Alabama vs. Cleveland. It’s the debate that has consumed social media. Could the Alabama Crimson Tide beat the Cleveland Browns if the teams met up on the football field? In the updated college football rankings, Alabama is the unanimous No. 1 ranked team across all polls. Alabama is 11-0 and on a collision course with the College Football Playoff beginning in December.
Meanwhile, in the updated NFL standings, the Cleveland Browns have the worst record in the entire league at 0-11. The Browns have been playing some uninspired football lately, getting out-scored 325-184 on the way to an 11-game losing streak. Fans are already talking about who the team will try to select in the 2017 NFL Draft. That first pick is all that most Browns fans have to look forward to at this point of the season.
This is where the debate about an Alabama vs. Cleveland game officially begins. Can the best team in college football beat the worst team in the NFL? Catering to those football fans who might feel that this matchup makes sense, it can’t hurt to take a closer look at the statistics for each team.
In 11 games, the Alabama Crimson Tide have averaged 40.3 points, while allowing just 11.4 points per game on defense. Alabama averages 249.8 rushing yards per game, where the team focuses most of its offensive attack when it has the ball. The offense is ranked 13th best in the nation, while the defense is currently ranked as the second best.
As for the Cleveland Browns, the team averages just 16.7 points per game, while allowing opponents to score 29.5 points every weekend. The Browns average only 311.1 yards per game (total) which also ranks among the worst in the league. With some tough games ahead against teams like the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s possible the Browns could finish the season at 0-16.
Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts has completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 2,168 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. His favorite target has been Calvin Ridley, who has 57 catches for 640 yards and seven touchdowns. ArDarius Stewart has 39 catches for 683 yards and seven touchdowns on his own.
In the running game, Damien Harris has 114 carries for 853 yards, working out to an average of 7.5 yards per carry. Jalen Hurts has 803 yards on 142 carries (5.7 average) and 11 touchdowns during his time on the field. As a group, the Crimson Tide running attack has 2,748 yards on just 473 carries. That works out to 5.8 yards per carry, helping lead to 23 touchdowns on the ground.
In an Alabama vs. Cleveland game, it is likely that the group of running backs would get used quite often. The question is whether it would matter at all. There are a lot of fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide who feel that the group could just run over the Browns and that the defense could then keep them from even scoring on the other end of the field. This is where it starts to seem like Alabama fans are a bit delusional.
The Cleveland Browns have 53 men on the active roster, all of whom were star players at lower levels. Most of the players on the Browns were the stars of their college teams, including tackle Joe Thomas at Wisconsin, Terrelle Pryor at Ohio State, quarterback Cody Kessler at USC, quarterback Robert Griffin III at Baylor, receiver Corey Coleman at Baylor, defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah at Oklahoma State, defensive end Carl Nassib at Penn State, tackle Shon Coleman at Auburn, and linebacker Joe Schobert at Wisconsin. That doesn’t even cover Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden.
If a game ever came to pass that involved the current Cleveland Browns and Alabama Crimson Tide players, it would be a totally one-sided affair, with the Browns likely winning by more than four touchdowns. That’s how it would be if any college team, most of which have seven or fewer players who will ever play in the NFL, would fair against a team of professional athletes. It takes nothing away from Alabama, as they could be the best team in college football this season, but no college team is going to beat an NFL roster.
[Featured Image by Jason Miller/Getty Images]