By BOB GARRETT The Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles are facing off again Sunday in a playoff game that will determine who gets to host the 2017 NFL championship.
The stakes are high.
The Browns’ first-round pick from last season, tight end Travis Benjamin, is injured and will be out for the season.
The Eagles’ second-round selection in 2017, running back Bryce Brown, is out for at least the next six weeks.
Both players are big part of the Browns’ playoff hopes.
It will be the second time in three seasons the Browns will play a playoff football game.
The first came in 2010 when they beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.
Both games were close games, but in the end, the Browns won.
The game was so close that the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field at NRG Stadium in Houston was so loud, it made the stadium unusable.
But the Browns were in the playoff hunt.
And with the Eagles still searching for their first win of the season, it was easy to forget that a win would send them to the Super Bowl.
They beat the Packers 24-21 in overtime on Nov. 6.
But in the game that night, Benjamin missed two field goals and Brown missed a third-down field goal.
The final score was 28-24.
The next day, the team’s owner, Jimmy Haslam, announced that he had decided to trade Benjamin for his fourth-round draft pick in 2017.
Haslam said that he wanted to use Benjamin to make a statement to his fans.
Hasam said that Brown was benched.
The team said at the time that it was “disappointed” that Brown had been benched, but Haslam later said that the team did not feel it was the right time to make the move.
The draft pick turned into a starter for the Browns, who had lost eight straight games heading into the bye week.
Brown has made some big plays this season.
He rushed for 123 yards on 15 carries in the Browns 27-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
Hasham said that Benjamin would be playing a “critical role” for the team this season and that Brown would be a backup, too.
Has said that this week, he and the team will address the situation of Benjamin, Brown and the draft pick.
Has also said that a decision on Brown’s future will be made later this week.
He said the team has made it clear that he has “no plans to play in the regular season.”
Benjamin said Sunday that the situation was handled well.
“We’ll go through it,” he said.
“It’s going to be a good process.”
Benjamin is one of five Browns to have scored at least 30 points in a game this season, including quarterback Josh McCown (25) and running back Duke Johnson (25).
But Benjamin is the only player to do that for the entire season, as well as the only one who has scored more than 40 points in each of the past two seasons.
“I just felt like it was time to step up and give something back to my team,” Benjamin said.
He finished the game with four catches for 77 yards.
Benjamin has been the team leader in receiving yards each of his past three seasons, which is a nice accomplishment for a player who had been a liability in the passing game.
He has caught at least four passes in five of the last six games, including the team-high five catches Sunday in the loss to the Colts.
He also had eight catches for 92 yards Sunday.
Benjamin is expected to start against the Philadelphia defense, which has allowed an average of 24.6 points per game and has allowed the second-most touchdowns (18) in the NFL.
The Birds have allowed an NFL-high 20 sacks in the past four games.
Has not won a playoff series since a 41-0 win over Cincinnati in the 2009 season.
It was the only time the Browns have won a postseason game since 2009.