Do they have enough talent to win their division?
Can they challenge for a wild card spot with the talent they have?
Most if not all experts would say no. A lot of luck comes into play in any successful NFL season along with a few emerging stars.
Every year, it seems at least one team picked to do nothing, over comes the odds and makes the playoffs. In the AFC North Division, it’s happened a few times.
Last year the Bengals went from 4-11-1 in 2008 to win the division at 10-6. In 2007 the Ravens finished 5-11. The next year they went 11-5 and made the playoffs as a wild card. Both teams surprised the experts.
Both teams also featured strong running games and good defensive play.
Baltimore did it with a rookie QB who’s job was to manage the game. Last year’s Bengals team saw Carson Palmer do much the same.
Cleveland has the potential for such a turn around. The team finished the ‘09 season with a four game winning streak. The character and heart with which the team displayed was a joy to see.
The Browns are very young at some positions so a little leadership from players like Jake Delhomme, Sheldon Brown and Scott Fujita will mean a lot.
Offensively, Cleveland will look like an AFC North team. The Browns should have a strong running game behind what could be the best offensive line in the division. Jerome Harrison, Josh Cribbs, James Davis, Peyton Hillis and rookie Montario Hardesty give the Browns plenty of backs to carry the ball.
Tight ends Ben Watson and Evan Moore will give Delhomme a pair of sure handed targets.
A young group of receivers that have potential but lack experience. A veteran quarterback like Delhomme could help their development.
Delhomme, who is coming off a dismal season, is the wild card. An average season by Delhomme’s standards, would be a vast improvement over what the Browns’ got last year from their QBs.
Defensively, the Browns finished last season playing good football.
Since then they’ve added two linebackers in Fujita and Chris Gocong. Both players will probably start along with Matt Roth. The fourth starter will come from either D’Qwell Jackson, David Bowens or Marcus Benard.
Cornerback Sheldon Brown was added to bolster the secondary joining last year’s starters Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald. Cleveland spent their first two draft picks on corner Joe Haden and safety T.J.Ward. Safety Larry Asante was also selected in the fifth round.
Defensive lineman Shaun Rogers will return along with young and improving nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin.
So, do the Cleveland Browns have enough talent to reach the playoffs in 2010?
A lot will depend on injuries and the development of the receivers and secondary. The potential is there, at least on paper.
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