The Cleveland Browns are on the fast track to 0-16, and while a win would be a nice surprise, it may disrupt the chances of landing the No. 1 overall pick.
December is not a fun month to be a Cleveland Browns fan. Except for 2002 and 2007, the month has been filled with disappointment since 1999.
While other fan bases around the nation wait for Sundays in December in anticipation of great play, Browns fans are often subject to painful, low-scoring games that only matter when it comes to where the team will pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
This is once again the case this year, as the Browns are currently in position to have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. This may have been the front office’s plan all along, so let’s see if they capitalize upon the opportunity, or waste it as other groups in charge have done in the recent past.
The current 0-12 record puts the Browns ahead of the 1-10 San Francisco 49ers for that first overall pick. However, the a tiebreaker between the two teams at season’s end would go to the 49ers, who currently have a lower strength of schedule.
The 49ers do have remaining games against the Chicago Bears and New York Jets, which may give Chip Kelly’s team a chance to pick up a second win in 2016. If that happens, that should be enough to give the Browns the No. 1 pick, as it is highly unlikely the team can pull off two wins in the final four games.
A 49ers victory would take away the discussion of whether the Browns would be better off losing every game, but if the 49ers continue to lose, fans may begin to root for the Browns to continue the march toward 0-16.
Owning the No. 1 overall pick is a nice benefit to have, but it comes at the cost of demoralizing an entire team and fan base when the way to earn the top pick is an 0-16 record.
And it is not like the players on the team want to finish winless. While executives may view the wins and losses as unimportant this year, the players are still fighting each week to win football games.
Finishing the season with a record of 0-16 may not seem like a big deal to those not on the roster, but it could do irreparable damage to this extremely young team. Having a roster filled mostly with first or second-year players who went an entire season without a win would not bode well for the team’s chances in 2017 and beyond.
So while getting the No. 1 overall pick would be nice, fans should still root for the team to pick up at least one win in 2016. A 1-15 record is still pitiful, but at least the young players would enter 2017 with a sense of what it feels like to win a game.
Besides, even if Browns fans continue to root for victories, it may not be enough for this team. After the first 12 games, trying to win one of the final four games may be too tall of a task for the Browns.