The Browns have underperformed this season, there is no other way to say it. They started 2-6, with losses to the Seahawks and the Broncos being the closest games. The Browns then went on a three-game winning streak, only to fall to Pittsburgh to drop to 5-7. This leaves the Browns with just a 5.2% chance to make the playoffs (according to ESPN).
However, there is a reason to believe that next season will be different. The Browns have gone 3-1 over their last four and certainly can finish the season the same way. This would put the Browns at 8-8, their best season since 2007 and winners of six of their last eight.
The Browns will most likely pick in the 15th-20th pick range in the draft, which could be used for necessary offensive line help. The secondary will also need to be addressed, though the core team will stay the same.
Kareem Hunt will be a restricted free agent for next season, allowing the Browns to retain him by matching any offers produced by other teams. As Nick Chubb continues to improve, this would allow the Browns to have two of the top running backs in the league.
Despite the fact that the Browns have two of the best running backs in the league, the team still calls pass plays just under 150% more often than run plays (439 to 301). If the Browns want to improve next season, they are going to need to give the football to the people who are consistently performing. It’s something that Nick Chubb is doing, not Odell Beckham Jr.
The Browns passing game has been lackluster this season. One of the reasons is Rashad Higgins. After posting career highs in touchdowns and yards last season, he hasn’t been effective this year. KhaDarel Hodge has shown potential this season, though with receivers such as Robby Anderson and Tyler Boyd being free agents this offseason, the Browns may add another receiver to pair with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
Myles Garrett will most likely be returning to the Browns next season, which will be a huge addition to the defensive line. The linebacker core of Joe Schobert, Mack Wilson, Christian Kirksey and Sione Takitaki appears to be strong and has been successful this season (Kirksey on IR, though, will return next season). However, while the safety position has seen great play at times from Damarious Randall and Morgan Burnett, it has been very inconsistent. The Browns need to address that.
As the losses pile up it becomes ever less likely that Freddie Kitchens will remain a Brown, though a 6-2 finish may be enough for him to keep his job.
In the 2020 season, the Browns will face the AFC South which fields good teams, but no real powers at the moment and the NFC East, the weakest division in football, setting up possibly another weak schedule for the Browns.
The Browns will almost certainly face less national hype in 2020, which could benefit a team that will look to improve and be a playoff contender.