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Monday Night Football could set up first place battle

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a victory over the division rival Los Angeles Rams in Week 5, the Seattle Seahawks currently sit in second place in the NFC West with a 4-1 record. They are behind, of course, one of just two remaining unbeaten teams in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers who are 3-0 having had an early Week 4 bye and who have yet to play their Week 5 game against the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns and 49ers will face off in a nationally televised primetime game that may have appeared, coming into the season, as an unattractive matchup. Over the four years prior to 2019, Cleveland and San Francisco had combined for a total of 28 combined wins, or and average of just seven wins between the two teams per season. At the conclusion of tonight’s contest, the two teams will have a combined record of 6-3, with the Niners still able to look forward to games against the Washington Redskins, two games against the Arizona Cardinals and a December showdown with the Atlanta Falcons. For the Browns, they still have five games remaining against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins, who currently are a combined 1-13, with the lone win coming in the game in which the Steelers and Bengals played one another.

In short, these two teams should be able to far exceed what they’ve done in recent seasons over the remainder of 2019, however, what’s most relevant right now is what could happen to the standings if the Browns are able to win this evening. While the Seahawks are currently behind the 49ers in the standings thanks to the fact that the Niners are undefeated, a Browns win on Monday would leave San Francisco at 3-1, which is a .750 winning percentage. With Seattle at 4-1, that would place their .800 winning percentage ahead of the 49ers, meaning a Browns win puts Seattle in first place.

In addition, Cleveland currently sits at 2-2, just behind the Baltimore Ravens at 3-2. A win by the Browns this evening would obviously push those two teams into a tie at 3-2, but thanks to the Browns Week 4 win over the Ravens, the Browns would be in first place by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Thus, if the Cleveland Browns win Monday night, that will set up the Week 6 showdown between the Browns and Seahawks as a battle of two division leading teams. As of this writing, the 49ers are 5.5 point favorites over the visiting Browns, and as I’ve covered in the past, when a team from the Pacific Time Zone and a team from the Eastern Time Zone play in primetime, the team from the Pacific Time Zone wins the overwhelming majority of the time.

So, while Vegas and the odds say the Niners will win, for Seahawks fans who want the Hawks to move into first place, it’s go Browns all night long.