Trent Richardson #33 of the Cleveland Browns scores a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on September 27, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens led the Browns 9-7 at the half.
Photographer: (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND - For the first time in a long time Browns fans have had something to smile about: an actual winning streak.
The orange helmets will carry a three-game winning streak into Sunday's game against the red-hot Washington Redskins.
The Browns are after their first four-game winning streak since the end of the 2009 season. The Redskins, who have won four-straight games, are trying to stretch it to five in a row for the first time since 2007. The Redskins are still in the hunt for a division title and can't afford any slip ups in the final three weeks.
Let's put the playoff talk aside for just a minute. Sunday's game is about winning, the chance for the Browns to show that this young team is finally putting things together and that they have potential for the future.
Trent Richardson has not played at full strength all season. He has gutted out a rib injury that would have ended most players' season a long time ago. Robert Griffin III is playing with a sprained ACL. The Redskins best chance to win Sunday is with RG3 running the show.
The weather forecast calls for rain and what could be a very slick grass field. Not the most ideal conditions for a game that means so much to both sides. If the Browns can run the football with any style of success and the slick conditions dictate how much RG3 can move around, advantage Browns.
The Redskins can run the ball as well with rookie Alfred Morris, who is ironically a childhood friend of Richardson from Florida. Morris is currently fourth in the league with 1,228 yards rushing. Richardson enters Sunday's game one touchdown away from setting the rookie club record he currently shares with the great Jim Brown.
Let's make no mistake, Robert Griffin III is the X-factor.
RG3 is tied for the highest quarterback rating in the league at 104.2. Griffin III has done a great job protecting the football, throwing just four interceptions in the last 351 attempts for an offense that ranks fifth in the NFL and first in rush yards per game at 167.5.
Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron talked about how potent the Redskins QB/RB combo have become.
“I would say that the combination of the two of them together benefits each of them. They seem to have a good feel for what they’re trying to do, clearly, and they execute it really well and the running back is a huge part of it.
The Redskins defense has been the weaker of the two sides of the football, giving up 388 yards per game, ranking them 28th in the NFL. The Redskins defense has been gouged by the deep pass and with the development of Josh Gordon, the Browns will no doubt take their shots.
Gordon has 18 catches for 262 yards the past three games. No surprise, they are all wins.
Last week, the Browns opened up the playbook against the Kansas City Chiefs and rolled up 30 points. Let's not get all excited about hanging 30 on the Chiefs, however offensive coordinator Brad Childress was asked how much untapped potential remains from his offense.
“You’re probably talking about a yearly thing. I don’t know how much more in three games, hopefully enough to win three games. I would think getting into the play book you probably start to do some things as you get into the next year and the next year, with the young people that are in there.”
The Browns offense has made big leaps each and every week. A lot of the success has to go to an offensive line that has stayed healthy and played very well this season, in protecting a young quarterback and opening holes for a young running back.
The 72 starts this year by Browns rookies is by far the most in the NFL. The Colts are a distant second with 44. Yes, this is a young team and now they are learning what it is like to string wins together.
You can question who the Browns have beaten over the past three weeks, but like all the other 31 NFL teams, you have to play who is on your schedule.
The Browns are 4-1 in their last 5 games at home and have a chance to make a late season statement for the first time in many years. Sunday's game is not as much about a playoff run this year, as it is being in the playoff hunt every year.
A win against the Redskins could start the orange helmets on the right track for a long, long time.
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