The day all NFL fans have been waiting for (this week) finally happened and the official schedules are known. Now every fan can play the schedule game. I don’t because a lot can happen between now and September 10. The one thing I do know you can look at the Browns schedule and make a few assertions and opinions. So here goes.
The first four games could be brutal or could be beneficial. Yes, playing three divisional opponents (Bengals, Steelers & Ravens) in the first four games could send the team on a losing spiral. It also could send them to a divisional title. Win those divisional games and the Browns could control the AFC North. The early bye week is also brutal, but in the first seven weeks the Browns play four home games, (Bengals, Titans, Ravens & 49ers), have a bye week and their longest road trips are to Pittsburg and Indianapolis (135 miles collectively). The other good thing about the first four games is that the coaching staff should be able to get the players’ attention and have them ready for week one. If Joe Woods was still the defensive coordinator, I would be worried. Last year at the start, the offense was good, it was the defense and the special teams that ruined the early part of the season. New coordinators Jim Schwartz and Bubba Ventrone will have their players ready.
Weeks eight and nine are against teams the Browns should beat. Arizona might be playing for the first overall pick. As for Seattle, that’s a hard one to predict. The Browns have sent better teams to Seattle and got the head handed to them. Weeks 10 thru 13 are a very hard stretch. Three road games (Ravens, Broncos & Rams) and one home game against the Steelers. The Browns will probably stay on the west coast after the Denver game, which would be smart.
Weeks 14 thru 18 feature three home games (Jaguars, Bears & Jets) and two road games (Texans & the season finale against the Bengals). The times and days for the Bears and the Bengals games are to be determined. The only oddity in this stretch is a Thursday night game after a road game in Houston. The team will only have four days to get ready for Aaron Rogers and the Jets. Thanks, NFL.
ESPN says it’s the seventh easiest schedule based on opponents’ win percentage in 2022. They play nine teams with a winning record in 2022 but have games against five teams with five or fewer wins last year. The Browns might face three rookie quarterbacks, (Colts-Anthony Richardson, Houston-C.J. Stroud & Tennessee-Will Levis). They’ll also go against three rookie head coaches, (Jonathan Gannon, Arizona, DeMeco Ryans, Houston & Shane Steichen, Indy). On paper, the schedule looks pretty good, but like I always say, the movie Ishtar looked good on paper, and it was a box office dud. With this schedule, the Browns have an opportunity to win the AFC North and make the playoffs. They just need to be ready to play, game one. My record prediction, 1-0.