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Key Storylines for the Redskins Versus the Browns

Matt Sullivan

The Browns have become a punchline since their reemergence into the league in 1999. One lone playoff appearance from the Tim Couch era is all the Browns have to show for themselves. For year, as the Redskins drudged through mediocrity, Skins fans could say "at least we're not the Browns" or "at least we're not the Lions". It wasn't funny any more when the Redskins became the laughing stock of the league and the Lions surpassed us. So could Sunday's game be two teams meeting at the crossroads? Could a win here change the trajectory for both franchises?

We all know the Mike Holmgren connection to the Redskins and Robert Griffin III, but now Holmgren is gone and that storyline has seemed to pass. Especially with the possibility of Griffin being a no go on Sunday. It's crazy to think about, but the Browns could have their first non-losing season since 2007 if he they could finish 3-0. It's easy to make fun of Brandon Weeden's age or the general stench of the city that is Cleveland, but this isn't the terrible Browns squads of the past ten or so years.

Cleveland enters this game 5-8. They've lost four games this year by one score or less. They lost to the Eagles by 1 in Week 1 and lost to the Cowboys in overtime. Despite rumors of Nick Saban coming to town next year, this isn't a Browns team that is just going to rollover, die, and be content going 5-11. This is a young, talented team fighting for pride.

Cleveland has put together a team of tough-nosed, high character players beyond Weedon this year. Trent Richardson is the definition of this and defines the grit of what the people of the "Rust Belt" want. The former Alabama star has rushed for 869 yards this year and has 10 total touchdowns.

Remember the debate over RG3's former teammate Josh Gordon and the supplemental draft this past summer? Gordon has just gone for a cool 732 yards and 5 touchdowns this season. Cleveland has weapons and a solid line anchored by Joe Thomas that is going to be ready to play on Sunday.

There is also plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball that fits the mold of a tough AFC North defense. D'Qwell Jackson leads the way, but he has a slew of talented youngsters in Phil Taylor, Ahtbya Rubin, Jabaal Sheard, Billy Winn, Joe Haden and others who are ready to take the next step.

Sharp preparation without RG3 in the huddle this week may be just what the Redskins needed. When was the last time the Skins headed into a trap game, not as the hunted but the hunter? It's Week 5 of the playoffs for the Skins...the opponent the Cleveland Browns.