The 2016-17 Browns officially have passed the 1976-77 Buccaneers for the worst two-season run of futility at 1-27, versus Tampa’s 2-26. The 2017 Browns still have a chance to match the 2008 Lions for the worst single-season failure in NFL history.
At 0-12, the Browns have four chances to do something they haven’t done since Week 16 of 2016: Win a game.
“There are only four left, you said it,” Browns coach Hue Jackson told reporters earlier this week. “I do not look at it and think of it that way. It is Green Bay this week. That is the only thing that we can worry about. I do not look and say, ‘Well, maybe it is this one. Maybe it is that one.’ We have to go out and play our tails off to try to secure a win this week here at home in front of our fans. That has to mean something to our players, too, being in front of the Dawg Pound and at home. I think our guys will come out and play well.”
If the Browns lose at home to the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers, Cleveland will have one more chance at home, the following Sunday against the Ravens. It will be one day away from the 10-year anniversary of Baltimore’s loss to the then-winless Dolphins, who nearly went 0-16 a year before the Lions pulled it off. But these Ravens are chasing a playoff berth, and chances are they won’t let their foot slip off the pedal against the team that now is the franchise the Ravens once were.
So then it will come down to road games at Chicago and Pittsburgh, making the contest at the three-win Bears the last, best chance to avoid going 0-16. That game will happen on Christmas Eve, precisely one year after the team’s most recent win.
It may not have to come to that. The Packers are a very different team without Rodgers, with a sputtering offense and a defense that is hardly dominant. Maybe this weekend will be the one in which the Browns secure their one win of the year.
However the final four weeks play out, it’s clear that the Browns aren’t getting it done, and that major changes are needed — again — for the franchise that has one playoff appearance since it returned to the NFL in 1999.