CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Browns - participants in just one playoff game since their resurrection eight years ago - are trying to quell talk of making the postseason this year until they make it.
"It doesn't mean anything till you get there," linebacker Willie McGinest said. "We've got a lot of football left. We're a 6-4 team. It's not like we've clinched anything. We're fighting tooth and nail every week."
McGinest said coaches, as well as "guys who've been there before" are sending the message that the team isn't talking about it and isn't worried about it.
Although McGinest didn't specify just who the guys who've been there before are, receiver Joe Jurevicius and center Hank Fraley are probably joining McGinest in toeing the new party line.
Those three have collectively been on 15 playoff teams and appeared in eight Super Bowls.
They know what they're talking about.
"We're just trying to play one game a week and at the end of our 16 games, we'll see what happens," McGinest said.
"You see it all the time across the league. Guys are 6-2, whatever, and they start talking playoffs and the next thing you know they lose four or five in a row and don't even make the playoffs."
The two remaining captains from the 2002 playoff team, linebacker Andra Davis and kicker Phil Dawson, are just drawing from the playoff season experience.
Coach Romeo Crennel has been there before too.
He earned five Super Bowl championship rings as an assistant coach with the New York Giants and New England Patriots.
Crennel knows the big game for the team now is Houston on Sunday.
The Texans are 5-5 - the latest they've been at .500 since the team's inception in 2002. What they don't have is the Browns' playoff-tested players.
The Browns are 6-4, in a tie with Tennessee for the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs.
As they won't play this year, the first tiebreaker is conference record, and the next tiebreaker is best record in common games (minimum of four).
The teams will have played four common opponents by season's end - Houston, Oakland, Cincinnati and the New York Jets.
The Titans have defeated Houston once, with one left to play. They also have upcoming games against the other three.
The Browns are 1-1 against Cincinnati and Oakland, with another Cincinnati game and the Jets left to play.
This game against Houston is important not only because it is an AFC opponent, but also a common opponent with Tennessee.
McGinest knows it's a competitive league, but he isn't quieting talk of the playoffs because he doesn't have faith in his own team.
Even the good teams don't talk playoffs this early, McGinest said, pointing to New England. The leaders of the Patriots won't concede playoffs, let alone an unbeaten season.
"I think this team has matured," he said. "This team has taken a huge step toward getting better, playing together, playing with all different phases complementing each other."
Still though, "let's get there first, and then we can talk about it all day long," McGinest said.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.