Game prediction: Browns hot--or are they really?

Game prediction: Browns hot--or are they really?
December 14, 2012, 4:00 pm
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Shanahan not surprised by Cousins' late-game heroics

When the schedule came out last April, most who looked at this game had it marked down as a “W” for the Redskins. Nothing happened to change that perception from April through October. Even when the Redskins were struggling at 3-6 there was a feeling that Robert Griffin III would be able to find a way to lead them to a win over the Browns, who had lost their first five games and were 2-8 after 10 games.

But now things are a bit different. RG3 is questionable for the game with his sprained right knee. And the Browns have righted the ship with three straight wins.

It is reasonable to say, however, that the Browns have not faced the toughest competition during their three-game streak. Here are the three teams they have beaten in the past three weeks:

Steelers 7-6
@ Raiders 3-10
Chiefs 2-11

Combined record 12-27
Winning percentage .307

Let’s compare that to the last three teams the Redskins have beaten:

@ Cowboys 7-6
Giants 8-5
Ravens 9-4

Combine record 24-15
Winning percentage .615

Now, you can only beat the teams you play and winning three straight in the NFL against any caliber of competition is not an easy thing to do. Just ask the Redskins, who went from midseason in 2008 until their current streak without putting together a three-game winning streak. Despite the suspect nature of their schedule, the Browns showed something by pulling it together and winning three straight after their season was on the verge of total collapse.

The Redskins are playing for a playoff spot. Virtually everyone in the Browns organization is fighting for his job after the team was sold to Jimmy Haslam. Both are very powerful incentives.

Probably a good thing for Redskins that Browns won 3 straight. Not that a 7-6 team that has been pretty bad for a few years should look past any other team, but the fact that the Browns have been experiencing some success makes the job of Mike Shanahan much easier.

But nothing will be easy if Robert Griffin III can’t play. Kirk Cousins may well be capable but it was not chance that made Griffin the second pick in the draft and Cousins the 102nd. Griffin is better, much better. The Redskins would not be in the playoff hunt if Cousins had been their QB for 13 games.

They can, however, win a single game with Cousins if RG3 needs to take the day off. It will be a test in either case but they should be up for it.

Prediction is that RG3 plays and:

Redskins 28, Browns 20

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