The schedule change could usher in a new era for the Cleveland Browns
Since 1978, the National Football League has operated with a 16-game regular-season schedule. In that span, the Cleveland Browns have had the second-worst winning percentage in the league.
The NFL is set to announce the approval of a 17-game regular season starting in 2021, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The NFL is awaiting the owner’s approval to shorten the preseason to three games.
This has been reported on in the past from NBC Sport’s Mike Florio and later this week this will likely become a reality.
For the Browns, their 17th game in Week 18 (yeah, this is going to take some time to adjust to) will be at FirstEnergy Stadium against the Arizona Cardinals. Before we can take a look ahead to a 17-game regular season, we must bid farewell to the misfortunes of the Browns under a 16-game regular-season schedule.
From 1978 to present, with the exception of three years, the Browns have compiled a lowly record of 251-379-2, which is a .399 winning percentage. Only the Detroit Lions (268-410-2; .396 percent) have a worse winning percentage. Speaking of the Lions, they share history with the Browns as they are the only two teams in NFL history to have gone 0-16 in a season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also went winless in a season, but it was 0-14 two years prior to the league expanding from 14 to 16 regular-season games.
There are four teams with fewer wins, but a better winning percentage than the Browns. Those teams are the Jaguars (177), Texans (135), Panthers (220), and Ravens (225). All of those teams have played far fewer games than the Browns as the Jaguars and Panthers came into the league in 1995. The Ravens replaced the Browns in 1996 and the Texans were an expansion team in 2002.
Since returning to the NFL in 1999, Cleveland has had just three winning seasons. That’s it. From 2015 to 2017, Cleveland went 4-44. They won three games in 2015, one game in 2016, and no games in 2017. Just from 2015 to present, Tom Brady has won a Super Bowl in every odd-numbered year. He has more Super Bowls won (4) in those six seasons than the Browns have winning seasons since returning to the NFL. Unbelievable.
With the Browns heading into higher heights and ascending upward, there is plenty of hope that the Browns will have a much better record with a 17-game schedule. They have to, right?
If there is one thing to be said about everything aforementioned, is the fact that this fanbase is loyal to the soil. These fans have been chomping at the bit to have a winning football team in the city of Cleveland and it’s so close that they can taste it.
Time will ultimately tell what truly lies ahead for the Browns, but maybe, just maybe, they can have better fortune with a new 17-game schedule.