Starting with tonight's Thursday Night Football matchup, the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers play each other twice in the next three weeks. While the Steelers are 5-4 and in the middle of the Wild Card hunt, the Browns are on the outside looking in. Holding the fourth-worst record in the AFC and coming off their first win in a month, tonight's game could decide the future of the franchise.
First, we have Freddie Kitchens. He may have saved his job with a 19-16 win over the Bills just a few days ago, but will he survive the next month? Here's one of the more interesting stats / tidbits / trivia nuggets you'll see today. According to Trey WIngo, the last six head coaches of the Cleveland Browns have all been fired after a Steelers game (not counting interim coach Gregg Williams last year).
Mathematically, the actual odds of that happening are 0.00000381469%, but that doesn't take into account the human element. Losing to the Steelers, who the Browns fancy as a rival, hurts more than any other loss. So most of Hugh Jackson's 36 losses as coach of the Brown can be forgiven, but he just couldn't survive going 0-5-1 against Pittsburgh.
So if the Browns lose tonight and / or in Week 13, Freddie Kitchens could become the 7th consecutive Browns coach fired after a loss to Pittsburgh. According to Nick Wright, that's just what the team needs.
While I agree that the current versions of Kitchens and Baker Mayfield aren't ideal for the longterm success of Cleveland, if they start winning tonight and end up with a better record that they did last year, how is that a bad thing? Cleveland had unreasonable expectations coming into this season, but a .500 record or somehow making the playoffs would actually be good considering where they started. Right? Isn't that the goal? Tanking is bad and losing is bad, so actually trying and winning should be considered good. I know it seems counterintuitive, but I think Lil' Wayne agrees.