Brandon McDonaldPower Rankings and DA’s Future

Time to look around at the power rankings and Browns analysis for this week.

Coming off the big win over the Texans this week, optimism is still the key word. Regarding the Power Rankings, the Browns have basically hit that part of the rankings where even with big wins it’s tough to move up much because there are so few teams above them. Every week this season feels more and more remarkable. It’s hard to fathom how far this team has come since week 1. How was anyone to know following the blowout and fallout that followed that this team would be in this position. The Browns truly control their own playoff destiny at this point. Keep winning against teams with worse records, and the Browns are in. With 5 games left, even a 3-2 record in those games will very likely put this team in the playoffs. Optimism is the word.

As always, we start with the power rankings. And as always, we start with Matt Mosley’s Hashmarks power rankings. And as always, I will mention that the Browns started at #32 on his rankings because, well, I just enjoy thinking about that fact.  This week, Mosley has the Browns up one slot to number 7, just 1 back of the Steelers, just as they are in the AFC North standings.

Next up are Jason Cole and Charles Robinson’s Power Rankings for Yahoo! Sports. Jason Cole has the Browns in a holding pattern, stuck firmly at number 7. Cole writes,

“Cleveland showed on Sunday it truly belongs. The Browns aren’t some aberration. They are legit.”

Charles Robinson, however, moved the Browns up a notch to a peak position for the season of #6. His optimism about the Browns shows, as he writes,

“Believe it or not, with the schedule (at Cardinals, at Jets, Bills, at Bengals, 49ers) sitting in front of them, it’s possible the Browns don’t lose again and head into the postseason at 12-4.”

ESPN’s Power Rankings have the Browns on the move as well. This week they get bumped up a spot from #8 to #7. Mike McAllister writes,

“The Browns are plus-2 in the giveaway/takeaway category. That may not mean much to you, but the Browns have finished on the plus side of turnover differential just once since 1993.”

Next, we look at CBS SportsLine’s Power Rankings for this week. While a little lower than most rankings, SportsLine also has the Browns moving up spot, although here they go from #9 to #8. Peter Prisco writes,

“They are for real. And based on their schedule they have a good shot to be a playoff team. Going to Arizona this week to face a desperate team won’t be easy.”

Our next destination is the Fox Sports Power Rankings. The Fox Sports rankings are a bit of an enigma to understand. Peter Schrager has the Browns surprisingly low and he keeps the Browns at the same position as last week, number 9. But surprisingly, Schrager shows a lot of optimism in his comments about the Browns, writing,

“Break up the Browns! Derek Anderson continued his dream season, going 24-35 and tossing for two touchdowns, while Jamal Lewis gashed the Houston defense for 134 yards and a touchdown in Cleveland’s 27-17 win over the Texans. Cleveland improved to 7-4 with the victory — its fifth straight win at home. With Arizona, the Jets, Buffalo, Cincinnati, and San Francisco up ahead — there are five winnable games on the docket. A playoff berth in 2007? It’s very possible. A 12-win season, an AFC North title, and a first round bye? Hey, if Cleveland keeps playing like they have been the past few weeks, there’s definitely a chance.”

Finally, as always, we end with the Cleveland Sports Authority Power Rankings:

01. New England Patriots
02. Dallas Cowboys
03. Green Bay Packers
04. Indianapolis Colts
05. Pittsburgh Steelers
06. Jacksonville Jaguars
07. Cleveland Browns
08. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
09. Seattle Seahawks
10. New York Football Giants

Next up is our weekly look at what the ESPN.com analysts had to say about the Browns this week. There was a lot of talk this week about DA and the Browns QB situation going forward.

First stop, we take a look at the Winners chat from this week. Keith Kidd took the first question about DA:

John (Cincinnati, OH): Keith, am I crazy for thinking that the Browns should get whatever they can for Anderson this offseason while his value is high? For every amazing throw he makes he misses 3 dump-offs/check – down throws.

SportsNation Keith Kidd: Why should the Browns move him and go to a QB who has never played in the NFL. It makes no sense. Yes Anderson will struggle with his accuracy, but he has been a great story this year, and I would not trade him if I were the Browns.

Matt Williamson was next, and he talks about the balance of credit for the Browns success between the QB play and the O-Line performance:

John (Cincinnati, OH): The Browns are 7-4 in part b/c of Anderson. I’d have to say the Oline has done just as much if not more than Anderson. Might as well trade him instead of keeping him for 1 more year and letting him walk out the door. There is no way the Browns will sign him long term.

SportsNation Matt Williamson: I agree that the OL has been at least as important. That being said, I don’t think they would be 7-4 in Charlie Frye. Tough spot. They will tender him high for sure. Listen to offers. Don’t HAVE to move him. From what I understand, Quinn’s cap situation is pretty friendly for Clev if Quinn remains a backup. Good problem to have really.

He later took another question comparing DA to Chuck Frye:

Grover (Cleveland): Cleveland is 7-4 right now. Where do you think they would be with Frye still at QB?

SportsNation Matt Williamson: 3-8. DA is just a much better fit in that O. He is a much better pure thrower and that is what they need. Great OL. Good running game. Great weapons. Need a thrower. Still, DA isn’t very accurate and that often gets overlooked because his weapons have such huge catching radiuses. He needs the conditions to be near-perfect, but they often are behind Joe T and company.

Finally, Doug Kretz was up and he started by looking ahead to the Cardinals matchup:

Jay (NC): How do you think the Browns-Cards game will go next week? I think it will go like the Texans game with the Browns winning big something like 30-20. Cards D won’t be able to contain Winslow or Edwards. What do you think?

SportsNation Doug Kretz: I think that Arizona’s defense is better than most people realize.. If DA’s O line is able to give him time, like they have for most of this season, the Browns should win, but I think it will be a nail biter.

Finally, he ended with a question about DA and his accuracy:

Rob (Indiana): I’ve really enjoyed Derek Anderson, but can a guy with a 58% completion percentage stick as a starting QB? I would think you need to be at least 60% to make it in this league.

SportsNation Doug Kretz: While I think Anderson has “made it in this league” I don’t think he will ever be an elite QB.. Not mobile enough and a lot of his completions have been a result of great catches by Winslow and Edwards.

That wraps it up for this week. A little shorter than normal, but look for a post tomorrow discussing a wide range of Browns topics.

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