Browns' playoff dreams doused with dismal loss to Cardinals

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Cleveland's 2019 season began with massive expectations.

With two games still to go, its season is all but over.

The Browns (6-8) were basically eliminated from the playoff conversation Sunday, as the Arizona Cardinals put the finishing touches on one of the NFL's biggest disappointments with an emphatic 38-24 victory at State Farm Stadium. The Browns are still mathematically alive thanks to the Pittsburgh Steelers losing to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night, but they need a lot of help. Cleveland will be eliminated in Week 16 with a loss or a Steelers win or a Titans win.

Cleveland's issues all season resurfaced in a game the Browns had to have, just to keep their faint playoff hopes alive.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield remained out of sync with wideouts Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry in critical moments.

Coach Freddie Kitchens bailed on Nick Chubb and the running game too easily, even though it was all Cleveland had working.

And Arizona rookie quarterback Kyler Murray annihilated a Browns defense, its mediocrity only overshadowed this season by the ineptitude of the Cleveland offense.

The Cardinals came into the weekend with the NFL's third-worst red zone offense. Sunday, they scored touchdowns on their first four red zone possessions, embarrassing Cleveland defensive coordinator Steve Wilks in his return to Arizona, where he was head coach last season.

Yet once again, Cleveland's underwhelming offense stole the show, with the Browns setting a dysfunctional tone on the opening drive. First, OBJ dropped a pass. Then two snaps later, Mayfield sailed a throw over Beckham in the end zone, which the Cardinals intercepted.

The ineptitude continued throughout the day, underscored by Cleveland taking a delay of game penalty on the first play after a kickoff with the Cardinals leading 14-0.

The frustration from the game -- and this entire season -- finally boiled over in the second half.

Beckham was visibly upset when Mayfield didn't see him wide open on a corner pattern on a failed third-and-7. Later in the fourth quarter, Landry had a heated exchange with Kitchens on the sidelines after the Browns decided to try a field goal instead of going for it at the Arizona 27 on fourth-and-3. Austin Seibert wound up missing the kick and the Cardinals quickly went down the field for a touchdown to put the Browns away.

For the game. And the season.

Describe the game in two words: Defensive debacle. The Cardinals churned out 299 yards of offense in the first half alone, as the Browns did their best impression of the Big 12 defenses that Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury faced while at Texas Tech.

Silver lining: Chubb has put together a phenomenal season as one of the only bright spots for the Browns this year. He rushed for 127 yards, giving him 11 games of 100 or more rushing yards in his career. That tied legend Jim Brown for the most 100-yard games by a Cleveland back in his first two seasons. Cleveland won't have many other Pro Bowlers this year, but Chubb will definitely be one.

Bold prediction for next week: Talk of Kitchens' coaching future, Beckham's 2020 destination and Mayfield's ultimate potential will consume the team this season, and for the remainder of a season that can't end fast enough.