The Cleveland Browns, for fear of a jinx, or a complete collapse of the team before a “should win” game, I chose to not write this article for fear of the wrath of the Gods. The Browns are facing what must be their most important stretch of games since their return to the league in 1999.

After pulling off a rather uncomfortably close game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Browns have a quick turn around, and must travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals on Thursday night prime-time television. If you were to take a survey amongst your fellow Browns fans, you would be hard pressed for any of the Browns faithful to come up with a remotely recent memory of the Browns playing in the national spotlight when it actually mattered.

Clearly this team has bought in to Mike Pettine’s “play like a Brown” attitude. The culture is beginning to change, and the city of Cleveland has more to be hopeful for other than the return of their native son LeBron James (which was certainly disappointing opening night).

But there are still question marks on this team. Will the running game return to the dominate force it was in the first five games? Will the defense ever figure out how to stop the run-game? And will Josh Gordon be a blessing when he returns in three weeks?

Regardless of the circumstances, fans should be grateful for the 5-3 start the team has had this season. And although the likelihood of the Browns being a legitimate threat in the playoffs, a chance to play on after week 17 would be an important step in the progression of making the Cleveland Browns a team to be fearful of.

If you missed the Browns game against the Bucs, you probably were better off missing it. Some people have high blood pressure, and Sunday’s game wouldn’t have helped. And as far as Thursday night is concerned, the Browns will simply have to suck it up, and play the game they are capable of playing.

After Thursday night the Browns will host the surprising Texans at home before traveling to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. If the Browns can beat the Bengals, and take one out of the next two, then they will be in an excellent position for the final leg of the season.

Who would have thought that the Browns would be playing meaningful football in the second half of the season? For the first time in seven years, Cleveland fans have something to be proud of.

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