EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Cleveland Browns are virtually there, on the verge of ending almost twenty years price of frustration.
They’re closing in on their first playoff berth since 2002 — the NFL’s longest postseason drought — and it might occur Sunday with a win over the 1-13 New York Jets and a mixture of losses by others.
That has put a constructive nationwide highlight on Baker Mayfield and the Browns (10-4), lengthy one of many league’s most lambasted franchises. It is likely to be good to listen to — in the event that they have been listening to all of it. Having to protect in opposition to any of these exterior distractions isn’t within the recreation plan in the intervening time.
“I’d say sure, however this crew didn’t hearken to it when all people threw us within the trash,” Mayfield stated. “So, no.”
Right here’s what must occur for Cleveland to get within the playoffs: The Browns win for the second straight Sunday at MetLife Stadium after beating the Giants 20-6 final week, and a loss or tie by Baltimore or Miami, or a loss by Indianapolis. Cleveland additionally might clinch with a tie in opposition to the Jets and a loss by Baltimore or Miami.
A win by the Browns additionally might arrange one thing that appeared unlikely only a few weeks in the past: a Week 17 showdown at dwelling in opposition to Pittsburgh (11-3) for the AFC North title, if the Steelers lose to the visiting Colts (10-4) at the moment.
“If we deal with our enterprise – I do know I stated this weeks in the past – we can be the place we need to be,” stated Mayfield, who has 10 TD passes and only one interception in his final 4 video games.
And so they’re not overlooking the lowly Jets. Not after Adam Gase’s squad shocked the Rams 23-20 in Los Angeles final Sunday to finish a 13-game dropping streak and get rid of all of the chatter about New York becoming a member of the 2008 Detroit Lions and 2017 Browns because the NFL’s solely 0-16 squads.
“It was a very long time coming,” rookie left sort out Mekhi Becton stated. “I’ve been wanting that feeling for some time, so it felt actually nice.”
It left many Jets followers within the uncommon place of being offended at a victory as a result of it dropped their crew out of the No. 1 spot within the draft to No. 2 behind Jacksonville.
However now that the Jets acquired one win, the gamers are hungry for one more.
“The entire vibe was completely different, all people was completely satisfied,” Becton stated of this week’s practices. “We need to get that feeling once more.”
Sam Darnold faces an unsure future with the Jets, however is coming off his greatest efficiency of the season. He additionally offered a reminder why he was the No. Three total decide in 2018 — two spots after Mayfield was taken by the Browns.
Darnold was 22 of 31 for 207 yards and a season-best 71% completion proportion with a landing and no turnovers in opposition to the Rams. Darnold’s 99.eight quarterback score was additionally a excessive for this season.
“Simply hold enjoying video games like that,” Gase stated of what the QB must do shifting ahead. “I feel it’s actually nearly being constant week in and week out, simply attempting to do these little tiny issues that lots of people don’t discover that hold us on the sphere.”
T-D FOR TWO
The Browns sock a 1-2 backfield scoring punch like no different crew.
“It’s positively a two-headed monster,” Gase stated.
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt every have scored 10 touchdowns, making them the primary pair of Cleveland backs to try this since Leroy Hoard (11) and Kevin Mack (10) each reached double digits in 1991.
If Chubb or Hunt rating, it normally means the Browns win. They’re 10-1 when one in every of them will get in the long run zone.
With Cleveland leaning on its passing recreation currently, Chubb (931 yards) and Hunt (793) ought to have more energizing legs down the stretch.
“It’s a must to do a superb job of getting these guys on the bottom as a result of they do it higher than anyone within the league proper now so far as getting yards after contact and creating explosive performs,” Gase stated. “They assist make life simpler for everyone else.”
Becton has had a formidable rookie season, garnering the respect of opponents, media and followers for his highlight-reel pancake blocks and constantly stable play.
The No. 11 total decide in final April’s draft obtained essentially the most votes amongst followers for the Professional Bowl, however was not chosen for the NFL’s all-star recreation. The fan vote counts for 1/Three of the vote, with coaches and gamers making up the remaining.
“The solo accolades are going to come back after they come,” Becton stated. “Possibly I’ve acquired to do higher.”
When requested if he intends to see his title on the Professional Bowl roster over the following a number of years, Becton had a one-word response: “Positively.”
Cleveland’s sturdy offensive line is coping with some turbulence.
Proper guard Wyatt Teller is anticipated to overlook his second straight recreation with a sprained ankle. Rookie Nick Harris will make his first begin.
Harris got here in on Cleveland’s third play final week after Chris Hubbard, filling in for Harris, suffered a season-ending knee damage. It’s nothing new for the fifth-round decide from Washington. He started his faculty profession at heart, moved to protect after which went again to heart.
“It is rather like the circle of life,” Harris stated. “All the things simply repeats itself, I swear. I ended up enjoying sooner than I assumed I’d in faculty. Right here I’m, and I performed sooner than I assumed I’d in my NFL profession.”
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