skid against Cleveland too, because it has to seem weird to them that Peyton Manning only threw one touchdown in his last two starts against the Browns. Can Kerry Collins do any better?
I like to find the positives in having to settle for the Bengals vs. the Broncos as my late-afternoon game on television. If the Browns defeat the Colts, it'll be interesting to compare how well Cincinnati does against a different team. For all we know, the Bengals could be this year's Buccaneers or Chiefs. Their defense was not too bad last week, and for being a young team, they limited their mistakes and got by playing with Andy Dalton and Bruce Gradkowski under center. I think the Bengals move to 2-0 this week. As for the other division games, the Steelers should roll past the Seahawks, and the Ravens should take out the Titans.
A tough game for me to pick this week was the Oakland Raiders vs. Buffalo Bills matchup. The Bills dominated the Chiefs in Arrowhead last week, while the Raiders went to the Mile High city and took care of business. Both of these teams are looking to get off to a 2-0 start and compete in divisions in which they are underdogs. The Bears vs. the Saints game should also be a dandy. I also expect the Atlanta Falcons to get back on track and be the first team to "upset" everyone's favorites to make the Super Bowl out of the NFC.
We're only heading into the second week of the regular season, but how do the Browns rank offensively, defensively, and on special teams? On offense, they rank 19th running the ball, 21st throwing the ball, and 27th overall. On defense, they rank 24th at stopping the run, are tied for 5th best at stopping the pass, and rank 9th overall. On special teams (offense), their kickoff return average is 8th, and their punt return average is tied for 13th in the league. On special teams (defense), their kickoff coverage is ranked 16th in the league, and their punt coverage is ranked 26th in the league. Those last two rankings just don't seem right.
Do the Colts have a good enough pass rush this year if they fall behind early? Consider this: last week against the Texans, Robert Mathis had one hit on quarterback Matt Schaub. The Colts didn't get any other hits on him. The Bengals, on the other hand, registered six quarterback hits on Colt McCoy. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether this was the result of the Browns' offense line being bad, or the Colts' pass rush being easy to negate this year.