Willis McGahee has only been around for a few weeks, but the veteran running back has already figured out Cleveland’s fragile sports psyche.
It’s pretty simple. When the Browns win, life is better.
“Everybody’s happy,” he said. “The town’s happy. We’re happy.”
Tied atop the AFC North with Baltimore and Cincinnati, the Browns (3-2) have become one of this season’s unforeseen success stories. They’re riding a three-game winning streak heading into today’s home game against the Detroit Lions (3-2), another team off to a surprisingly strong start.
Following their Oct. 3 win over Buffalo, the Browns learned that quarterback Brian Hoyer will miss the rest of the season after tearing a ligament in his right knee. It was a devastating blow for Hoyer, the Cleveland kid who guided his beloved Browns to wins over Minnesota and Cincinnati.
While Hoyer’s storybook season ended, Brandon Weeden’s took another dramatic turn.
After being chosen the starter out of training camp, Weeden played two games, got hurt, recovered and was demoted. He came off the bench for an injured Hoyer, got booed and rallied the Browns to a 37-24 win. The season hasn’t gone the way Weeden planned, but he’s grateful for a new beginning.
“You’ve just got to find a way to take the positives and build on them,” he said.
For the Lions, a victory today would match their entire win total from last season.
Last week, without superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Detroit couldn’t get anything going on offense and was beaten 22-9 by Green Bay.
Johnson’s status for today is questionable, leaving Matthew Stafford without his most valuable asset. If Johnson’s out, the Lions will need production from someone else.
GREEN BAY (2-2) AT BALTIMORE (3-2): The Packers looked strong enough coming off their bye to change the outlook for Cheeseheads to something more positive. A win at Baltimore, particularly without star linebacker Clay Matthews, would brighten things even more.
But Green Bay must find a way to block Terrell Suggs, who has stepped up on the transitioning Ravens defense and has a sack in five straight games.
CINCINNATI (3-2) AT BUFFALO (2-3): After edging the Patriots in a monsoon in Cincinnati, maybe the Bengals are wishing for an early blizzard in Buffalo. But they have lost six straight at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
What they will get is untested Thad Lewis, up from the practice squad, behind center for the Bills. Expect a heavy dose of aggressive defensive calls from coordinator Mike Zimmer.