The Cleveland Browns have been busy since the Super Bowl.
- ESPN tried to trade Odell Beckham, Jr. Check.
- Free agency. Nailed it. Check.
- NFL draft. Nailed it again. Check.
- ESPN tried to trade Baker Mayfield. Check.
Next up on the NFL calendar is the much-anticipated schedule release on Wednesday, May 12. The Browns’ home and away opponents have been known for a while, but “the when” will finally be disclosed Wednesday night. How a schedule is set has a lot to do in determining the final record of a team. Who are they playing in the opener? Is the opener a home or away game? When is the bye week? The NFL waits 36 hours prior to the release date to finalize the schedule. Here are the Browns’ opponents for 2021, besides Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati:
HOME: Houston, Denver, Las Vegas, Chicago, Detroit and Arizona.
AWAY: New England, Kansas City, L.A. Chargers, Green Bay and Minnesota.
Over the years, the NFL has not been kind to the Browns in their opening game. Last year, they opened at Baltimore, a tough place for a team to win with a new coaching staff. Since 1999, the Browns are 1-20-1 in openers. To win the division, the Browns need to change this statistic. It would be nice if the Browns opened at home against Houston, Denver or Detroit. However, I have no faith the league will accommodate that wish. The Browns should be favored in every home game this year.
The schedule for the away opponents is a little complicated. As I mentioned earlier, the league waits 36 hours prior to the release to finalize the schedule. Currently, the NFL is awaiting word on a decision concerning the fate of Packers QB Aaron Rogers. The Packers with Rogers are a different team than without. As for the Browns away opponents, besides the Packers, at the Patriots, at the Chargers and at the Chiefs look like tough games. On a positive note, the Browns only have to travel to the west coast one time.
Besides being 1-20-1 in opening games, the Browns have never beaten a team coached by Andy Reid or John Gruden. This year, the Browns play both. Playing and beating the Raiders the first game would be a nice way to start the season. Beating the Chiefs will be a tall task, but if the Browns can catch them at the right time, it’s possible. Hopefully, the Browns will play the Patriots early. Playing in New England in December would be a challenge. Last year, the Browns’ bye week fell in the middle of the season, week nine. I’m hoping for a bye week this year between week seven and week ten. Looking at the Browns’ opponents, there could be as many as three prime-time games and four afternoon games; two possibly being national games.
The goals for the 2021 Cleveland Browns are to win the AFC North and to advance as far as possible in the NFL playoffs. Making it to the Super Bowl is the objective of every team and the Browns, on paper, have the roster to possibly achieve that goal. All of that will be determined by their schedule.