Could the Cleveland Browns Make Some Noise This Year After All?

Dominic ErricoCorrespondent INovember 8, 2010

CLEVELAND - NOVEMBER 07:  Running back Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns runs the ball against the New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 7, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

A few weeks ago I wrote an article calling out the Browns for not standing up for their teammates.  I used the word "pushovers."

However, since writing that article, something about the Browns has changed. 

Since their loss to the Steelers, the Browns have beaten the defending champion New Orleans Saints on the road and followed that up by beating the team with the best record in football, the New England Patriots.

So what has changed? 

With injuries to starting quarterback Jake Delhomme and his backup Seneca Wallace.  Third-round pick Colt McCoy has gotten his chance to show what he can do.  The team has seemed to rally around him and he’s now led them to back-to-back wins over two elite teams in the NFL.

Peyton Hillis is having a huge 2010 campaign.  Amazing how one-sided that trade has been for the Browns.  Has Brady Quinn even seen the field in Denver?  It’s about time the Browns got the right side of a trade.

They are now sitting at 3-5 on the season and perhaps at a first glance you would be inclined to say they aren’t a good football team.  I looked a little bit closer and must admit, this team has played some good football so far this year.

Let’s take a look at the schedule, which is one of the toughest in the NFL so far this season.  They have played exactly one team with a losing record in their first eight games.  Their opponents have a combined W-L record of 41-22. 

Going by the current Power Rankings, they’ve played five of the top ten teams in the NFL (first, second, third, sixth and 10th) as well as the 11th and 14th ranked teams.  Not to mention they’ve been competitive in these games. 

Now add in the fact they own two wins over those elite teams, and it’s not far-fetched to think this team might be able to battle down the stretch and make some noise in the playoff race after all.  I mean if you can beat the champs and the Patriots, why not anyone else?

The team is playing with a lot more confidence with Colt McCoy at the helm, and I'm not sure why Eric Mangini has been hesitant to name his as the full-time starter going forward.  It isn't like Delhomme or Wallace are elite quarterbacks at this point of their careers.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think the Browns are a year away from being serious playoff contenders, but the team is looking a lot better than what Cleveland fans have been accustomed to since the franchise returned to the NFL in 1999.  

Don’t underestimate the Browns because they’ll make you pay.