You can tell the NFL season is just around the corner because the Cleveland Browns have themselves a new head coach.
The Kevin Stefanski era officially kicks off Sunday when the Browns travel to M&T Bank Stadium to face their AFC North Division rivals the Baltimore Ravens. Cleveland fans can only hope that the birth of the Stefanski run rolls out the barrel more effectively than last year’s launch of the ill-fated Freddie Kitchens era.
Last season, the Browns quickly found themselves in the barrel en route to a dismal 6-10 campaign, blasted 43-13 at home by the Tennessee Titans.
It was the 15th straight year that Cleveland found itself without a crooked number in the win column. The Browns are 0-14-1 in their last 15 season openers.
Going to Baltimore, where the Ravens posted an NFL-best 14-2 record, might not seem to be the best way to bring that skid to a halt, an opinion that’s shared by some of the best gambling sites for the NFL season. Baltimore is listed as a 7.5-point favorite to defeat Cleveland.
Perhaps it’s easy to forget that Cleveland was one of the two teams to win a regular-season game from the Ravens last year. The Browns crushed the Ravens 40-25 in Week 4 at M&T Bank Stadium.
Another Baltimore note to keep in mind – the last time Cleveland won a season opener was in 2004. The Browns whipped the Ravens 20-3 as Cleveland quarterback Jeff Garcia ran for one touchdown and passed for another.
This is the first time since that 2004 victory that Cleveland will face the Ravens in a season opener.
Let’s look back at the 15 times the Browns lined up for a season opener and ended up licking their wounds.
2019: Tennessee 43 Cleveland 13
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was picked off three times and sacked five times.
2018: Pittsburgh 21 Cleveland 21
Victory was there for the Browns, but kicker Zane Gonzalez saw his 43-yard attempt blocked by Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt with nine seconds left in overtime.
2017: Pittsburgh 21 Cleveland 18
Jesse James caught two TD passes from Ben Roethlisberger to finish off the Browns.
2016: Philadelphia 29 Cleveland 10
In his NFL debut, Eagles QB Carson Wentz passed for two TDs and 278 yards.
2015: New York Jets 31 Cleveland 10
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for two TDs and Chris Ivory ran for two more as the Jets dismantled the Browns.
2014: Pittsburgh 30 Cleveland 27
The Steelers blew a 27-3 lead but still got the victory when Shaun Suisham booted a 33-yard field goal with 47 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
2013: Miami 23 Cleveland 10
The Dolphins clung to a tight 13-10 advantage entering the fourth quarter. Miami broke open the game thanks to a one-yard TD run by Daniel Thomas and 36-yard field goal from Caleb Sturgis.
2012: Philadelphia 17 Cleveland 16
The Eagles led 10-3 but then the Browns scored 13 unanswered points, taking a 16-10 fourth-quarter lead when D’Qwell Jackson ran for a 13-yard touchdown. Eagles QB Michael Vick connected with Clay Harbor for a four-yard TD pass and Philly squeaked out the victory.
2011: Cincinnati 27 Cleveland 17
The Browns carried a 17-13 lead into the fourth quarter. Bengals backup QB Bruce Gradkowski threw a 41-yard TD pass to A.J. Green and Cedric Benson ran for a score as the Bengals rallied for the win.
2010: Tampa Bay 17 Cleveland 14
Early in the fourth quarter, Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman found Micheal Spurlock on a 33-yard TD pass to erase Cleveland’s 14-10 edge on the scoreboard.
2009: Minnesota 34 Cleveland 20
The Browns led 13-10 at the half. The Vikings scored 24 second-half points, including Brett Favre’s first TD pass as Minnesota’s QB.
2008: Dallas 28 Cleveland 10
Marion Barber ran for a pair of TDs as the Cowboys raced out to a 28-3 advantage.
2007: Pittsburgh 34 Cleveland 10
Roethlisberger hooked up with four different receivers for TDs.
2006: New Orleans 19 Cleveland 14
John Carney kicked four field goals to pace the Saints to victory.
2005: Cincinnati 27 Cleveland 13
Carson Palmer passed for a pair of TDs as the Bengals won their season opener for the first time since 2001.
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