The Cincinnati Bengals were supposed to be the worst team in football.
No less than a dozen times did I hear them pegged for last place in the AFC North, and some even went as far to say the team could post a winless season.
Maybe they should be saying that about the Browns.
Cleveland underwhelmed in another new head coach's debut, coming out flat and finishing terribly in a 27-17 home defeat.
The Browns haven't won in a new coach's first contest since Bud Carson in 1989, and Sunday was no different.
In the second quarter, the Browns looked as if things were finally starting to click. Two nice passes from Colt McCoy gave the team a 14-13 advantage headed into half. After a Phil Dawson field goal, and a few Cincinnati punts, it seemed as if the team had things in control.
Then they had another patented Browns moment.
Bengals quarterback Bruce Gradkowski hurried his team to the line, not one Cleveland defender was paying attention or ready for the snap, and he tossed a touchdown pass to a wide open A.J. Green.
Only in Cleveland.
First game be damned, I don't care. I'm not jumping the gun here one game into the season. This is getting real old, real fast.
These Browns, the Mike Holmgren-era Browns, aren't supposed to have those moments anymore.
All the preseason hype about the team turning the corner again looks to be just that.
I mean, this is Cincinnati we're talking about.
The team that wouldn't grant a trade to its own franchise quarterback because he refused to play. The team that a year ago was more known for its wide receiver sideshow in Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. The Bungals!
If anyone needs a win just come to Cleveland.
The team never addressed its sheer lack of play makers and star power. They don't have a game-breaking receiver. They don't have a game-breaking back (Hillis is a great fullback, but he's not going to bust off any 70 yard runs anytime soon). They don't have a franchise quarterback or anyone on the defense that you would remember for anything other than getting lost in their own secondary.
The team will give sick money to Peyton Hillis. Only Cleveland will base a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract on a guy who looked great in a 5-11 season.
All this talk about the team turning the corner or heading in the right direction is futile until they actually show it in a real game.
Right now, Cleveland doesn't have the talent to consistently win in the NFL. They don't even have the talent to consistently beat the Bengals.
Next week they face the Colts, who looked about as hapless as a team can in its opening game. Somehow, some way, the Browns will find a way to make a game that they should win on paper ridiculously close. And if they have another Browns moment or two, they'll be back on the fast track to a high draft pick.
I write this at 7:30 on the first full day of NFL football. It took Cleveland exactly six and half hours into the season to make me tired of them already.
Hang on Browns fans. We've got a long, long way to go.
E-mail B.J. Lisko at firstname.lastname@example.org