December 19, 2014

Elyria
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Dan Coughlin: Browns’ playoff hopes looking dim

 This is not a comforting thought. The Browns’ only playoff chance rests on the right arm of Indianapolis Colts backup quarterback Jim Sorgi.
You’d have a better chance of betting on Karl Wallenda to tightrope across the Grand Canyon on dental floss.
The Browns and Titans enter the final weekend of the regular season deadlocked with 9-6 records, but the only way the Browns can edge out the Titans for the last wild card spot is if Tennessee loses Sunday night to Indianapolis. The Browns can’t win it. Tennessee can only lose it. Because of the tie-breaker scenario, the Browns have no other options. (Actually, there is one. If the Titans and Colts tie, the Browns can slip in, but that’s less likely than Dennis Kucinich becoming our next president.)
Normally, the Colts would be heavy favorites over the Titans. But not this week. With the Colts having clinched their division championship and a first-round bye in the playoffs, coach Tony Dungy said he will rest many of his regulars, including quarterback Peyton Manning, to avoid the risk of injury. Manning probably will start, but will play only a series or two.
This is just terrific
Manning’s backup is the 27-year-old Sorgi, whom the Colts drafted in the sixth round out of Wisconsin in 2004. The lanky 6-5,
195-pounder has appeared in 12 games total with 66 completions in 102 attempts for 683 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. That’s his entire NFL career. In three games this year, Sorgi is 7-for-12 for 64 yards.
Furthermore, rookie wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, who has replaced the aging Marvin Harrison, suffered a foot injury this past Sunday. He says he wants to play. The team doctor has cleared him to play. But Dungy will be guided by other priorities. He needs Gonzalez at full strength for the playoffs.
The implications are not lost on the Las Vegas oddsmakers, whose opening line had Tennessee favored by 3 1/2 over the Colts, even though the game is in Indianapolis.
Tennessee will play like frenzied madmen while the Colts’ only incentive will be to keep their best players healthy.
We’ve seen this scenario often enough. Only this past Sunday, Tampa Bay rested most of its stars because the outcome would not affect their position on the playoff bracket sheet. As a consequence, the Bucs lost to the sad sack San Francisco 49ers.
Here’s the final blow to the Browns. They won’t learn their fate until almost midnight on Sunday. The Titans-Colts game starts at 8:15 that night, the final game of the entire NFL regular season.