Ok, Ok. I know what you are thinking. "Wait, isn't SUTTON the guy who tells us that we will win the AFC East? Isn't he the guy who rushes to the Dolphins aide anytime a media critic has something negative to say? Isn't he the guy who lets Alpha flirt with his pregnant wife 24/7?" All true. But if anything, I care about my reputation here at the Phinsider and it's time I prove it. Although, I admit, I am more on the optimistic side of things no matter what. But in my defense, I believe I am a realist and will support anything I have to say with facts, or at the very least, educated conjecture. Which bring me to...
The Cleveland Browns.
You might be rolling your eyes. I mean, c'mon, it's the Browns. They suck. But let me tell you why this 1st game of the season really worries me. And it's NOT because I think we will lack chemistry.
I have lived in Ohio my entire life, so I am relegated to going to the closest possible Dolphins games. I have attended the last 4 Dolphins-Browns games and the results are quite pathetic. 2005. Reuben Droughns runs for a 75-yd TD on the very first play from scrimmage for the Browns. Gus Frerotte was our QB. Trent Dilfer did everything he wanted against us. Trent Dilfer. A 5 year-old heckled me the entire game. Browns 22, Dolphins 0. Personal aside: I got so drunk that game that I fell asleep on the train taking me back to my buddy's house and ended up 4 cities over from where I was supposed to be. I mean, how drunk would you get if Reuben Droughns and Trent Dilfer owned your team?!
2007. A high-scoring game and the Dolphins were within 3 going into the 4th after being down 17 at halftime, but Derek Anderson and Braylon Edwards proved to be too much. Let that sink in for a moment. Derek Anderson and Braylon Edwards. Browns 41-Dolphins 31. Personal aside: The 5 year-old, now a 7 year-old, told me that the Dolphins play like girls (I went with a buddy who had season tickets and the same family sat next to us).
2010. Jake Delhomme out-dueled Chad Henne (QB match-up of the century) and the Browns won a fairly boring game. Chad Henne threw 3 INT's and Phil Dawson kicked the game winner as time expired, 13-10. Personal aside: I tailgated with that same Cleveland buddy, and one of his friends seemed really nice. He came up to me before the game and said, "Hey, good luck, dude. Glad you were able to join us." And he patted me on the back. What a nice guy, I thought. Lo and behold, I walked through the entire stadium with a "KICK ME" sign on my back for the whole game. I wondered where the random bursts of laughter were coming from.
2011. I thought this was our year to beat the Browns. The game was close, but halfway through the 3rd quarter we started to assert our dominance running the ball and moving the chains. I felt confident to run my mouth. I had a Screech Diamond (from Saved by the Bell) wig on and an overall annoying outfit that brought unnecessary attention to myself, and I was not hesitant to share with the sea of brown and orange around me what I thought of Colt McCoy and his redneck, rebel-flag persona. I may have cursed around children. Then, in a blink of an eye, Yosemite Sam threw a TD to Massaquoi in the back corner of the end zone and took the lead with only seconds to play. In an instant, a dozen Browns fans turned around, pointed their finger at me and said what they had to say, and my wife quickly left to let me drown in the bed that I had made. My sister pretended like she didn't know me. Head down and penis seriously deflated, I dragged my feet out of the stadium, but at least I didn't have a "KICK ME" sign on my back. Browns 17-Dolphins 16. Personal aside: Thank God for weed or I might have cried.
The moral of the story? Don't take the Browns for granted. Browns Stadium will be absolutely packed with rabid fans - we will be in a most hostile environment right out of the gate. Our 1st 5 games of the 2013 season are: @ CLE, @ IND, vs. ATL, @ NO, vs. BALT. It gets a little better from there on out, but we run the gauntlet from the get-go. It's important that we win this 1st game to not only set the tone for the entire season, but it's one of "those" games that you MUST win to be a playoff team. I see no scenario where we lose to the Browns and get in the playoffs. If we lose to the Browns, it's very possible we start the season 0-5. I like to believe that we can beat the Colts, seeing as how it should've happened last year (damn TY Hilton bomb in double coverage). But there's no reason to think they won't beat us again. The Browns are goal #1, and really, the only goal we should have at this point. To win in the NFL, you have to take the season as a game-by-game approach, and it starts with the Cleveland Browns. We came out against Houston last year and looked abysmal. If we start off that way in 2013, what we look like on paper won't matter so much, because we are looking at yet another mediocre season. The Browns may have an unsettled QB situation, but they have one of the best RB's in the league in Trent Richardson, an improved pass rush, a solid OL, an improved LB corps (Paul Kruger), and a guy by the name of Davone Bess. I have no doubt that Davone Bess will put his best foot forward to prove to the Dolphins why they were dumb to trade him. Josh Gordon and Greg Little on top of that, and all of a sudden, we are in a fight. A fight that we must win to win the marathon that is the NFL season. The playoffs in 2013 begins with the Cleveland Browns, week 1. This is the game that will show us fans what we have in store for the 2013 season...I just hope that I'm not being heckled by a now 13 year-old kid. He might have something more clever to say.
Take care everyone, and wish me luck on brainwashing my son into being a Dolphins fan! Go Fins!