Freddie Kitchens' much-hyped Cleveland Browns are 5-7 and staring at a steep climb into the postseason after Sunday's loss.
It's his first season, but if preseason prognostications were our guiding light, this is not how things were supposed to go. The Browns acquired Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon in the offseason, landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated and were a favorite pick, if not a supposed lock to make the playoffs. It'll be rather difficult for that to happen after the defeat at the hands of the Steelers dropped them two games below .500 with four to play.
Kitchens took the podium for his usual Monday press conference with reporters and spoke for nearly 37 minutes, answering a variety of questions ranging from his Friday night attire to his benching of safety Damarious Randall. After 15 minutes of questions, a reporter asked Kitchens if he was concerned about his job security.
"No, I'm not," Kitchens replied bluntly.
Kitchens' Browns would have to win out to have a decent shot at the final wild card spot in the AFC. With Pittsburgh sitting in it at 7-5 and three teams above Cleveland at 6-6 or better (Tennessee is 7-5), the Browns would also need some help.
There's no time for scoreboard watching, though, because if the Browns don't win the next game, none of that matters.
"Just simply put, the same way we did when we were 2-6," Kitchens said when asked how he can keep his players engaged despite the disappointing loss. "These guys invested a lot getting back to the point to get us where this game even meant anything. Moving forward, we're going to do the same thing, because I know this: We have zero percent chance unless we take care of what we can take care of, and that's just to go 1-0 this week."
Their next opponent, the 1-11 Cincinnati Bengals, just upset the New York Jets in resounding fashion. The Browns will have to play the Bengals twice in their final month, travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals, and hope for a huge upset over a white-hot Baltimore Ravens team that hasn't lost since the Browns beat them way back in Week 4. We'll see if any of that matters after Sunday.