Not in a long time can I remember this much talk between teams heading into a game as there has been leading up to this Sunday’s match-up between the Browns and Ravens. Trent Richardson is going to exchange jerseys with Ray Rice. The Browns think they’re a different team than the one that lost on Thursday night. Trent Richardson is the hardest player to tackle in the league according to the Ravens. Joe Haden thinks he can make a difference since he didn’t play in the last one. The Browns are catching up to the competition in the AFC North according to many Browns players. Talk talk talk talk talk.
None of the talk is particularly inflammatory or trashy. It isn’t the old (hackneyed) bulletin board material. Still, it seems that winning two out of there last three has made the Browns feel like they can talk about where they’re heading instead of being forced to dwell on how far away they are. Isn’t it amazing what an incredibly ugly one-point victory over a team that looked disinterested can do for the psyche of a team? A game of inches, indeed.
I hate to sound snarky or negative about it, but those are the facts. The Browns lost to Indianapolis when they weren’t beating Cincinnati and San Diego. The win over the Bengals was legit in my eyes, but the San Diego game didn’t exactly inspire confidence. You can say that the Browns imposed their will and demoralized the Chargers, but it seems tough to extricate the seeming disinterest and dysfunction on the San Diego sideline from the end result. Plus, after San Diego bounced back against (an admittedly awful) Chiefs team last night, you have to wonder if the Browns loss wasn’t their “rock bottom.”
Even all that being said and as I discount wins just a tad, I’m happy the Browns are talking like a team on the rise. I just hope they can back it up and take advantage of the fact that they get to play the Ravens at home this time without having to match up against Ray Lewis or Lardarius Webb. No, I’m not discounting what could be a win against the Ravens this weekend should it happen. I’m merely pointing out how much worse it would be to have all these feelings of building and heading in a positive direction and maybe even arriving and then fall short.
The talking leads me to believe that falling short isn’t even in their minds. That’s a good thing. With a bye week looming for all the positivity or negativity to fester, we all know what the preference would be. The Browns have talked their way into this game being almost a must-win. Obviously not for the playoffs or anything like that, but let’s just say this might be a must-win for the sanity of the fan-base.