Good morning, Cleveland Browns fans, and welcome to gameday! Be sure to check out our game preview and prediction for the Browns' Week 4 contest today against the Cincinnati Bengals. In this week's edition of "The Sunday Five," I talk about a new mascot debuting for Cleveland, former Browns running back Trent Richardson possibly having a big day against the Jaguars, and more.
I have heard a lot about the gameday improvements for the Browns, but this is the first I've heard about a new mascot. Earlier today, the Browns tweeted the following teaser, which indicates that a new "Brownie the Elf" mascot will debut tomorrow against the Cincinnati Bengals:
I'll be curious to see how the new mascot looks. Also, does this mean we've seen the end of Chomps, or will the two work with each other? Last season, a lot of fans expressed their displeasure with Chomps being the team's mascot.
Running back Trent Richardson didn't have much of an impact last week against the 49ers, but he is poised to get a lot of attention this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. First, Ahmad Bradshaw, who out-shined Richardson last week, is out with an injury. Second, the Jaguars have the 32nd ranked run defense in the league.
In terms of publicity, I'm a little annoyed about the possibility of Cleveland losing to Cincinnati and Richardson having a huge day against Jacksonville, because you know the media would let us hear about it. The Jaguars/Colts game takes place at 1:00 PM EST, so be sure to check Richardson's stat line throughout the game if you're curious about his productivity.
I don't want people to get the wrong idea about my feelings for quarterback Brian Hoyer. I was really impressed with what he brought to the table last week, and I'd love nothing more than for him to become some magical quarterback who helps resurrect this offense. I have to tame my expectations after just one game, though, and I need to see how Brandon Weeden looks with Josh Gordon in 2013, after the chemistry they showed in the preseason.
With the quick turnaround against the Bills this Thursday, though, I think we will see Hoyer start three straight games, unless he completely bombs against the Bills. After those three starts, Rob Chudzinski can make a more "fan-appeasing decision" -- if Hoyer continues to look good, it makes sense to stick with him; if the offense falters over the next two games, it makes sense to go back to Weeden. This looks like a win-win for Chudzinski.
What are the division implications in the AFC North for the Browns this week? The Bengals take on the Browns, the Ravens will be on the road to face the Bills, and the Steelers play the Vikings in London. Those seem like easy matchups for Baltimore and Pittsburgh, so Cleveland would need to win to avoid falling to the basement of the division. If the Browns win, though, they could find themselves in second place in the division. Losing would drop them to 0-2 in the division, which hurts because it means you're fighting an uphill battle up until the later half of the season.
I missed on too many of my gameday inactives last week, so let's scrub that from the record books. Three players are ruled out for the Browns this week, so I only need to get four of the inactives right to be perfect this week. Here are my guesses for the Browns' gameday inactives against the Bengals (there are seven inactives required): QB Brandon Weeden, TE Keavon Milton, OL Patrick Lewis, OT Martin Wallace, DE Billy Winn, OLB Jabaal Sheard, OLB Quentin Groves. My projection has OG Shawn Lavuao making his debut and K Billy Cundiff being ready-to-go.