The Cleveland Browns host the Denver Broncos tonight, two teams looking to end losing streaks. Cleveland has dropped its last two games to fall to 3-3 on the season, while the Broncos have lost three in a row after winning their first three games.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will be watching closely, because the Browns are their next opponent, aside from the fact that they are divisional rivals. While Pittsburgh beat the snot out of them in their first matchup last year, the Browns won the second game of the regular season, and then dominated them in the Wild Card round. Needless to say, this team wants to wipe that taste out of their mouths.
“Nobody likes to lose to Cleveland around here”, defensive coordinator Keith Butler said on Tuesday, via transcript. “I know that because I used to be at Cleveland a while back. Yeah, we’re trying to get ready for them”.
The problem is, it’s hard to say how much they can tell from scouting this game. The Browns won’t have quarterback Baker Mayfield, nor running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The latter is on the Reserve/Injured List, so won’t be available the following week, either, but the other two have a good change of being back for the game against Pittsburgh.
Right now, both teams are 3-3 and tied for third place, also currently last place, in the AFC North. The Baltimore Ravens have the best record in the conference at 5-1, while the Cincinnati Bengals are a surprising 4-2, which includes a win over the Steelers.
“It’s gonna be a challenge for us, especially to try and get ahead in the division”, Butler said of the importance of next week’s game. “Our division is not a bunch of chumps. It’s a pretty good division. And whoever goes to the playoffs out of the division is gonna be pretty good”.
On the subject of chumps, the AFC North is one of only two divisions in which no team currently has a losing record, the other being the AFC West, and collectively, the North has a slightly better record overall by one game, 15-9 to 14-10. They are one of three divisions in which at least two teams have winning records.
The winner of tonight’s game will determine which division—the AFC North or the AFC West—has three teams with a winning record, since the Broncos, at .500, are in the West. Here’s to hoping for a Broncos victory.