Although the 2020 NFL schedule release simply doesn’t carry the hype that it did a year ago, it still satisfies fans’ thirst for any sports activity in the coronavirus desert. After last season, it would be unwise to make bold predictions. However, there are some big takeaways from the 2020 schedule release:
- The start of the season is no cake walk- Every week is a challenge in the NFL, but the league dealt the Browns a particularly difficult hand over the first five weeks. For starters, snapping their 15-year opening game losing streak will be extremely difficult, as they’ll travel out to Baltimore on September 13. Expect the Ravens to bring their best, seeing as they got embarrassed by the Browns in week four of the 2019 season at home. The good news is that Kevin Stefanski’s team will be able to quickly forget about an opening day loss, as the home opener at FirstEnergy Stadium will take place four days later vs. Cincinnati, followed by a home match up with the Redskins. This sets up for Cleveland to be 2-1 heading into week 4 at Jerry’s World. It is surprising that this one didn’t make a prime time slot, but that’s an exciting game for Browns fans to look forward to.
- The Browns will face all of their division rivals in the season’s first half- This differs from previous years, where division games were mainly stacked towards the season’s finish. The encouraging part about this is that Baltimore and Pittsburgh have proven to be better at the end of the year. Stefanski will have a chance to get on solid ground with division opponents early.
- The second half will be fun to watch- Following the bye week, fans will be treated to tough opponents like the Texans and Eagles coming to the Dawg Pound. One of the games to look forward to lies in week thirteen, when the Browns should be seeking revenge against the Titans down in Nashville. They’ll next play their second and last prime time game vs. Baltimore, before staying in the Big Apple for two straight weeks as they take on the Giants and Jets back-to-back. Finally, the obligatory week seventeen conclusion with the Steelers, in what could be a game with playoff implications.
- The expectations this year: prove it- It’s a good thing that a new head coach won’t have to deal with prime time football during the first three weeks of the season. QB Baker Mayfield has to prove he is the franchise quarterback many speak of him as. Stefanski has to prove he can manage an entire operation. Overall, this schedule looks tougher than last year’s. Teams like the Dolphins and Cardinals have been replaced by the Texans and Eagles. Road games at Tennessee and Dallas will test the strength of this team. 9-7 looks likely, factoring in the vast improvement in Mayfield’s offensive line, and the high probability that Mayfield bounces back from a rough 2019. Nevertheless, the NFL season will hopefully actually get underway on time, and be grateful that the Browns will sport professional uniforms again, like they should. Football can’t get here soon enough!