The wise guys are already forecasting that the Browns will play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the playoffs, although others predict they’ll play the San Diego Chargers.
It’s unanimous, however, that the Browns will make the playoffs as the last wild-card team. This Sunday they are favored by 51/2 points over the Buffalo Bills, who trail the Browns by one game in the wild-card chase. If the Browns win, Buffalo would be eliminated, leaving only Tennessee within striking distance.
Who expected this? Certainly not me. I think even Browns coach Romeo Crennel is surprised. He refuses to step back and admire his work, fearing that such self-indulgence will jinx him before it’s finished.
“Playoffs? I don’t know about any playoffs,” Romeo said Monday. “All I know is we’re getting ready to play the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.”
Browns fans are fearless, however, and if you’re a Browns fan in the Dawg Pound, you are more than fearless — you’re half-crazy. You’re already thinking about playing Pittsburgh in the first round.
“Actually, in the Dawg Pound they want Pittsburgh every Sunday,” said Richard “Zoom” Scott, a long-time denizen of the Dawg Pound. “Those people aren’t half-crazy, they’re totally crazy.”
Zoom said that every Sunday a chant starts in the Dawg Pound.
“Out of nowhere, for no reason, with no provocation, it will start,” said Zoom. “They’ll start chanting, ‘Pittsburgh sucks.’ We’ll be playing Cincinnati, Baltimore, Seattle — even Buffalo. It doesn’t matter. Pittsburgh sucks.”
I never liked repeating or quoting that expression, especially in print. But it’s the only way to illustrate the madness in the Dawg Pound. The rest of the stadium does not pick up the chant — it remains confined to the Pound. Regardless of the Browns’ opponent on any given Sunday, the Dawg Pounders are obsessed with the Steelers. This is beyond neurotic. This is lunacy.
But it reinforces the contention that the Browns-Steelers rivalry might be the most intense in all of sports. On the East Coast they think the Red Sox vs. the Yankees is the cat’s meow. That’s a good rivalry, but you’ll never hear 40,000 fans in Fenway Park chanting, ‘New Yawk sucks,’ in the middle of a game against the Blue Jays!
Ohio State-Michigan is close but they play only once a year. The Browns and Steelers do it twice a year and sometimes three times. This year could be the rare trifecta.
Contact Dan Coughlin at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.