Josh Lambo
The Browns won a game and might regret it come April
Josh Lambo

The Browns won a game and might regret it come April

Published Dec. 24, 2016 5:00 p.m. ET

The Cleveland Browns are not going to make the record books — they're just going to be another really bad team in the team's and league's long history of bad teams.

Merry Christmas, Cleveland.

It's time to celebrate along the Cuyahoga. Why wouldn't you celebrate? Saturday's 20-17 win over the San Diego Chargers seemed big — it was Cleveland's first victory of the season and meant it won't go down as one of three winless teams in NFL history. That's worth a beer or two.

The Browns earned the win. While some teams — *cough* Jets *cough* — have straight-up quit with nothing to play for this season, the Browns have continued to play to the best of their ability as the 2016 campaign has reached its final stages.

It was an uplifting victory with all the trademarks of the Browns' season — a quarterback injury, soul-crushing fumbles, poor tackling, bad offense and terrible defense in the final minutes of the game, giving San Diego a chance to tie the score at 20-20 with a 45-yard field goal as time expired.

Josh Lambo missed that hurried field-goal attempt, and the Browns were in the win column.

What a time to be alive.

There is one problem, though: The Browns might have played their way out of the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Yes, for a brief moment, the Browns were not the worst team in the NFL in 2016.

After Cleveland's win, the 49ers — the sad, pitiful 49ers — hold the tiebreaker that determines the worst team in the NFL. Should both teams end the season with one win, San Francisco will pick first overall.

That's probably not the biggest deal — Cleveland has the Eagles' first-round pick next year on top of its own selections in the 2017 NFL Draft — but you never know how the Browns will evaluate draft-eligible players over the next few months.

If Cleveland loves Myles Garrett, the otherworldly defensive end out of Texas A&M, it might not be able to get him come April. There will be other great players available at No. 2 -- the Browns can't pick any lower than that -- but it might not be the guy they want.

And what if the Browns fall for a player and identify him as a franchise-level talent — whether that be DeShaun Watson of Clemson or Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina? They might not get that guy now.


Because the Browns decided they didn't want to be considered one of the worst teams in NFL history, because they kept playing hard late in the season in an effort to win a game, Cleveland might be punished.

The NFL is unfair.

(Sidenote: the 49ers are so bad at drafting — even worse than the Browns —this point will probably prove moot.)

The lesson to be learned from all this: Get a win out of the way early and save your bad for the end of the season. That's what the 49ers did — they won Week 1 (we were all so innocent back then) and have seemingly gotten progressively worse since.

Now that's how you tank a season.



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