The Browns are counting on rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, who led Notre Dame to four wins last season as a junior. When the season opens Sept. 10 against Pittsburgh, Kizer will become the 27th QB to start a game for the Browns since they returned to the league as an expansion team in 1999. AP photo
Photo: Jason Behnken
Photo: Jason Behnken

Second Thoughts: Bengals, Browns will fight for last in AFC North

I’m on Day 4 of my five-day Football’s Back celebration, which I’ll top off with Tennessee-Georgia Tech on Monday night. Heck, I’m feeling so good that I might even look for a replay of the Fairmont-Alter game. Bring it on.

Let’s see: Bengals bad boy Vontaze Burfict is suspended. Check. The Browns have a new quarterback. Check. Must be time for the NFL. I’ve got a bad feeling that it’s going to be a long season for our Ohio teams (and a great one for the Steelers). There seems to be no excitement around the Bengals, whose home games probably will be blacked-out on TV because the fans are tired of Andy Dalton, or they’ve switched to soccer.

The Browns won one game last season. The good news is that the eight other teams that did that won an average of 6.6 games the following season. Cleveland will try to make progress with rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, who as a junior led Notre Dame to a 4-8 record last season. Great. The last time the Browns had a winning season was 2007 (10-6). In the nine seasons since, they’ve averaged 4.2 wins.

If you mention the name “Desmond Howard” around my Ohio-born wife, prepare to duck. She was not impressed when I told her Howard is picking Wisconsin to make the College Football Playoff. Translation: He’s not picking Ohio State. I assured her Desmond was delusional because he also picked Stanford to beat Alabama in the championship game. And he has Miami (Fla.) making the top four. Howard is a South Beach resident, so he’s probably just trying to get free drinks with that pick.

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin provided us with the best coach-speak of the week. When asked about the Aggies quarterback situation, Sumlin mumbled: “We’re happy with our plan. We know what we want to do, and we started to work that plan last week. Our team understands what’s going on, and the guys know what’s happening.” He has a plan, I guess. Maybe A&M will start Johnny Manziel tonight against UCLA.

Maria Sharapova won her first U.S. Open match last week after returning from a 15-month suspension for using a banned substance. Sharapova, grunting loud enough to wake up a deaf guy in Brooklyn, beat the No. 2 seed. The blonde Russian was in a festive mood. She wore an outfit that was a cross between cocktail dress and lingerie. Throw in Tom Rinaldi’s awkward post-match interview and it made for interesting TV.

Trending up: Cavaliers, Floyd Mayweather, Matthew Stafford. The Kyrie Irving deal finally is done, and the Cavaliers did all they could to cushion the blow of LeBron’s departure, whenever that may be. Cleveland rolled the dice and asked for more when there was some question about Isaiah Thomas’ hip. In the end, the Cavs get three players (to me, Jae Crowder is the key to this trade), a lottery pick and a second-round pick. Nice.

Trending down: Raekwon Davis, Jarvis Landry, Tyler Eifert. Davis, a defensive end for Alabama, was shot in the leg outside a bar in Tuscaloosa last Saturday night. It’s a minor wound, and Davis reportedly was not cooperative with police. The bar owner says that’s because Davis accidentally shot himself. I doubt we’ll ever get the full story. If Davis did shoot himself, it’s a good time to point out that another football knucklehead famous for shooting himself in the leg, Plaxico Burress, also played for Nick Saban (at Michigan State).