Cleveland Browns: Season Preview

In this short story, I will take you through the Browns schedule and give you my quick thought on who the game will play out and if the Browns will be victorious or not. At the end of this piece, we will see my final season prediction on our final record. One thing to keep in mind is that I am writing this piece with the thought that Josh Gordon is with the Cleveland Browns for all 16 games, and of course, the unforeseen injuries that we have seen derail seasons.

Week 1 – vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

As was the case last season Le’Veon Bell is in the midst of a holdout which means that he could potentially and very much will use this games as a “preseason”, type tune-up game. We did a good job of holding him to under 50 total yards. If the Steelers offense struggles to get going the Browns could have a good chance at winning this game. I think the key to winning this game will be the Browns ability to run the ball and control the game. I think the Browns’ running backs and Tyrod Taylor will combine for over 150 yards rushing at two TDs. If the improved defense can force a turnover or two, which I think they will the Browns win the home opener. This will be the organizations first home opener win since 2004. Final score 24 – 18 Browns.

Week 2 – at New Orleans Saints

This will be a very tough matchup for the younger Cleveland Browns. While they may be riding a wave of excitement and confidence from their week one win, I think the Saints will be too much. The young defense will truly be tested with another one of the NFL’s top offenses. There will be a lot of pressure put on the new defensive backs and should be another great test for rookie Denzel Ward. I think the Browns will struggle to move the ball in this game and may have a big turnover over in the second half that will allow for the Saints to shut the door and put us away. This will be the first road test for the Browns as this will be the Saints second game at home and right before a two-game road trip. Final score 35-17 Saints.

Week 3 – vs. New York Jets

While the Jets did improve their pass defense, I am not sure they will be able to control the Browns running game. I think the Browns will come back home and get back to the formula that won them Week 1 against Pittsburgh. The playcalling and decision making by Tyrod Taylor should keep the Browns in the game and allow for us to control the pace of play and game. I think this is a coming out party for David Njoku as he will be able to feast in the middle of the field off the run game. The Browns will make a stand late in the 4th to hold off the Jets. The Browns will win and improve to 2-1 and win their first two home games. Final score 24-16 Browns.

Week 4 – at Oakland Raiders

I think the Raiders are still one of the better teams in the AFC West and have one of the better young quarterbacks as well. Derek Carr has the ability to throw a team on his back for a game and come out with a victory. With that said I just don’t see the older offense for the Raiders being able to score too much on this young athletic defense for the Browns. I think the run defense will be able to stop the veteran backs, Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin. While the secondary will try to keep Carr in check. This seems like a game for Jarvis Landry to take over and will us to victory with a big touchdown. Browns will pull to 2-2 at the quarter mark on their season. Final score 24-21 Browns.

Week 5 – vs. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are in clear transition at the quarterback position and they are just holding on for dear life to fight it. While Lamar Jackson may not be ready to be a full-time starter in the NFL, I think its pretty clear Joe Flacco has run out his clock as a Baltimore Raven. The Ravens will put out one of what should be the league’s best defenses and a middle of the pack offense with limited big play potential. The Browns are coming off a win against the Raiders and should keep it rolling here with the Ravens. The Browns should be able to run the ball well enough against the defense to supply enough points to squeak out a defensive battle. I think this is the game that will show the Browns now have a defense that is now ready to compete in the tough AFC North. Final score 17 – 9 Browns.

Week 6 – vs. San Diego Chargers

If there is ever a team that seems to always be the “sexy” pick to make a run, I feel like it’s always the San Diego Chargers. Well, this year I truly do think this team has enough talent to not only win their division but make that deep run in the playoffs. They have playmakers all over the field on both sides of the ball. The Browns will struggle to keep up with an experienced team led by Phillip Rivers, Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon. The defensive unit which was one of the best young units added more depth to that side of the ball this offseason and should make it tough on the Browns. I think the running game will struggle, then force the ball in Tyrod Taylor’s hands and I don’t see him keeping pace with a quarterback like Rivers. Browns lose a tough one at home. Final score 31 – 24 Chargers.

Week 7 – at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may just be getting back into their groove when the Browns roll into town. By Week 7, they will have back their starting quarterback, Jameis Winston, who will serve a four-game suspension to open the season. The offense will also be featuring a new rookie running back, Ronald Jones, who was drafted in the second round. I think by this time the Browns will have found their blueprint to success and put it to use against the Bucs. The battle will be the Browns offensive line vs the Buccaneers defensive line. I think the Browns will be able to win that battle and score enough points to beat the Buccaneers on the road. Final score 20 – 17 Browns.

Week 8 – at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers vs Browns part two – facing off in Pittsburg at the midpoint in the season. Coming into this game the Browns will be facing a Steelers team coming off their Bye Week. This game will feature a fully-equipped Steelers offense with game-conditioned Le’Veon Bell. Any time you have the 3B’s on the field and healthy, it will make for a long afternoon for a defense. The Browns should have enough to make the game competitive but the extra week of rest and prep should lead to the difference and allow the Steelers to win this one handily. They should have enough on the defensive side to keep Landry and the rest of the receivers in check. Final score 31- 17 Steelers.

Week 9 – vs Kansas City Chiefs

This is one of the games I am most excited about. John Dorsey’s former team the Kansas City Chiefs come to Cleveland. The Chiefs are being looked at as one of the most prolific offenses with Travis Kelce, Tyreke Hill, Kareem Hunt and Sammy Watkins – and rightfully so. The question will be the development of 2nd-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes. If it’s a seamless transition from Alex Smith that will be dangerous. I am of the belief that it will and the offense will live up to the hype. I don’t think the Browns have enough weapons on offense to keep up with the Chiefs and lose this game. They will feed Hunt late and ride him to a victory. Final score 29 – 13 Chiefs.

Week 10 – vs Atlanta Falcons

The Browns see another NFC South opponent that was one game away from their second-straight NFC Championship game. Needless to say, the Atlanta Falcons have been one of the NFL’s best teams over the past two season. They are very balanced and boast one of the most lethal passing and running games with all-pros at quarterback, running back and receiver. The Browns will be coming off two losses and I think the Falcons will hand them their third in a row. I think the talent gap will prove to be too much and again it will fall on the offense not being able to keep pace in a shootout with Tyrod leading the way. Final score 22 – 10 Falcons.

Week 11 – Bye Week

The Browns will be heading into the Bye Week at a very nice 5-5 record. This should be more than acceptable for the Browns fan base. The Browns will face a tough stretch in the three weeks leading up to the bye week with legit playoff contenders. The back half of the schedule is highlighted by the two matchups against the Cincinnati Bengals and Ravens leaving opportunity for the Browns to make a move in the division late in the season. If the Browns can enter the Bye Week with a 5-5 record they will have an opportunity to fight for a shot at the Wild Card. The challenging part for the Browns is that of the last six games, four of them are on the road. For a young team competing for a potential wild-card spot that could be a lot of pressure.

Week 12 – at Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals have found a way to make some easy work here with the Browns since Hue Jackson has made the move. I think the major difference in this matchup with being the difference is the play callers. I think that Todd Haley will be able to use his knowledge from all the classic matchups he coached in against the Bengals while with the Steelers. The will be just enough with the Bye Week for the Browns to be in this game. I think with the Bye Week there will be a lot of chatter that Baker Mayfield should see playing time and see if he can get us to the playoffs. I think Tyrod Taylor winning this game will be enough to hold off those calls, as the fight for the playoffs will still be alive and Browns win an AFC North brawl. Final score 16 – 10 Browns.

Week 13 – at Houston Texans

Last season the Browns got served up with a hard dose of reality when we had to watch another quarterback they passed on to make them look bad. The Texans, with Deshaun Watson fully healthy, have one of the most dynamic offenses because of the threat that Watson can pose with his legs. The defense seems to always catch an injury that derails the season on that side of the ball. I think if healthy they will have enough on the offensive side of the ball to control the game and secure a win at home. This is a fairly easy stretch for the Texans in their schedule and should be playing good ball. Browns will lose another one to Watson but should be able to keep it fairly close. Final score 20- 10 Texans.

Week 14 – vs Carolina Panthers

The Browns come back home to catch the Carolina Panthers who will be ending a stretch of four out of five games on the road. The Browns will still be riding the race for the wild card spot as they are holding on at 6-6. The Panthers last year made a playoff appearance and would be hard-pressed to believe that they are not going to fight for a ticket to the dance again this season. They added CJ Anderson to the backfield to help Christian McCaffery and Cam Newton in the running game. This is the unit they will rely on to hold off the Browns and control the pace of the game and lean on the defense to close it out. Browns win a tough one at home Final score 24 – 13 Panthers.

Week 15 – at Denver Broncos (NFL NETWORK FLEX GAME)

The Browns will travel to Denver for a nationally televised game against the Broncos. This will be one of the flex Saturday games and will be aired on the NFL Network. The Broncos added to the defense and addressed the quarterback position this offseason. Case Keenum proved last year that he can lead a team deep if he has the right pieces around him. I think the Broncos have enough weapons on offense to stay in this game. Being in Denver will be tough this late in the season on a short week for the Browns. They will fall to the Broncos in a heartbreaker. Final score 24 – 21 Broncos.

Week 16 – vs Cincinnati Bengals

This seems like the series that is going to see each team win a game. This will be the last home game for the Browns and I think this is the time in the season that we will see Baker Mayfield. The Browns at this point will be 6-8 and on the outside looking in at the wild card if they aren’t already eliminated. This game should be a fun and exciting game as the Browns hand the keys over to Mayfield. While there will be some ups and downs, I think a late drive stalls Mayfield from leading the Browns to a come-from-behind victory. The Browns lose Mayfield’s first start and final home game. However, the fans will be excited because the future will look bright with Baker. Final score 31 – 28 Bengals.

Week 17 at Baltimore Ravens

This is the final game of the season and what a season it would have been. The biggest question going into this game will be – did Hue do enough? Are this team’s six wins enough to keep GM John Dorsey happy and will he see enough growth from the team to keep Hue or could this be his last game? This will be Baker Mayfield’s second start and I believe we will see improvements but as mentioned before, this is one of the NFL’s best defenses and show cause a turnover or two. If the Ravens are fighting for the playoffs we will for sure see Joe Flacco. I think they will be and I think that will allow for them to win and send the Browns into the offseason with a loss. If the Ravens start to stall at all this season and their season is decided we could see a Baker Mayfield vs. Lamar Jackson match up. If this is the case, I would see the Browns winning that game. But with Flacco still under center, the Browns lose. Final score 27 – 13 Ravens.

FINAL RECORD: 6 – 10

If the Browns are able to win six games, I think the organization and fan base should be very happy with the progress. There is a lot of excitement behind this team and there certainly should be. We have a competent and talented quarterback room with playmakers at every position. The defense is young but talented and athletic. It should be fun to see how Greg Williams will play Jabrill Peppers now that there is a true safety he feels comfortable with. Everyone wants more and would love to see this team in the playoffs and I’m not so sure it can’t happen. Just the way I see it, the Browns’ backend of the schedule does them no favors with the level of competition along with the road games. The final two games should be fun as we will get to see the should be franchise quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Images: ESPN

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