You hate to be the first person to begin thinking about what the Browns will do with their first pick in the 2013 draft, but it's become a nasty force of habit.
This is a franchise that has started six of the last 14 seasons with at least a 0-3 record. In 2009 and this season the Browns lost their first four games, and in the franchise season of 1999 they lost the first seven before needing a "Hail Mary" Tim Couch pass to defeat the New Orleans Saints.
How can you keep from peeking several months ahead to project which college star the Browns might select? In that way Browns fans are like Pavlov's dog. They are trained to talk about the draft after just a few early-season losses.
The analysts of at least one online site have the Browns selecting LSU linebacker Barkevious Mingo next year. Not with the 10th overall pick. Not with the fifth pick. They have Mingo going off the board first overall.
It's the same site that projected the Browns to go 1-15 this year. Browns coach Pat Shurmur seemed to adopt that prediction as a launching point to prove the skeptics wrong.
Through four games it can be said that the doomsayers are having their day. The Browns are winless and in need of a helping hand. If there was any money left in the government's budget they would qualify for assistance.
The time-worn comparison would be to say that the Browns are no better than they were in 1999. Some might argue that the '99 team was better because at least Kevin Johnson didn't drop passes.
The truth is that this year's team is more talented than the team of 13 years ago. Brandon Weeden throws the ball better than any quarterback in town in the expansion era. Trent Richardson is by far the best running back the Browns have had, unless you're partial to Travis Prentice.
From top to bottom the 2012 Browns are the better team, but that might not help them avoid a start similar to what happened in '99. If you can find a win in the near future - the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals are up next - then gladly drink from your half-full cup.
Maybe, just maybe, there's a possible win Oct. 14 against the Bengals. A more likely scenario would a win Oct. 21 at Indianapolis, but by then quarterback Andrew Luck might be doing his best John Elway imitation.
There's obviously something wrong, and it's more than just a demanding schedule. There were troubling signs in the locker room after the 24-14 loss to Buffalo last Sunday in the words of some disappointed players.
Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson and safety T.J. Ward weren't shy about expressing their concerns and anger. Neither appreciated seeing thousands of fans wearing Bills' jerseys and standing in unison to celebrate a win. Blue, not orange, was the fashionable color of the day.
There's no need to look deep into coach Pat Shurmur's mind to know that he's feeling the pressure of a new ownership that's about to assume control. He wears his feelings openly and shares them with comments that are often bristling.
After the loss to the Bills Shurmur said that every game is a must win. You play them and then count up the wins.
Unless that total moves off the zero mark real soon, Shurmur might not be around to add it all up in December.