There were plenty of good NFL matchups Sunday as the Saints played the Patriots, the Packers took on the Ravens, the 49ers and Cardinals did battle and the the Redskins and Cowboys tangled in the nightcap.
The Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns played in what definitely was not a showcase game. But the contest did pit two teams over .500 against each other, so it would have to be included as one of the good matchups, as well.
It was nice to see those two legendary franchises play a meaningful game. The financial struggles of both cities are well documented as Detroit is going through bankruptcy and Cleveland has its share of unemployment issues.
The football teams are able to pick the cities up and provide an outlet for entertainment and a point of pride in the community.
The Browns had surprised pundits and fans by coming back with three straight wins after an 0-2 start and trading starting running back Trent Richardson. The Lions have surprised pundits and fans by staying consistent with their play.
While the cities have kept their heads above water, sort of, the football teams have not done much of anything over the last few decades. Since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970, the Cleveland Browns have played in three AFC Championship Games and lost all three of them (all of them came against the Denver Broncos). The Detroit Lions have played one NFC Championship Game and lost it.
Neither team has seen action in the Super Bowl, a sad reality for two of the oldest, most historic franchises in the league. And it’s a really sad reality for fans of the teams.
Both teams are part of the all-time futility list of pro sports teams in the U.S. Thus, it is fitting for their game on Sunday to have the moniker of ‘Futility Bowl’.
It was an exciting game and kept the Lions on top of the NFC North division. Detroit made a big comeback in the fourth quarter on the road in Cleveland, overcoming a 10-point deficit, and won, 31-17.
Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden has yet to win as a starter this season, but the Browns are still relevant and viable as a possible playoff team with a 3-3 record.
The teams could play again this season, but that would be highly unlikely. It would make a great sounding Super Bowl, though: Browns versus Lions sounds great even for a regular season game.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com