Was the Raiders Game Fixed? The NCP Answer Your Browns Questions.

The North Coast Posse is a top five Browns twitter follow. @northcoastposse

The season is one quarter of the way in and the Browns sit at 1-2-1. Can this be considered a success?

Punter Supreme: Improvement: yes.  Success: No. Viewing a losing record as success just speaks to how bad the Browns have been.  More than anything, there is hope now. Not just blind faith as in recent seasons. We can see real improvement on both sides of the ball and it is creating some real excitement.  If the Browns win this week against the hated Ravens, I will boof an entire 40 oz. of Bud Light. Dilly Dilly to the B.

Big $: In professional sports, moral victories carry very little weight. Success is measured in wins and losses and the Browns record still reflects a losing culture. True success will come when they can truly start finishing games.

Which loss has been most painful?

Punter Supreme: So far, last week’s Oakland game was hard to swallow.  All the losses hurt, but taking an L after having a very rare two-score lead was difficult to watch.  

Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward are shaping up to be the best first round picks the Browns have had in a long time. How excited should Browns fans be about the future?

Big $: Having the Baker Buzz killed hurt more than the Tyrod losses. However, it may be the dose of common sense us Browns fans needed moving forward.

People drool all over the defense but they don't exactly close games out. How good are they? 

Punter Supreme: The jury is still out on this one.  Only 7 teams give up more yards per game, and only 3 give up more time of possession.  But they are a top-10 defense in terms of 3rd-down conversions allowed, and they average more than 3 takeaways per game.  The defense needs more consistency, but I think that will come as the younger players continue to develop. Even though they gave up 45 points to the lowly Raiders, they get a bit of a pass, because the offense had a few turnovers inside the Browns own 20 yard line that gave the Raiders a short field.

The Browns lost starting CB Terrance Mitchell to a broken his wrist last week, but the team has so much more depth in the secondary this season compared to years past that the unit should be able to fill the void he left.  

Was the Raiders game fixed?

Big $: Do you mean, “Was the game the Browns just played against the franchise that is currently en route to the gambling capital of the universe” fixed? NFL wagering is a billion dollar business and 3 points is thin enough that a call here and there can swing the tide completely. I think it would be naive to think that officials aren’t cognizant of how their actions could move stacks of cash. So in a nutshell, yes I do think there is a reason to believe foul play made an appearance in Oakland.

Looking ahead, what games do the Browns need to win for Hugh to keep his job? 

Punter Supreme: Hue has to win games in the division.  If he goes 0-fer in the AFC North, he is out for sure. If he losses games against other teams at the bottom of their divisions, like Houston and Atlanta, his seat will get hotter.  

Big $. I stated before the season that 2-5 would get Hue fired, and I stand by it, regardless of games won/loss.

What is Ohio State Walking into Saturday Night? Baver Answers Colin's Questions

Colin: Some potent Ohio State offenses have struggled in the hostile Happy Valley environment. You have been there before and are headed there again this weekend. What makes it such a tough place to score points?

Baver:The noise level is insane….parts of the stadium will vibrate at times when the Nits have it goin’. It’s been complete mayhem for the three games I’ve attended there, 2005, 2014 and 2016 - all white-outs. Their fans can be taken out of the game, as any crowd can if their team is getting hammered. But if they are in the game, the PSU fans sustain their loudness for long periods of time. It’s just so hard to stay in rhythm on offense in that environment. I know Ohio St wasn’t prepared for it in ’05, scoring only 10 pts when they had a high-powered offense.

Colin: On Saturday, If Haskins Jr plays as well against Penn State as JT Barrett did last year, will he become the Heisman front runner? 

Baver: Tua’s got a big lead right now and is going to be tough to pass unless Bama gets upset, and that may not even matter. I see he’s favored against the field right now by some sportsbooks, but Dwayne has the 2nd best odds. Haskins has by far the best skillset I have seen in terms of a passer that has played here. But we’ve seen so many good QBs fade here (Schlichter after his sophomore year, Troy’s infamous last game against Florida, & JT’s passing in late ’16 and ’17), so I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself with Dwayne.

Colin: Can Penn State hope to hold the Buckeyes to under the 39 points they scored last year in Columbus? 

Baver: 39 sounds about right to me for an over/under on Ohio St’s pts scored. But I worry that OSU might not be able to spell Dobbins. I know Urban said Weber will play, but I’m not so sure. With the pace this Buckeye offense is running at, they need both Weber and Dobbins Saturday night in Beaver Stadium. Still, Ohio State has a lot of weapons, and a gunslinger at QB. And I would argue that TCU has a better defense than Penn State’s.

Colin: Conversely, can this Bosa-less defense hold the Lions to under the 38 they scored against the Bucks in 2017?  

Baver: Do you know how many tackles the three starting Buckeye LBs had against Tulane? Zero. Unreal. I have no confidence in this LB crew, so the OSU D-line and DBs have to get it done. Chase Young needs to come up big. And the so-called 50/50 balls that McSorley throws up? Those passes are completed every time I’m watching…which is why anyone calling them 50/50 balls is selling McSorely and his WRs short. 38 pts by the Nits Saturday? That’s another number that again sounds about right to me. 

Colin: Nationally, where do you think the OSU v PSU game fits among much watch college rivalries? 

Baver: It’s not there yet, but as long as Urban and James Franklin hang around, this game is going to huge, and the rivalry is going grow big time.

Colin: Final thoughts and prediction? 

Baver: I’ll give the slightest advantage to Ohio State here, as they have fewer personnel questions and better depth. But many of OSU advantages are somewhat offset by the edge Penn State gains in playing Ohio State at night in Beaver Stadium in a white-out. Dwayne hasn’t showed any signs of getting in a funk on the big stage, but this will be unlike anything he has played in. I tend to think he will again hold up well as long as the pass protection is at least adequate. I do worry about Miles Sanders and KJ Hamler possibly both coming up big Saturday night for the Penn State offense (and Hamler as on returns). Hamler is 170 pounds soaking wet, but the kid is electric.

The last two gms have decided by a total of 4 pts and the ’14 gm there went double-OT. I tend to think it will be another one of those games. 

Prediction: Ohio State 42 Penn State 40.

Colin: Know you are traveling but any other games you will be checking in on this weekend? 

Baver: The spread is higher than I thought it would be with Notre Dame currently a 5½ pt favorite over Stanford. But the timing of this game really gives the Irish a big advantage. I think Notre Dame has been waiting on Stanford, while the Cardinal had that emotional comeback win in Eugene last Saturday night. I don’t think they will have much left in the tank, and really like Notre Dame at home in this spot. And I really like the move to Ian Book at QB.

I’ll leave it at that, other than picking OSU to win, but not covering in a very tight game. And we’re going to see a lot of fireworks Saturday night. Can’t wait.


I'm Begging MLB to Start Postseason Games Earlier - by Colin Gawel

Ok baseball, let’s try a new approach. Every year I complain that my son and myself cannot stay up and watch the end of the MLB playoffs. And every year you complain “Why are TV ratings down again and why are we losing kids to other sports?”

So instead of writing yet another article after the fact ( MLB Playoffs, Set DVR for Midnight! - I Can Save the World Series) I’m going to drop all that logical Freakonomics thinking and just beg you to give it a shot this year. Just do it for us. We are loyal fans who plan our summer vacations around seeing baseball parks. My son is now 15 years old and he has seen the end of exactly one World Series game. It won’t be long until he moves out of the house and I’d really like a chance to enjoy some Father/Son time watching our favorite sport play some meaningful games. In case you are wondering, we have watched the end of EVERY Super Bowl together and that is our 5th favorite sport. ( MLB, NBA, College Football, NCAA Basketball). How can this be?

Ok, I lied, maybe a little bit of logical thinking.

The Super Bowl kicks off at 6:30 pm.

Last year the World Series started games at 8:20 (except game one and two at 8:09)

The Games finished at these times:

Game One 10:39pm

Game Two 12:28 am

Game Three 12:06 am

Game Four 11:26 pm

Game Five 1:37 am (!!)

Game Six 11:44 pm

Game Seven 11:57 pm

I encourage you to look at those ending times again. That is insane.

The AVERAGE length of an MLB Postseason game is 3.5 hours. (click here for the study)

Oh, and those exciting 2017 one game wildcard games finished at 11:51 pm and 12:02 am. Both on week nights too. (editor’s note: the 2018 NL Wildcard game on Tuesday Oct 2 finished at 1:10 am)

“But why aren’t more kids watching baseball??”

Look MLB, there are lots of reasons the sport is losing ground (and many involve Fortnite) but having the most exciting moments of a mostly non-exciting sport play out while most every kid is asleep doesn’t seem to be working. Maybe it’s time for a fresh approach? If the Rays can go 20 games over .500 getting rid of using a starting pitcher for half the season, you can expand your thinking too.

You haven’t announced the post season TV schedule yet. There is still time to do me and my son this solid. My proposal is this: All playoff games East of the Mississippi start at 7:09 EST. And if I were commish, I would have all World Series games start the same time as the Super Bowl kicks off: 6:30 Every Single Game.

Colin Gawel founded Pencilstorm and banged out this rant while serving customers at Colin’s Coffee. He also wrote a nifty baseball song called Dad Can’t Help You Now.

Do the Browns Finally Win? Big $ Not Putting his Money Down

The North Coast Posse are a top Browns follow on Twitter. @northcoastposse

I don’t think the Browns are going to win. There are red flags, and then there are RED flags.

I'm on a bit of a heater as it relates to making sports picks (for entertainment purposes only). The person who takes said sports picks (once again, for entertainment purposes ) made a call to me (slightly unorthodox) after I nailed the under this past Monday night. The reason for the call was to see if I had any interest in rolling over my winnings (entertainment) onto the Browns on Thursday. Sadly, as a (slightly buzzed) Browns fan, I considered his offer for a few seconds, before I realized people in his position don't usually make calls to inspire decisions that are not firmly headed in their favor. The rush of reality prompted me to decline the offer. This guy (or girl, no names please) who has a stake in game outcomes is literally trying to get people to bet the Browns. No Thanks.

This is the trap game of trap games for player, coaches and fans alike. Everyone clutching their "WE WERE SO CLOSE' silver linings so tight that they miss just how dysfunctional this team is right now. The OC hates the HC, the special teams are trash, and penalties and mental miscues are adding up by the dozen. Folks, that ball Tyrod threw was well on its way to Houston, The Browns were lucky to be close to enough to feel heart ache.The greenish stench of 1-32-1 is rising and thickening and may reach critical mass on Thursday night.

With that said, I aint betting the Jets either. Go Browns.

Can Gary Patterson and TCU's defense slow down Ohio State's offense? - Baver answers Colin's questions

You can hear Baver every Friday at 7:40 am on CD1025 with Brian Phillips. Follow @baverbuckeyebag

Colin: Ok, everyone is losing their minds over this Buckeye offense but I suppose it’s worth noting that OSU beat Rutgers 58-0 and 56-0 the past two years with JT Barrett putting up huge passing numbers as well. So technically 2018 is a step backwards. Are we getting ahead of ourselves or is this offense destined for greatness? 

Baver: The upside of this Buckeye offense is the highest it’s been since Urban’s arrival.  But yeah, Rutgers is not good, and Oregon St’s defense is as bad as it gets. We will know a lot more around 11:30 pm Saturday night. 

Colin: Could we lose Haskins to the NFL after one season? 

Baver: Yes…and Haskins is currently running either 3rdor 4thin the Heisman odds, depending on the sportsbook. I see Todd McShay is already talking about Haskins NFL upside. And if Dwayne has a big game Saturday night, then you will hear a lot more talk about Haskins bolting after this season. Still, there isn’t much of a sample size right now in terms of Haskins’ performances against good competition. He played less than a half against Michigan last year - that’s it. Again, we will know more after Saturday.

Colin: What does TCU have to do to slow down the Buckeye attack and are they capable of doing it? 

Baver: Phil Steele has each of TCU’s three units on defense (DL, LBs & DBs) as the top units in the B12. Now, the B12 isn’t known for playing much D, so let’s not mistake this for Alabama’s defense. But if there is one coach that is capable of getting a high-powered tempo offense in a funk, it’s Gary Patterson. TCU’s 4-2-5 defense doesn’t have to substitute much to match up with the personnel on opposing offenses. And tempo offenses often feel a need to slow down to study the Horn Frogs’ alignment. But TCU is going to have to apply consistent pressure on Haskins and force some critical mistakes, otherwise I can’t see them winning this game.  

Colin: The defense faces its first test this weekend against TCU. Are they prepared to stop a top flight mobile QB in Shawn Robinson? 

Baver: I re-watched the Rutgers game focusing on the linebackers, and although the defense played much better than they did a week prior, the LB play is just plain bad in terms of what we are used to seeing in Columbus. Like Oklahoma and Iowa last year, I think TCU will try to expose the Buckeye LBs with the short passing game. Luckily, TCU doesn’t throw to the TE much, so that part of the nightmare from last year’s Iowa game shouldn’t reoccur. I think Robinson will make some plays with his legs, and the WR combo of Kavontae Turpin & Jalen Reagor (4.32 speed) will hit a few big plays. But the OSU D-line will force Robinson into making some key mistakes. Nick Bosa is possessed right now, and it’s like nothing I have seen before out of an OSU DE, and we’ve had some good ones. 

Colin: Forgot a Ted Ginn style punt return, can we just fair catch the ball without it hitting the turf? What gives? 

Baver: After McCall misplayed the first one, you’d have thought that he would have made damn sure he caught the 2nd one cleanly. Nope. Ohio State has too much talent on this team to give McCall many more shots. Yeah, I am too the point where I just want the punt fielded cleanly and let the offense put the ball in the end zone. 

Colin: Final thoughts and prediction? 

Baver: I am going to guess Urban Meyer has spent the better part of the last three weeks scouting TCU’s defense. I think even with a first-year starter at QB, Meyer and Ryan Day will have this offense well prepared for the TCU defense. I do worry you will see some chinks in the armor with the OSU O-line, but Haskins, the tailbacks, and the WRs should be too much for the TCU D. On the other side of the ball, as mentioned, the Bucks will surrender some big plays and some points, but the Buckeye D-line will cause too many problems for TCU and Shawn Robinson. Prediction: Ohio State 42 TCU 24, and I’d feel comfortable laying the 13 pts here.

Colin: What other games and lines will you be keeping an eye on this weekend? 

Baver: I think Joe Burrow is now settling in and I see LSU hanging tough with Auburn. So getting 10 pts looks like a solid play to me. Of course, LSU is coached by Ed Orgeron, so I make look foolish here. I tend to think Boise St gets it done at Ok State, so I like the Smurfs catching 2 pts there. Best Boise team in a while. And I think the Bama train keeps rolling and covers the 21½ at Ole Miss. Bama usually wins Nat’l Titles with an average QB, and Tua is far better than average.