Week 17: Jan. 3 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Some will question the Browns beating the Steelers twice in one season, but the schedule will help the Browns with this substantially in 2020. After sneaking away from Pittsburgh with a win in Week 6, the Browns will be motivated more than ever in week 17 with a playoff birth and division title on the line. Mayfield will prove he is the future quarterback and Myles Garrett will continue to dominate at the line of scrimmage.
Final record: 10-6
There’s a chance the Ravens will also finish 5-1 in the division, but it’s more likely the Steelers or Bengals take them down at some point and a week 17 Browns win would be for an outright AFC North title. With a regular-season 10-6 record, the Browns would likely not receive a bye but would be in the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season.
Some may say this is an overly optimistic projection but look for Kevin Stefanski to make his mark quickly with a loaded roster on both sides of the ball. If the Browns stay healthy, they can compete with anyone. While the Kansas City Chiefs are the sure-fire favorite to come out of the AFC, the Browns CAN make, and WIN, a playoff game for the first time since the 1994 Wild Card game vs. the New England Patriots.
The Browns getting off to a strong start is crucial for 2020 and they must beat the Bengals and the Redskins in weeks two and three. There may be some growing pains with a completely new staff, but it’s imperative the Browns get off to a strong start quickly.