It's that time of year again in Cleveland...time to start looking at the draft and worry about draft positioning!
While many writers on Bleacher Report will start moving in that direction, I steadfastly refuse to start draft talk until after the season.
What is worth discussing though is: Do you root for the Browns to lose to improve their draft position? With the Browns sitting at 2-7 it's a worthy question.
The other part of this topic that has gotten discussed a lot on Cleveland radio is if you'd root for the Browns to lose so that head coach Pat Shurmur will get fired.
I'm on record in the belief that Shurmur is not a good NFL head coach and there's almost no chance of him staying on with the team next season. But there's no way I'd ever root for the Browns to lose just so he gets fired! That's ridiculous.
I've heard some fans "worry" that if the Browns win five of the last seven games that they'll keep Shurmur. While that scenario is very unlikely, if it did happen they would probably be inclined to keep him. This possibility has driven many to root for Browns losses down the stretch.
But ask yourself this: If the Browns were to win five of the last seven games, what would have to happen for that come about?
Probably number one on that list is that Pat Shurmur would need to coach well, especially considering the coaches he'll be going up against in many of those games.
If Shurmur improves enough as a coach to win seven games this season that would at least give some hope that he'll keep improving and become a great coach.
So don't be an idiot—root for the Browns to win. A winning culture is more important than draft positioning or some crazy hypothetical about possibly keeping a coach.
With that said, I don't think the Browns will win five of the last seven and I don't think that Shurmur will be retained as coach. So this may all be a moot argument. All the same, just root for the Browns.
On to this week's picks...
(Gamble at your own risk. The home team is in CAPS. All lines are from SportsBook.com.)
Browns (+7.5) over COWBOYS
I know the Browns aren't good but the Cowboys, at 4-5, aren't blowing the doors off people either. They've only won one game this season by more than seven points and that was last week against the imploding Eagles.
Luckily for the Browns the Cowboys haven't rushed the ball effectively this season without DeMarco Murray and Cleveland will have Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor anchoring the defensive line for the first time this season.
The Browns as a whole are getting healthy coming off the bye week and we should get a good look at just how good this team is in these next several games.
You also have to factor in the "Greg Little is a changed man after talking with Alonzo Mourning" effect and if his speech will galvanize the team.
One more thing, there are few games where I feel that Shurmur is equal as a coach to the guy on the other sideline. This is one of them. Jason Garrett strikes fear in no one.
REDSKINS (-3.5) over Eagles
The Redskins have lost three straight and the Eagles have lost five straight. So somebody's getting off the slide this week.
Statistically the Eagles aren't that bad but in the locker room they appear to be a mess, and they simply aren't coming through on the field with wins. Look for a big game from Robert Griffin III this week and a comfortable Washington win.
Packers (-3.5) over LIONS
This line just seems way too low. In my opinion the Packers are a significantly better team than the Lions who haven't been anything special this year.
Speaking of odd lines for football teams in the state of Wisconsin where I just so happen to reside...
FALCONS (-9.5) over Cardinals
Only three of Atlanta's eight wins this season have come by a margin as big as this line, which gave me some pause when picking them until I realized that during the Cardinals current five game losing streak they've lost games by 14, three, seven, 21 and 14 points. And in most of those games they haven't really even competed.
That 4-0 start for Arizona feels like it was years ago at this point. I don't think they'll be able to hang with Matt Ryan and the Falcons in the Georgia Dome especially playing in the early game on Sunday.
Buccaneers (-1.5) over PANTHERS
Are you aware that Tampa Bay has gone over 30 points five times this season and their 28.9 points per game scoring average is third in the NFL?
The Panthers on the other hand are averaging 18.1 points per game this season, 27th in the NFL, one spot behind the Browns I might add.
Josh Freeman and Doug Martin have been on fire of late while Cam Newton has, well, not been on fire. The Buccaneers have been my sleeper playoff pick all season and I don't see them slowing down this week.
Jets (+3.5) over RAMS
I went back and forth on this one and then realized that trying to figure what these two teams will do week to week is just impossible. Also, no one but Jets fans, Rams fans and Sal Paolantonio cares about this game. So I just took the points.
How's that for analysis?
TEXANS (-15.5) over Jaguars
It's the biggest line of the season so far. I started writing that I was going to take the Jags in this game for various reasons until I looked into it more. The Texans have made a habit of blowing out bad teams this season including a 20-point win in Jacksonville Week 2.
Why would this week be any different?
Also there's a good chance that Chad Henne will get the start for the Jags, about as big a blow to Blaine Gabbert's career as there could be.
Bengals (-3.5) over CHIEFS
I'm pretty excited to go back home to Cleveland this Saturday to spend a week with my family for Thanksgiving. It'll be the first time I've been back since July of 2011 and it'll be the first time my son has ever been in the great state of Ohio where I can further indoctrinate him into the misery that is being a Cleveland sports fan.
And I'm pretty sure that just as many people care about my vacation plans as care about this Bengals/Chiefs game.
Saints (-4.5) over RAIDERS
Don't expect a lot of defense or running in this matchup. The Saints own the second-best passing offense and the 28th rushing offense. The Raiders rank fifth and 31st in passing and rushing respectively.
And I hate having to count on the Raiders to cover a spread, so I might not pick them again this season.
Colts (+9) over PATRIOTS
This game will go one of two ways...
Scenario A: The Colts come out strong as they have the past several weeks and Andrew Luck carves up a very pedestrian Patriot secondary. Tom Brady and the New England offense inexplicably stalls in the fourth quarter leaving the door open for a last minute Colts drive for the tie or win.
Scenario B: The Patriots come out totally motivated putting 35 points on the Colts in the first half and then cruise to an easy 49-21 win.
Brady and Pats offense hasn't been as great this season as we have come to expect of them. That's why I expect Scenario A more. I don't think the Colts will pull out the win but they'll make it interesting. I certainly wouldn't want to be a Pats fan if Luck has the ball with under two minutes to play in a one-score game.
With that said, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Scenario B happened instead.
BRONCOS (-7.5) over Chargers
If we know anything from watching Peyton Manning over the years it's that he preys on dysfunctional teams like this year's Chargers.
Give me Peyton Manning all day.
Ravens (-3.5) over STEELERS
With Ben Roethlisberger out this is about as easy as a pick gets. The Steelers are nothing without Big Ben.
With that said, Joe Flacco will probably throw three picks and they'll only give Ray Rice 14 carries and the Ravens will lose 14-10.
49ERS over Bears
There's no line on this game with the status of both QBs up in the air.
I spent a long time last week breaking down why I loved the Bears as a team this season and then they came out on Sunday night and crapped the bed.
No matter who's out there at QB for either team, I still think I like the 49ers in this matchup. Just too much defense for a Bears offense that is really struggling. And if Cutler is out, then I'm all in for the Niners. We've seen what happens to the Bears when they lose Cutler, and it isn't pretty.
Last Week: 7-6
Browns picks: 4-4-1
You can follow Benjamin Flack on Twitter @ClevelandFlack.