Crystal Ball

WEEK FOURTEEN (WEEKEND) CRYSTAL BALL: GURU Praises (Gasp) the Browns

My friends, THE GURU is going to do something highly unusual: I’m going to compliment Cleveland’s football franchise. No, I’m not going to pat their fans on the back. I’ll continue to point out that guys like TIMMY THE BROWN smell like a wet KFC dumpster and take an hour and a half to watch “60 Minutes.”

This week, however, I am going to praise Browns ownership for three moves: firing in-over-his-head executive Sashi Brown, hiring the proven John Dorsey as general manager and announcing that coach Hue Jackson will return in 2018.

What these moves tell me: Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam clearly believe that the team’s biggest problem lies with player personnel i.e. the team isn’t picking the right type of guys that Jackson and his coaching staff can lead to success. The list of gaffes from Sashi & Co. is a long way and includes allowing a team leader like Alex Mack to walk with no compensation, botching a possible A.J. McCarron trade and, yes, deciding that Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson weren’t good enough to play for the Browns.

This week’s moves also say, in my long-distance opinion, that the Haslems aren’t unhappy with the way Jackson and his staff coach the team. This, in my view, is an important evolution for the owners, looking past the coach’s 1-27 record – Hue will get his career mark to .500 just as FATBACK HOBBS wins his first Emmy – and believing he is doing as well as he can with the cards he’s been dealt.

So, there you have it, Browns fans: you’ve made some progress this week. And, hey, here’s more good news: only about nine weeks until Indians pitchers and catchers report in Goodyear, Ariz.

After Thursday night’s loss, the record is 103-65 (.613). On to the games…

 

SUNDAY

1 PM, FOX

Chicago (3-9) at Cincinnati (5-7). The Bears are who their fans thought they were and Cincy is starting to play some good ball. BENGALS, 30-17

…Green Bay (6-6) at Cleveland (0-12). Aaron Rodgers is close to returning but beware Packers fans: you could lose this game if your team isn’t careful. Fortunately, the Browns starting lineup includes three kids cut from their community college team and two offensive linemen who moonlight at Barnes & Noble. PACKERS, 8-6…

…San Fran (2-10) wins at Houston (4-8). The Texans are a rudderless ship without Watt and Watson…

…Dee-troit (6-6) at Tampa Bay (4-8).Remember when these two pugs faced off twice annually as NFC Central rivals? Of course, you don’t: the QB battles between Dee-troit’s Eric Hipple and Jack Thompson aka “The Throwin’ Samoan” were absolutely unsightly. LIONS, 15-14

Dallas (6-6) at New York Giants (2-10). One of the two times per annum I root for the Jints and, hey, they’ve got a new kid starting at QB: Eli something or other. GIANTS, 20-17.

1 PM, CBS

Indianapolis (3-9) at Buffalo (6-6). With Tyrod injured, Nathan Peterman is likely to start today for the Bills at QB and Buffalo would be wise to pass as often as the Army-Navy folks do. BILLS, 23-20

…Minnesota (10-2) wins at Carolina (8-4).Case Keenum may be in burgundy and gold next season…

…Oakland (6-6) loses at Kansas City (6-6).That Raiders defense is the football equivalent of a good juice cleanse…

4:05 PM, CBS

Tennessee (8-4) wins at Arizona (5-7). You’re likely looking at the final four weeks of Bruce Arians as a head coach…

the New York Jets (5-7) win at Denver (3-9)…

Washington (5-7) at Los Angeles Chargers (6-6). This is a tough spot for the badly wounded Skins offensive line, facing perhaps the league’s most ferocious pass rush. But the Chargers run defense isn’t great and I’ve got faith in my man Kirk Cousins to end his Skins’ tenure with four weeks as strong as the month-long full-court press I put on THE FAIR CLAUDINE to convince her that marrying me was easier than getting rid of me. SKINS, 32-29.

4:25 PM, FOX

Seattle (8-4) loses at Jacksonville (8-4). This one will be tighter than the corset BROTHER BLUENIK wore to last night’s Christmas party and every bit as humbling (for the Seahawks). JAGS, 21-19

…Philadelphia (10-2) at Los Angeles Rams (9-3). This is a huge test for a Birds’ team that laid an egg in Seattle and I don’t think they’ll get a passing grade. The Rams defense is too tough and, man, I love the way Sean McVay has that offense hummin’. RAMS, 30-20.

8:30 PM, NBC

Baltimore (7-5) at Pittsburgh (10-2).This is one of the league’s best rivalries, perfect for a late-season Sunday night tilt. I love the resiliency of the Ravens – it’s as impressive as PLODDING GEORGE STAHL coming back to run the ever-humbling 40-yard dash year after year – but they just don’t have enough juice to battle with the hosts. STEELERS, 27-19.

MONDAY

8:30 PM, ESPN

New England (10-2) at Miami (5-7).Fact: The Pats are 16-5 against the Dolphins since swiping Wes Welker from Miami in ’07. And Matt Moore has none of those five wins. NEW ENGLAND, 26-21.

 

That’s it for this week, folks. Enjoy the games, your family and God bless!

 

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