Regular Season? Over. Postseason? Here. After a season filled with injuries, controversy, and adversity the Cleveland Browns found a way to get into the tournament. The road to Las Vegas starts this Saturday, as Cleveland will travel back to Houston to take on the Houston Texans in a rematch of the Week 16 matchup from earlier this season.
Leading up to the game, there will be headlines created by the media for the buildup to Saturday. What could those headlines be?
Which team is selling the “Nobody believes in us.”, “Us against the world mindset”
Of course when it comes to the postseason, you can always count on teams utilizing a technique that has been effective since the beginning of time. The “underdog, no one believes in us” tactic. Effective and useful.
After the Texans won their game against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night and won the division on Sunday by virtue of the Jacksonville Jaguars losing to the Tennessee Titans, the energy has shifted. The underdog? The betting line says it is Houston. They are starting to embrace that. Rookie Quarterback C.J. Stroud has done just that, and people are starting to run with it.
The way CJ Stroud said, “We have no chance? Alright.” when the boys on the Pat McAfee show told him nobody thinks the Texans can beat the Browns: pic.twitter.com/nXLFxhWwRl— James Roy (@n1texansfan) January 8, 2024
I disagree with Coleridge (CJ’s first name).
Houston has a chance (just like everyone else) if they didn’t have a chance the point spread wouldn’t be as low as it is. Also, no one in Cleveland has remotely said anything close (most Browns fans are scared of Stroud).
As for the Browns, safety Juan Thornhill pretty much sums up how most people are feeling.
I really don’t care who we play or where we play them.— The Chosen Juan ♂️ (@Juan_Thornhill) December 31, 2023
Defensive end Ogbo Okoronkwo and cornerback Greg Newsome have embraced the “Cleveland vs Everybody” mindset.
THATS FOR YOU CLEVELAND WE NOT DONE YET— Greg Newsome II (@gnewsii) December 29, 2023
Both teams have been embracing the underdog role for the entire season but Cleveland has had to overcome a ton of adversity, from losing their franchise quarterback, their starting running back, both starting offensive tackles and their backup right tackle along with their starting strong safety (who could return) and a number of key reserves. In terms of who is selling the underdog role, give me Cleveland.
How much time will be focused on quarterback Deshaun Watson
It was going to be a talking point, so let’s discuss. Deshaun Watson was at one point the franchise quarterback for the Texans. Watson was with the team for 4 years, two of which resulted in playoff appearances.
Has the trade been a failure? No, despite what people might think. It hasn’t been a smooth ride, for sure. Before Watson suffered his season-ending injury to his shoulder, Watson was trending upward before the injury despite the inconsistent stat line.
It's pretty easy to understand the Watson bashing from a personal perspective, strictly on the field... from Week 3-10 Last 4 starts including the 5 snaps vs. IND):— Cory (@fakecorykinnan) December 29, 2023
8th in EPA/play (.158)
9th in CPOE (4.7)
6th-lowest TWP% (.8%)
and the Browns are 5-1 when he started this year? https://t.co/WNxxm1zX8M
It will be a talking point, despite Watson not even playing in this game. If Cleveland didn’t make the trade, who knows where this team would be here if Houston didn’t draft CJ Stroud, who knows where they would be.
Both teams are doing fine with the decisions they made and as for Watson there’s no point discussing him or the trade but look for the media to do that.
Can head coach Kevin Stefanski beat the “can’t win a playoff game allegations”
Go back to 2020. The Browns made the playoffs that season. It was also Kevin Stefanski’s first year with the Browns. However, he wasn’t able to coach in the Wild Card round against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Why? COVID.
Stefanski wasn’t able to coach the team for their playoff win. He was back for the divisional round against the Kansas City Chiefs. Stefanski might have not been there for that game but he was responsible for creating the game plan necessary for the win.
Times have changed. Stefanski will be on the sidelines this Saturday, and he will be going against Demeco Ryans once again. It will be interesting to see how the Browns head coach approaches this game, considering that these teams have already played each other with a Cleveland victory. How will the gameplans be adjusted?
Will Stefanski beat the allegations of being incapable of winning a playoff game? We will see this Saturday.