As 2004 draws to a close the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans have very different views on 2005.
The Browns, an expansion team in 1999, are 3-12 and finishing the season under interim head coach Terry Robiskie. In no uncertain terms, they are ready for the season to end, preferably with a win over the Texans Sunday at Reliant Stadium.
The Texans, who are in year three of existence, can finish 8-8 with a win over the Browns. Houston wants the season to keep going.
Given the last three weeks, who could blame them?
The defense hasn't allowed a touchdown in 11 consecutive quarters and the team has won two-straight road games in less than favorable weather conditions. One or two games back in the heart of the season and this team could be fighting for a playoff berth.
Yes, hindsight is truly 20-20.
All the Texans can hope for is a .500 record and a franchise best three-straight wins to close out 2004. And while it won't be a dream end for this season, it would start the new year off in the right direction.
"We've been at this I think about 22 weeks now," head coach Dom Capers said. "Our goal is to go out and play our best football game on Sunday. I think the last two weeks we've made improvement as a team now the challenge is can we go out, come home here in front of our home fans and finish the season off with our best game."
Problem is Cleveland is feeling much the same way.
The Browns lost on a last second field goal in Miami last week, by far the best game they have played since losing to the Bengals 58-48 Nov. 28. That was Kelly Holcomb's last game at quarterback.
Holcomb injured his ribs and gave up the starting job to rookie Luke McCown. The Browns haven't scored more than 15 points since.
But Holcomb was listed as questionable on Friday's injury report. Officially he has a 50-50 shot at playing against the Texans and has taken reps with the first team for the past two days.
Robiskie and the Browns would be thrilled to get him back. He threw for a team-record 413 yards and five touchdowns the last time he started.
"He's been in some big games for us," Robiskie said. "We'll see if we can go with a veteran guy and see if he can give us a little lift.
"It's not any knock against Luke. We just feel like Kelly is a veteran guy and we're still trying to win this football game."
Capers said the Texans have studied Holcomb and are preparing as if he is the starter. He added that the team is not taking Cleveland lightly.
He also praised his own team for its focus in the face of adversity this season. Friday was the last full-practice of the year. Now it's time to ring in the new calendar year and hope Sunday brings a win to ring in the upcoming 2005 season.
"I know that we have our best football team," Capers said. "I know that we've improved during the course of the season."