Billy Cundiff kicked the football out of bounds.
The only horrible play available to him. Thus putting a cap on the most miserable football game the Lead Man has ever seen. And he's seen many a football game. "But Lead Man, don't you remember those Browns classics when Doug Pederson and Spergeon Wynn were flingin' it?" Those were worse, weren't they? Yeah, Lead does remember those, as well as games in which Browns offenses were commandeered by the likes of Luke McCown and Kevin Johnson. He remembers just last season, how depressing it was to watch Ken Dorsey rear back and give it all he's got...to complete a seven yard out. Suffice it to say Lead and many Browns fans have been subjected to some horrible football games.
But last Sunday was worse than all of them, for this wasn't two teams with key players injured, running out the string in the final weeks of a season. These were two teams, in week number five, healthy, and presumably with all systems go.
When Lead Man sits down to watch a game in week 5, he's got a few expectations. By this time teams have shaken off the early season rust, ironed out some kinks and have fine tuned their game plans. Not to mention their personnel is relatively healthy and their roles defined. That's not what LP received Sunday.
Dick Jauron's troops were clearly rattled by the crowd noise at Cleveland Browns Stadium. What? They committed 45 illegal motion penalties at home? Well, that explains why the crowd was booing each time out called in the second half, they just assumed another false start. The fans themselves would have been wise to make a very real start - toward the exit.
Lead Man was also forced to make a somewhat embarrassing jump for the DVD remote, for fear he may have left a XXX rated movie in the chamber. Where else are you going to see so many balls off the face? Receivers, tight ends, hell, even human glue-stick Hank Poteat grilled one toward the Rich Stadium mezzanine. And believe Lead, it's painful enough to watch Derek Anderson cut his specialty, the 120 mph swing pass, thru the breeze, but when guys drop 5 or 6 catchable balls on top of it, it becomes almost unbearable. Speaking of DA, Jameil Holloway and Turner Gill phoned the Leadquarters this week, reiterating just how pathetic completing one pass a half is.
One pass completion each half. In an NFL football game.
Here's the moral of the story for you players out there. Be careful of getting down on Browns tilts - because you might just have to watch them. And if you put any value on your time, it's a vig that you won't be able to beat. A bigger negative expectation bet the Lead Man has never seen. To the picks:
The Red Raiders of Texas Tech travel to Lincoln as a dog this Saturday. And while Bo Pelini is doing his best to revitalize the Nebraska black shirt defense, Texas Tech will have a bit too much for him to handle this weekend. Nebraska, who is establishing the run this year to take pressure off QB Zac Lee, has had a hard time running it against Tech the last few years. This, combined with Lee's struggles against step-up competition has the Leadquarters feeling that Tech will stay inside the number. And fear not if starting QB Taylor Potts is back or not, because fellow junior Steven Sheffield hung half a thousand yards on Kansas State last week. Rest assured Crazy Mike Leach's squad will move the ball. Log yourself a win in Lincoln Saturday.
Texas Tech +11
Typically after a flood in New Orleans, Louisiana sends residents to Houston. This week the tables are reversed as The Houston Cougars travel to New Orleans braving the flood elicited by the Green Wave of Tulane. Fortunately for Houston the wave manufactured by Tulane is usually more like a ripple. Allow the Lead Man to just tell it to you straight; Tulane is a really bad team, worse against the spread, and they are not getting enough points from high scoring Houston. Tulane has some people banged up on D, and they struggle against the pass when healthy. Look for Case Keenum to have an easy time of it, as his receivers will be so open it'll be like throwin' a football into the Bayou. Look for Houston to take Tulane to the mat.
Washington travels to Sun Devil Stadium to take on Arizona State Saturday night. Washington, fresh off a miracle win against Arizona last week, comes in a tad overrated in this tilt. Arizona State plays well at home and Washington rarely covers the number on the road. And while the Huskies are making great strides toward respectability this season, they still lack talent on the defensive side of the ball, and outside of QB Jake Locker, they can't run it. The Sun Devils have hung big numbers on the Husky D the last two years and you can look for them to do the same this year as well. Washington sure could cross a river, but the desert is a whole different story. This game has great value under a touchdown.
The Jacksonville Jaguars invite the St. Louis Rams to Florida to play in front of their wives and immediate families. Coming off a horrid loss to Seattle, the doctor has ordered up about the sorriest team you ever could find for Jack Del Rio's reeling troops. Well, sorriest if you eliminate the Browns. In any event, while J'ville has been crushed by solid opponents, they have crushed the hapless teams on their schedule. This week should be much of the same. One thing Jacksonville has done, despite all their struggles, is stop the run. If the Jags stop Steven Jackson, how the hell are the Rams going to score? They have 34 points all year. Thirty. Four. Look for the Jags to contain Jackson, grab a few turnovers, and win going away.
Lastly, if you wish to ignore all LP's advice in the body of this column, and you feel your stomach is strong enough, take the Steelers Sunday. Yeah, I know 14 seems to be a bit much with the Browns defense playing better the last couple weeks, but much like with the Rams LP asks, how the hell are the Browns going to score? Troy Polamalu is back for Pittsburgh, with no real assignment other than to catch the carom off Robert Royal's face mask. This will be a confidence builder for the struggling Pittsburgh D, and another ugly game for fans of NFL football to be subjected to.
Good luck players!