Five National Football League teams have new head coaches this season, two of them square off tomorrow in Dallas when the Cowboys host the Cleveland Browns. The new coach in Dallas, Mike McCarthy, it can be argued inherited the best talent to coach in his first year with his new team. His opponent this week, Kevin Stefanski, also started his career in Cleveland with what can be argued to be a talented roster.
The difference between these two franchises is that the Cowboys talent has resulted in a competitive team with playoff credentials, and the Browns talent has led to nine new head coaches since 2008.
News outlets have obituaries ready to publish when a celebrity passes, the Cleveland Browns public relations department is best to have a similar file on hand when a new coach is hired.
But, before we add Stefanski to the list of Cleveland castoffs, let's give him a chance to be the answer in Cleveland. To rise to the level of some great Cleveland coaches of the past like Paul Brown or Marty Schottenheimer. In his first game as the Browns coach, he looked a lot more like last year’s stop gap coach, Freddie Kitchens, than a man ready to follow in the footsteps of Brown or Schottenheimer.
Cleveland opened on the road last month, and the Baltimore Ravens treated them like they were no better than the team that more often plays a season to get a top draft pick than earn a postseason slot. The Ravens took apart Cleveland's high hopes with a 38-6 drubbing. Which left the Browns with an early season question, what’s worse, their offense or defense?
But, the Browns have bounced off that opening day lopsided loss with a pair of wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins. Okay, I hear you, let's not give too much credit for a team to beat two of the worst teams in football, and a pair of squads that have only one win between them after a combined six games.
How about giving them credit if they beat Dallas in Texas?
What may surprise you is that the Cowboys have less wins and no point spread victories this season.
They opened as a road favorite in Los Angeles, and the Rams inaugurated their new stadium with a narrow 20-17 triumph over the visitors. The Cowboys then took advantage of a brain dead Atlanta Falcons team to overcome a 20 point deficit and edge the Falcons at AT&T Stadium by one point, 40-39. Last week, on the road, Dallas hung with the talented Seattle Seahawks but ended up on the wrong side of both the game and wager while losing by seven points, 38-31.
What this serves up for us on Sunday is an overrated Cowboys team without a point spread win and an underrated Browns squad with two wins straight up and a point spread decision.
After this one, I suspect it will be McCarthy who is left wondering what is to happen with his underperforming team and Stefanski who will be bolstered to think perhaps his Browns are as good as he had hoped before they were hammered on opening day in Baltimore.
While the two coaches with their new teams sort out their feelings after the game, I suggest you cash their realizations.
Qoxhi Picks: Cleveland Browns (+4½) over Dallas Cowboys