Not many people are giving the Cleveland Browns a fighting chance this season but the NFL is all about parity and surprises. The Browns will have their first opportunity to prove that point in Week 1 when the Philadelphia Eagles visit.
The Browns find themselves as a whopping nine-point underdog on the NFL odds and while head coach Pat Shurmur and the players don’t really care about that number, it is a telling sign about perception. The Browns are expected to get smoked at home.
Even so, with the Browns playing at home, anything can happen. Yes, even the Browns can surprise Philadelphia – and everyone else.
For starters, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is about as durable as a toothpick. If the Browns can get to him and test out his sore ribs, he might not even be able to finish the game. Although injuring a quarterback is a pretty extreme strategy to get a win (unless you’re Gregg Williams), it’s still a reality given how often Vick is hurt.
The Eagles are hardly a team that plays to expectations, as evidenced last season. Around this time a year ago, they were supposed to be the “Dream Team” but they actually were just 1-4 after five weeks of action. They eventually ended up with ugly losses in Seattle and at home to Arizona, so don’t count out the impossible.
Cleveland didn’t look great in the preseason and rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden was up and down. Even so, his confidence is unwavering and the team is slowly adapting that type of personality. They should get a boost in the backfield with running back Trent Richardson and if that duo can move the chains, control the clock and keep this game close into the fourth quarter, anything is possible.
The Browns might be big underdogs but they were 3-5 at home last season with three of those losses coming by a combined 15 points. Don’t be surprised if they’re in the game on Sunday. In the NFL, anything is possible.