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WEEK 10 CRYSTAL BALL - WEEKEND: Browns, Ravens Renew Bitterest of Rivalries
My friends, there are many great rivalries in the NFL. Eagles-Giants, Cowboys-Commies, Bears-Packers, Chiefs-Raiders and so many more. But the most bitter series of them all just might feature the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.
Unless you’re a babe in the football woods, you know the story here: the Ravens were once based in Cleveland and known as the Browns. But the franchise was moved to Charm City for the 1996 season after Browns owner Art Modell struck a deal with Maryland Governor Parris Glendening.
It was a painful episode that still wounds football fans in northeast Ohio, even though the NFL awarded an expansion Cleveland Browns franchise to the city in 1999. And I can’t blame them.
Heck, I get upset when THE TRE MAN swipes a bite of bacon from my plate. My blood boils when a store clerk shorts me a penny. I flip out when one of THE FAIR CLAUDINE’s pugs takes some of my blanket in the middle of the night. So, I can’t imagine the rage I would feel if another city were to abscond with my football team.
Making matters worse for Cleveland, they didn’t just lose their franchise - and head coach Bill Belichick - after the 1995 season. They’ve also had to witness the Ravens win two Super Bowls and a total of 16 postseason games over the past two decades. On the flip side, the Browns have played just three postseason games since returning in 1999 with a lone victory in 2020. Putting the cherry on top, Baltimore has vanquished Cleveland in 36 of 49 meetings (74%) since the Browns re-entered the NFL, including a 28-3 beatdown in Ohio exactly six weeks ago.
Folks, that’s as lopsided as the wings and salad platter I’ll be having for lunch today. And if you can locate the greens, your eyesight is fantastic.
This week’s game should be a good one with the host Ravens (7-2) holding a one-game lead over Cleveland (5-3) in the loss column and the AFC North looking like the best division in football. Still, there are questions that must be answered before kickoff at 1 pm ET on Fox.
Can Lamar Jackson and the offense handle Myles Garrett? Will Cleveland move the ball against the vaunted Ravens defense? What’s better: Baltimore’s crabs or the city’s legendary pit beef?
Let’s call it 23-16, Ravens.
After Thursday’s Bears win against Carolina, the season record sits at 89-49 (.645). Let’s check out the rest of the slate with the Chiefs (7-2), Dolphins (6-3), Eagles (8-1) and Rams (3-6) enjoying their bye week.
SUNDAY, 9:30 AM ET - NFL NETWORK
Colts (4-5) vs. Patriots (2-7) in Frankfurt. It’s hard to pick New England in any setting right now but I’m going to roll the dice and go with Bill Belichick’s ability to adapt. Pats by a deuce.
1 PM - FOX
The visiting Saints (5-4) fall to Minnesota (5-4) and Josh Dobbs while San Fran (5-3) goes down in Jacksonville (6-2). After the rough past few weeks, it’ll be interesting to see how the Niners respond on the road.
1 PM - CBS
Host Cincinnati (5-3) takes down Houston (4-4). These two cities are connected by one man: the legendary SIR STRIPES, whose eclectic mix of favorite teams include the Bengals and Astros. You’ve likely seen him wandering around Times Square in an “Altuve was framed” t-shirt, usually waving a half-eaten potato knish…
…Take the Steelers (5-3) against the Packers (3-5) and the Bucs vs. the Titans in a matchup of 3-5 teams. Pittsburgh and Tampa are at home.
4:05 PM - CBS
Fresh off a bye, the Lions (6-2) get a road win against the Chargers (4-4) and, in the desert, Taylor Heinicke and the Falcons (4-5) take down the Cardinals (1-8).
4:25 PM - FOX
I like Slingin’ Sammy Howell and the Commies (4-5) to put up a good fight at the Seahawks (5-3) but, in the end, I think Seattle will prove too much for DC. My boys lose by less than a touchdown…
…the Giants (2-7) get crushed at the Cowboys (5-3) in a bloodbath to make Martin Scorcese proud.
8:20 PM - NBC
Take the Jets (4-4) at the Raiders (4-5) in a contest that will be fun to watch because both teams have such small margins for error offensively. Just make sure that “Heidi” isn’t showing up in your local late-night listings. Yes, a cute kid but she ruined a lot of football lives.
Of course, as my old pal and mentor UNCLE PAULIE says, “If ever NBC was going to re-enact the Heidi Bowl, tonight’s game might be the time. Better to watch a Swiss orphan than Zack taking a late sack that puts the Jets out of field goal range down 3-0 with a minute left.”
MONDAY, 8:15 PM - ABC
The Broncos (3-5) fall to the Bills (5-4) in upstate New York though, judging by the past few weeks, it’ll be a struggle for the hosts. Sean McDermott needs a victory with the Eagles (Week 12), Chiefs (Week 14), Cowboys (Week 15) and Dolphins (Week 18) remaining on Buffalo’s schedule.
That’s it for this week, folks! Enjoy the games and God bless!