Between the recent NFL draft and the schedule release Cleveland Browns fans have had a lot to speculate about. To top that off the news broke Friday night that the Browns made another big trade for edge rusher Za’Darius Smith from the Minnesota Vikings. Smith is one of the best defensive players in recent years and gives Cleveland another important weapon on defense.
So, it’s Christmas here in Cleveland as fans continue to ponder the great possibilities ahead. However, as fans we also know that reality will soon strike, when the season kicks off, but before then let’s look more specifically at the schedule that the Browns have been given.
This schedule could be very good for the team, or it could go south quickly so with that, let’s dive into the uniqueness of this group of games for the season.
Cincy from start to finish
The Browns open the season with a home game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Cleveland has had good luck against the Bengals over the last several seasons. Despite the Bengals having been a Super Bowl contender the last two years, Cleveland has usually had their number.
The Browns did lose to the Bengals once last year on the road but won their home game last Halloween in a big way. So, this leads us to question how the Browns will respond in this Week 1 matchup. We know that Browns teams usually struggle out of the gate and have rarely won a home opener. They did win against the Carolina Panthers on the road in their Week 1 game a year ago so that’s a good first step.
With divisional rivals Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens coming soon after the Bengals game, it’s important that Cleveland can get off to a good start against them and get a win.
The Browns then finish the season on the road against the Bengals in Week 18. Who knows where this season will go, but it could be a very meaningful game for both squads for various reasons as well.
The divisional games front and center
After the Browns play the Bengals in Week 1, they have a Week 2 Monday Night Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road. Cleveland hasn’t had much luck playing in Pittsburgh over the years. However, they did get an important playoff win back in 2020 against them that caught everyone’s attention.
After Week 3 home game against the Tennessee Titans, they play the Baltimore Ravens in another home contest. So, it will be imperative that Cleveland get off to a good start in the first four weeks, especially against their division opponents. If they fail, it could mean big problems for the rest of the season but if they succeed the team is in excellent shape moving forward.
West coast trip
The Browns have a two-game swing to the West Coast this season that includes a game first against the Denver Broncos and then to California to play the Los Angeles Rams. It’s likely that the team will stay out west between these games.
Prior to that West Coast trip in late November, the team does make a long journey out to Seattle in late October. The Browns have only made a trip out to Seattle three times in the last 30 years. That stat alone is pretty mind blowing. Cleveland hasn’t had much luck when they travel to the Pacific Northwest as they’ve lost all three games in that span dating back to 1993.
The last time they played out there was in 2015 when they lost 30-13. It was a matchup of Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel going up against Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. It was a lousy game for Manziel as he had a fumble and interception.
A weird Thursday Night Game against New York Jets
In a game scheduled for December 28th, the Browns and the New York Jets battle it out on a Thursday Night Game in Week 17. It could be Deshaun Watson against Aaron Rodgers, but it could also be a couple of backups playing against one another depending on if everyone can stay healthy.
Why the NFL would schedule a game that late in the season on a Thursday night is likely only about money. Browns fans will come out and support their team in likely bitterly cold weather but besides that it’s really a dumb place to have the NFL’s two inaugural Monday Night Football participates play this season. There could be postseason implications for both teams at this stage in the season but giving both teams only four days to prepare isn’t good business.
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