Cleveland Browns: More Likely to Finish No. 4 or No. 1 in AFC North?
By Tyler Hise
Is it possible for the Cleveland Browns to take first place in the AFC North this year, or will it be another season spent in the basement looking up at the competition?
The Cleveland Browns have added a plethora of talent this off-season, including but not limited to:
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor (via Trade w/ Buffalo Bills, running back Carlos Hyde, wide recievers Jarvis Landry (via Trade w/ Miami Dolphins) and Jeff Janis, tight end Darren Fells, offensive tackles Chris Hubbard and Donald Stephenson, defensive end Chris Smith and defensive backs T.J. Carrie and Damarious Randall (via Trade w/ Packers).
With all of this newly acquired talent and five picks in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft, Browns fans are wondering just where the ceiling is for this team in 2018. So, are the Browns more likely to finish in first place or last place in the AFC North?
The answer: First.
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Now before you think “Oh this is just a biased Browns writer who is too high on the Browns’ chances”, let me tell you why this is the case.
Not only have the Browns picked up proven NFL talent in free agency and trades, but they also will have the opportunity to make a big splash in the draft. Pairing young, raw first round players with proven veterans who know what it takes to win in this league, will bring an excitement around the Browns’ locker room that hasn’t been there in years.
Cleveland will have addressed problems on both sides of the ball that will help improve our average scoring margin per game that ranked 32nd in the league last year and ultimately lead to winning more games.
Along with this, the normally prominent AFC North will have its struggles in 2018. The Cincinnati Bengals coming off of a 7-9 season and the Baltimore Ravens trying to improve on a 9-7 campaign last year, have both done very little to improve their respective rosters during free agency and trades.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, who have reigned over the AFC North in recent history, will be the Browns’ toughest divisional opponent. There is no doubt the Steelers will win games, but will locker room issues and the age of their franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger cause some bumps along the way?
Next: Browns: 2018 Preseason schedule announced
With the improvements Cleveland has made and will continue to make this offseason and the seemingly stagnant nature of the other three AFC North teams, I see it as far more likely the Browns finish atop their division rather than the bottom, where they have lived the past seven years.