Jamal Lewis helped Baltimore win a Super Bowl five years after the team left Cleveland. Seven years later, in his first year with the reincarnated Cleveland Browns, Lewis is still waiting to get back to the big game. Yet, with the Browns in decent shape at 4-3, Lewis can’t bring himself to talk playoffs.
Jamal Lewis helped Baltimore win a Super Bowl five years after the team left Cleveland.
Seven years later, in his first year with the reincarnated Cleveland Browns, Lewis is still waiting to get back to the big game.
Yet, with the Browns in decent shape at 4-3, Lewis can’t bring himself to talk playoffs.
“I can’t even say that word right now,” Lewis said. “I’m not even gonna speak on that.”
Lewis’ former head coach, Brian Billick, used to call it the “P” word, banning it from the locker room as a jinx.
Word games aside, playoff races are beginning to take shape, and the Browns are on the to-watch board.
“It was good to win on the road,” quarterback Derek Anderson said, “especially since we have a lot of road games down the stretch.”
As an NFL starter, Anderson is 3-1 in Cleveland, 1-4 on the road.
Five of the Browns eight games in the second half of the season will be away (Steelers, Ravens, Cardinals, Jets, Bengals). Four division champions and two wild-card teams will represent the AFC in the postseason.
Every contender’s dream is a first-round bye, earned by the two teams with the best records. Odds are, those two will be East leader New England (8-0) and South leader Indianapolis (7-0), who collide in the Colts’ dome Sunday.
Pittsburgh (5-2) has a one-game lead on the Browns and Ravens (both 4-3) in the North.
San Diego (4-3), Kansas City (4-3) and Denver (3-3 heading into Monday night’s game against Green Bay) are bunched up in the West.
Cleveland can elevate to a buzz team by winning at home against Seattle. That would give the Browns four wins in their last five games.
Eschewing the “P” word, Lewis expressed optimism via the “M” word, as in momentum.
“It looks like we’re coming together,” he said. “We haven’t played our best ball yet as a full team. That’s what is scary ... and good.”
There’s a decent chance the Browns, Steelers and Ravens will reach the midway point tied for the AFC North lead at 5-3. That happens if Cleveland beats Seattle and Baltimore wins at Pittsburgh Sunday.
If the Steelers beat the Ravens, the Browns still could gain a share of the division lead by beating Seattle and winning at Pittsburgh a week later.
A big if, no doubt. Pittsburgh ripped the Browns 34-7 in the season opener and hasn’t lost to them since 2003.
The Browns are 4-2 since then. Autumn came. Their world has changed.
-- The Repository