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Ivey: Same old same old in the NFL

| Thursday, September 22, 2016

We are now officially two weeks into the 2016 NFL Season and we’re already getting a good idea of how this season is going to go for some teams.

No matter who is the starting quarterback of the New England Patriots, they’re going to have a good season. The Denver Broncos replaced a legendary quarterback with Trevor Siemian and they’re still going to have a good season behind an unbelievable defense. Teams like the Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks seem destined to be consistent title contenders, while teams like the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Rams and Miami Dolphins always seem like teams destined to live in the depth of mediocrity.

As always, it’s the same old same old.

Sure there are those teams whose success fluctuates from year to year, like the Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers and Kansas City Chiefs. But for the majority of teams in the NFL, their destiny seems to be already determined even before the season begins.

For a league that wants parity, the NFL sure doesn’t have a lot of it.

Dating back to the 2003 season, the team that represents the AFC in the Super Bowl has been quarterbacked by either Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger an astonishing 12 out of 13 times (the only exception being back in 2012 when Joe Flacco led the Ravens to a Super Bowl). The Patriots have won the AFC East division title 13 of the last 15 seasons and have been to the AFC Championship Game every year for the past five seasons. The Broncos have won the AFC West division title every year the past five seasons. The AFC South always seems to be a constant battle between the Colts and Texans. The Packers always seem to reign supreme over the NFC North. Trends like these make fans of other teams uninterested in watching their team because deep down they already know what is going to happen.

Some know this feeling more than others.

Look no further than the Cleveland Browns. It takes a special type of person to be a Cleveland Browns fan. Their history of little success is well documented and could be called an art form by some. Not even Bill Belichick could succeed in Cleveland during his tenure there before the franchise moved to Baltimore. The franchise was reincarnated in 1999, and has since gone through a total of nine head coaches — four in the past six years — and has produced only one playoff appearance, back in 2002. After quarterback Josh McCown was injured this past week, the Browns announced that rookie quarterback Cody Kessler will start this week. This marks the fifth quarterback to start for the Browns in their past five games dating back to last season.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are right alongside the Browns in the Hall of Mediocrity. The Jaguars have had a good amount of success in their brief history, making the playoffs in four of their first five seasons in the league, and six times overall. However, since the 2008 season they have consistently been one of the worst teams in the league year in and year out. Despite a number of good draft picks in the past three years, the Jaguars can’t quite seem to put it all together. Some injuries have played a role in that, but most of their draft picks just aren’t panning out.

It seems that no matter what year it is, the football gods are a lot kinder to some teams more than others. Fans of consistently mediocre teams are praying for a change soon. The question is, will it ever come?

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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