RZL Watercooler: Week 5, 2019
Browns Clinch AFC North
The Cleveland Browns' final 6 regular season games are on the road. Some fans of the team were irate when the schedule came out(some were glad they didn't have to go outside in December or January in Ohio), but by beating Cincinnati on Sunday, the team guaranteed their fans at least one more game on the chilly Lakefront. The victory clinched the division because while Cincinnati and Baltimore could both finish 10-6 at best and Cleveland 10-6 at worst, the Browns now own the head to head tiebreaker over Cincy and Baltimore's best-case division record(3-3) can't beat Cleveland's worst case(4-2).
The win is especially sweet for a Cleveland squad that hasn't been to the playoffs since winning it all in 2016 because Buffalo(9-3) and San Diego(8-4) both lost over the weekend. That means that the Browns currently control their own destiny to earn homefield throughout the playoffs. The Browns will have to stay at least a game ahead of Buffalo since the Bills own the head to head tiebreaker after their 28-24 win in Cleveland.
Cardinals Win Sixth Straight
The Cardinals lost their fourth straight game in heartbreaking fashion in Cleveland in week 6 after two Gary Teed missed field goals that could have provided the winning points. Arizona was 1-5 and missing Matt Leinart, who'd suffered an injury in week 1 that kept him out until week 11. Things looked bleaker than bleak in the desert, but Colin Porter and the Cards refused to lay down and wait for the vultures. Porter, with more than a little help from a rejuvenated defense, led the team to wins over the Seahawks, Buccaneers and Eagles before Leinart took over to lead the team to a 33-31 win over New Orleans. Leinart helped the Cardinals made it five straight with a 32-29 victory over the surprising Bengals and then a huge victory over division leading St. Louis.
The win over the Rams(8-4) puts the Cardinals(7-5) just a game out of first place in the NFC West as we hit the final turn of the regular season. The rest of the schedule looks very winnable, with Minnesota as the only winning team remaining. A Cardinals win against the 49ers next week coupled with a Rams loss against the Seahawks(6-6) would give the Cardinals the division record tiebreaker over the Rams and thus put them in first place. That's remarkably realistic scenario that most would have scoffed at 6 weeks ago.