BEREA, Ohio (AP) -This is as good as it's been for the Cleveland Browns in a long time.
The Browns are healthy, they're 2-1 against the AFC North and they're past what was considered the toughest part of their schedule.
Sure, they have to face coach Romeo Crennel's former team, the New England Patriots, this Sunday, but at 2-2 the Browns are looking and sounding like a legitimate NFL team for the first time in years.
``The way you gain confidence is having success - by winning football games and showing you can win football games. Now, your confidence grows and your ability to make plays is enhanced because you've done it,'' Crennel said Monday.
``Hopefully, we can get to the point where we can expect to win football games all the time and not some of the time.''
Beating Cincinnati in a wild shootout, then getting ahead of Baltimore early and holding the Ravens down in a 27-13 win Sunday has squelched talk of Crennel's job security and of rookie quarterback Brady Quinn's eventual debut.
Instead, the buzz in town is that the Browns are a blocked field goal against Oakland from being tied with Pittsburgh for first place in the division.
``They should be 3-1,'' said offensive lineman Ryan Tucker, who has been limited to being a fan the last four weeks while serving a suspension for violating the NFL's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.
Tucker could be activated this week, although the Browns have until Monday to make a decision on him. The Browns may wait that long, which is another sign of progress.
The Browns aren't desperate for Tucker to return to an offensive line that has jelled with the additions of guard Eric Steinbach and rookie tackle Joe Thomas. The line hasn't allowed a sack in the Browns' two victories.
``They look good. The protection has been great,'' Tucker said. ``The offense is clicking right now.''
The fact the Browns have been winning with their offense is just as surprising as their record.
Tight end Kellen Winslow and wide receiver Braylon Edwards are playing like No. 1 draft picks and Jamal Lewis has given the Browns a running back who can pound the ball in near the goal line.
Derek Anderson has emerged as a strong-armed quarterback who has thrown for 964 yards and nine touchdowns, stats that rank him among the league leaders.
The offense has shown the ability to take over a game. Against Baltimore, the Browns opened up a 24-3 lead in the second quarter, giving the team the rare luxury of playing ahead.
The Browns are a threat to make a comeback, too. The offense nearly overcame a deficit against the Raiders, falling short only when Phil Dawson's field goal attempt with time expiring was blocked.
``This year, offensively speaking, we believe we can bounce back from anything,'' Browns center Hank Fraley said. ``Anything that goes bad, we can overcome it.''
The Browns will likely need that resilience when they travel Sunday to New England where Crennel was defensive line coach from 1993-96 and defensive coordinator from 2001-2004.
Don't look for Crennel to get all nostalgic this week about coaching against his former team for the first time.
``We could be going to Timbuktu and it would be the same thing,'' Crennel said.
After facing the Patriots, the Browns only have two other games against teams with records over .500: Seattle and Pittsburgh in Week 9s and 10.
The Browns still need to prove they can win on the road and string two victories together, but a .500 record a month into the season is a start.
``We feel that we can compete with anybody as long as we're playing our game - Cleveland Browns-type football,'' Fraley said.
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