The Browns’ 2018 season has been ridiculous. Too ridiculous. Through five games, the Browns have seen one tie, three overtimes, a miss on one out of every three field goals, and a messianic comeback win. After the Browns’ 12-9 victory over Baltimore on Sunday, their season has surpassed fiction and reality TV (a different type of fiction) and entered the twilight zone. It’s clear that Cleveland’s games are being influenced from somewhere. The only question is whether it is coming from above or from afar. Let’s run through the possible explanations behind the Browns’ wacky season.
Option 1: Buffalo Wild Wings Is the Football Illuminati
If Buffalo Wild Wings is capable of convincing millions of adults across America to call chicken nuggets “boneless wings,” they are capable of anything –– even changing the outcome of sporting events:
(For the record, I do not judge people who prefer chicken nuggets over chicken wings. I just am angry that a conglomerate has rebranded chicken nuggets successfully enough to sell eight of them for $13.29.)
Bud Light has gotten all the attention for their victory fridges, but Buffalo Wild Wings is the real corporate entity profiteering off of this Browns season, possibly by extending their games, manipulating plays, and coercing penalty calls to reverse-engineer the wackiest outcomes possible to squeeze every last dollar out of their entertainment-starved patrons. How else can we explain the Browns season, which has included eight offensive overtime drives in just five games?
Consider the evidence. In Week 1, the Browns tied their division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in a game featuring biblical rain storms that affected play throughout, including this underthrown would-be-game-winning touchdown to Josh Gordon that was intercepted by Steelers defensive back Cameron Sutton to send the game to overtime:
Based on this Buffalo Wild Wings commercial, the chain restaurant founded in 1982 claims to have the ability to affect field conditions.
This may seem outlandish, but just think about it: One week after the deeply suspicious Week 1 non-loss, the Browns took on the Saints in New Orleans, and their then-kicker Zane Gonzalez promptly melted down. He missed two of four field goals and both extra points, then the Browns managed a miracle touchdown to Antonio Callaway to tie the game with less than 90 seconds to play. The kicker even missed the extra point to take the lead after this touchdown:
B-Dubs can’t win them all: The Saints quickly drove down and kicked a field goal to go up three, and the Browns weren’t able to hit a field goal of their own and lost, 21-18.
This week is perhaps the strongest evidence yet that BWW was trying to extend the game as long as possible. When receiver Jarvis Landry had the chance to spring a game-winning touchdown, Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr leveled him on what seemed like a clear penalty. Instead, the Browns turned the ball over on downs.
Not calling a penalty there is the real-life non-call version of this.
Option 2: God
I know it sounds ridiculous that a sports bar franchise is controlling the fate of Browns games, which is why we should consider a divine explanation: angels. As the 1997 documentary Angels in the Endzone established, angels can reverse the fortunes of football teams in America, and they have a particular preference for teams in dire circumstances. It’s the best explanation for how Nick Chubb rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns on three carries against Oakland last week (also, Jon Gruden definitely might have ticked off some people upstairs this season).
It would also explain the final play of the Browns’ victory over Baltimore, when kicker Greg Joseph sent a 37-yard field goal wobbling through the uprights.
Was it blocked? Or was it something else?
Option 3: Occam’s Razor
We’d be remiss if we didn’t look at the most obvious answer: the folly of mankind. Hue Jackson, whose Browns record now sits at 3-33-1, still helms Cleveland, and he continues to outdo himself. After the Browns kicked the game-winning field goal against Baltimore on Sunday, Jackson appeared to give a sign indicating two seconds were left in the game, even though Cleveland had scored in a sudden-death situation, nullifying the clock.
Did Hue Jackson understand that even tho there were 2 seconds left, that field goal won the game? pic.twitter.com/SMmnqSt5Rb— Eric Stangel (@EricStangel) October 7, 2018
There’s a possibility Jackson was signalling it was the Browns’ second win, but, given everything we’ve learned about Jackson’s tenure thus far, how much faith do you have that he was on top of this situation? Corporate espionage and divine intervention are tantalizing possibilities, but the most likely answer is that when you have a wacky coach, wacky shit happens.