We might be a little behind since this was posted Monday on si.com, but the head football honcho at Sports Illustrated, Peter King, has the Browns 9th on his first power rankings of the year:
This team has five prime-time games for the first time since Paul Brown prowled the sidelines and Jim Brown was a runner, not a protester. “I think our guys will like it,” said GM Phil Savage. “I think they’ll take to the challenge.”
Nice words and maybe even true ones. But Cleveland’s opponents — like Dallas on opening day — will think they’re going to have to play really well to beat the Browns. In other words, Cleveland’s not going to catch anyone by surprise. The pressure’s on.
Pressure? Do you know how long Browns fans have waited to hear that there are expectations and pressure on their beloved team? Every day I seem to find another reason to wait patiently for the 2008 NFL season, because I think I could live forever with the Browns getting all of this praise. King later remarks that players like Willie McGinest and Jamal Lewis should help keep the younger Browns head’s on straight as they make a drive for the playoffs. I couldn’t agree more. Even though I have devoted other posts to the notion that the loss of McGinest shouldn’t make a big dent in the on-field play of the Browns in 2009, Cleveland will certainly miss the leadership that he brings to the locker room. Lewis is a bit of a stretch, but McGinest will be there to remind the Browns that they have yet to accomplish anything if their heads should get too big.
King also has the Browns lumped in the “Now It Gets a Little Interesting (teams 3-10)” heading with (in order) Jacksonville, Dallas, San Diego, New York Giants, Minnesota, Green Bay, and Carolina. First of all, Minnesota as the seventh best team in the NFL? Thats a stretch. The Brownies will have the privilege of playing three of those teams listed, which just comes with the territory.
How much does this preseason ranking mean to the Browns organization? Nothing. How much does it mean to Browns fans? Just about everything. The idea that experts think that we are in the top third of teams in the NFL makes fans like us here at the Sons of Nev ecstatic.
Oh, by the way? Steelers ranked 12th. What a shame.