About the Author
Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
The Browns finally broke through with a victory Sunday. It wasn't easy — the Bengals cut a Cleveland lead that was as large as 13 points to three points with 10:44 left in the game and outgained Cleveland 413-295 — but it reflected the team's playmaking ability in all three phases of the game. On offense, the Browns established a stout ground game with Peyton Hillis as the focal point. The defense didn't play well at times but did notch four sacks and force two turnovers. And OLB Scott Fujita's blocked field goal in the second quarter was one of the most important plays of the game.
After a win like that, and after four games in which the Browns have been very competitive, head coach Eric Mangini's job security doesn't figure to be a hot-button issue this week.
In the last eight games dating back to last season, the Browns are 5-3, and they could be 8-0. The Browns' three losses this season were by seven points or less, and they led in the fourth quarter in each game. Think of how far they have come since they dropped 11 of their first 12 games in Mangini's tenure.
The Browns' next three games are imposing ones. They host the Falcons Sunday, then travel to Pittsburgh on Oct. 17. Their final game before the Week Eight bye is at New Orleans on Oct. 24.
However, given what we have seen of Cleveland in the first quarter of the season, the Browns are likely to be competitive. The Falcons are 3-1, but they were fortunate to beat winless San Francisco Sunday. The Steelers will be working QB Ben Roethlisberger back into the lineup. The Saints were pushed to the limit to beat the winless Panthers in Week Four.
The Browns are a club contenders probably don't want to face right now. Their physicality cannot be questioned. Their running game is strong. They are more talented than a season ago. They have been competitive in every game this season, and against some quality competition. No one, it must be noted, has come closer to beating the Chiefs, the NFL's lone unbeaten team.