NBA First Half Awards
With the season just over halfway done, let's look at the major awards. Feel free to disagree but it's James Hardens world right now and we're just living in it.
If you thought the Cleveland Browns would be in playoff contention by Week 15 this season after a 0-16 2017 season, go buy yourself a lottery ticket or something. The Browns record so far this season is 5-7-1. They are mathematically alive for either the AFC North crown or the number six seed in the AFC, but a lot of things needs to happen.
Cleveland needs to win all three remaining games on their schedule against the Denver Broncos (6-7) on the road, the Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) at home, and the Baltimore Ravens (7-6) on the road. Baltimore would need to lose twice and their games will be against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8) at home, the Los Angeles Chargers (10-3) on the road, and the Cleveland Browns at home.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1) has lost three games in a row and they will need to lose out in order for the Browns to have a shot to win the AFC North. Pittsburgh will face the New England Patriots (9-4) at home, the New Orleans Saints (11-2) on the road, and the Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) at home.
Cleveland would also need the Indianapolis Colts, the Miami Dolphins, and the Tennessee Titans to all finish with 8-8 records in order to get a second-wild card spot in the AFC.
The Cleveland Browns have been much better ever since firing Hue Jackson after Week 8 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cleveland is 3-2 in that span. Gregg Williams was the defensive coordinator at the beginning of the year, but he is serving as the interim coach.
Todd Haley was the offensive coordinator earlier in the year, but he was fired the same time as Hue Jackson. Freddie Kitchens has been a terrific offensive coordinator for the Browns as of late. Baker Mayfield is flourishing under him. He has completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 2,877 yards 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions so far this season.
Running back Nick Chubb is playing well. He is a rookie and they traded away Carlos Hyde to the Jacksonville Jaguars before the trade deadline. Chubb has rushed for 760 yards on 144 carries and eight touchdowns.
Cleveland's defense has also been very good this season. Myles Garrett has 12.5 sacks and 37 total tackles this season. Denzel Ward is a rookie cornerback and he has 48 tackles and three interceptions.
This team has the Cleveland Browns believing in the present and in the future. They have not been to the playoffs since the 2002 regular season and the 2003 postseason. It will be interesting how Cleveland finishes this season.
There is a slim chance they reach the postseason, but it would be an amazing story if they somehow sneaked into the playoffs this season.