The Browns and 49ers haven’t been of much interest for a good while to NFL followers (except as sarcastic or comedic examples of poorly run franchises). But this year, both teams are the darlings of the expert prognosticators that glut the country from sea to shining sea.
Cleveland stumbled out of the gate this year, leading many to roll their eyes and do the “Same old Browns” rhumba. But they regained some luster last week by drubbing a Ravens team that many thought were legitimate SB contenders.
Time will tell whether that game was an aberration or a revelation.
It did make the Niners sit up and take notice, no doubt. They could have come off the BYE week feeling a little too full of themselves, but that shouldn’t be a concern now.
Nor should the 200+ yards the Browns put up running the ball against Baltimore. Nobody will put up those figures against the 49ers’ front seven. They’ve been stuffing the run all year and will do it again Monday night.
Both teams are in first place in their respective divisions, which has not occurred since the ’80s, when Cleveland, known then as the Cardiac Kids, made a couple of SB runs. One was squashed by John Elway and the other by an Ernest Byner fumble at the goal line.
Most expect this game to be a pissing contest between two young hotshot QBs – Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo. Unlike a lot of Monday Night matchups, this one should be fun to watch.