COMMENTARY | Cleveland Browns fans should be excited heading into November 17.
The Browns are right in the heart of the playoff race with over halfway of the 2013 campaign behind them. Cleveland trails the Cincinnati Bengals by just two in the win column, and the Browns will be rested as they continue to prepare for a showdown with Cincy this coming weekend. Somewhat lost in the shuffle is that the Browns are also just a single game back in the Wild Card race.
This past week was, in theory, the perfect time for Cleveland to be on a Bye. Quarterback Jason Campbell and wide receiver Greg Little, among others, were banged up and needed the break. The thought of Brandon Weeden not only having to take the field but do so without a full assortment of weapons is not one I nor any Cleveland football fans would relish.
As is proven every NFL season, though, Bye weeks often interrupt and even eliminate the momentum a team holds at that given moment. Granted, the Browns have only won once since beating the Buffalo Bills on October 3, but the team's offense had clicked in the past two games with Campbell running the show. There was even an argument to be made that Cleveland was playing better than was any other team in the AFC North.
Yesterday offered multiple reminders of how a Bye week can go wrong for a team. The New York Giants, winners of two straight at the start of their off week, stumbled out of the gate against the Oakland Raiders when Jerrel Jernigan fumbled away the opening kickoff. The G-Men did, for Cleveland fans looking for a positive spin, rally to win. The Denver Broncos beat the San Diego Chargers after an off week, but Campbell, as well as he as played, is no Peyton Manning.
It wasn't all good news for teams who had an extra week to prepare for opponents. The San Francisco 49ers seemed ready to face off against Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, but the Niners appeared to be caught off-guard by what is an outstanding Carolina defense. San Fran lost 10-9, the second time this season that the 49ers have been downed by a contender at home.
The Miami Dolphins. The Washington Redskins. The Baltimore Ravens. The San Diego Chargers. All of these teams were defeated after having had an extra week of rest and prep time. The Indianapolis Colts were well on their way to losing to the lowly Houston Texans after a Bye when Gary Kubiak suffered a mini-stroke, an event that changed the outcome of that contest.
So how can the Browns avoid tripping up over the next seven days? Jumping right back into the standard Monday routine, which the Cleveland squad has already done, is the beginning. It's then on coaches and veteran players to get everybody's mind off of the golf course, beach or other vacation spot and back on the task at hand. The Browns have to be treating the match-up with Cincy as a playoff game.
That's exactly what it is for a franchise that hasn't enjoyed a meaningful January game in over a decade.
For more: Browns have good and bad Bye week
Zac has been following Cleveland sports since a little before his birth, and thus his heart breaks a little more with every year. He has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL for Yahoo Sports since 2010
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