Upon further review: Cleveland Browns schedule and storylines will keep fans engaged
I’ll be the first to admit it, like many of you have already done a dozen times, that I too have glanced through the upcoming Cleveland Browns schedule, trying to figure out wins and losses. Browns fans are so used to doing this annually, that they aren’t accustomed to coming off a very successful previous season, where the Browns went 11-5 and made the playoffs, and just have the season play out.
If you’ve listened to the Browns players and especially Browns coach Kevin Stefanski last season, you should already know that they are trying to win the week ahead of them when the season gets started in September. It’s May folks — the predicting records is fun, but we are four months from actually playing the games.
I do find a few things interesting about the Browns upcoming schedule, like the fact they’ll open their season in Kansas City against the Chiefs, the same team that they finished their season against. I’m sure Intriguing storylines will be written over the next many months as we build up to that season opener.
But many of these worries’ fans have right now, like “Oh no, the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers have five games in primetime and the Browns only have three, or maybe four if you count the game that the Browns play the Green Bay Packers on Christmas Day,” argument is just being silly.
Speaking of the Green Bay matchup later in the season. I know it’s not the annual Thanksgiving Day football game that some fans were hoping for, but for many, it’ll likely have more of an implication on the playoff picture, at that point in the season, and certainly be a Christmas gift for Browns fans across the globe.
Just picture it, the Browns, in the playoff hunt, travel northward, needing another “must-win” and there’s a howling northerly wind with those snow squalls on a crisp cold night on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.
Legends have been made there and you can just see Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield throwing a fading pass to the back of the end zone pylon to Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry to help the Browns pull off the “Christmas Miracle”.
With the addition of the extra 17th game this season, the AFC teams have nine home games. For the Browns that means a stretch of three games in a row at First Energy Stadium, playing the likes of the Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, and Pittsburgh Steelers between Weeks 6 and 8 of the season.
I believe this will be an important stretch for the Browns. That first four or five games of the year, the Browns will probably get an extra amount of attention, positive or negative from the local and national media hounds. As fans, especially of our Browns, we tend to slightly overreact.
Coming off the season Cleveland just had, this team will be even more scrutinized by many with a win or a loss here or there. But how the Browns will settle into the season especially during that mid-October to mid-November time frame will be critical to the season’s overall outcome.
If they struggle a bit getting out of the gates, not to worry, because they will have that three-game home stretch. That stretch is followed by away games at Cincinnati and New England, but then another home game against the usually cowardly Detroit Lions.
Last season, do you remember that there were some Browns fans doubters in the crowd, after a mid-October whipping by the Steelers in Pittsburgh?
And then the Browns traveled down to Cincinnati the following week, where, at the start of the game, Brown’s quarterback Baker Mayfield threw an early interception on that nightmarish play, where Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was injured for the season. “Oh Whoa’s Me! But from that moment forward Mayfield was pinpoint accurate and threw 22 straight completions and demonstrated, to the fans and critics alike, that the Browns were here to stay and would then help march them into the playoffs.
The end of this season has an interesting twist to it, that will certainly hold both Browns and Ravens fans hostage, as the teams will battle it out twice, a home and away series over Week 12 and 14. The Browns get a bye in Week 13. The Ravens on the other hand get to travel to Pittsburgh, another tough divisional opponent, during that same week. Will the Steelers be any good this year? I doubt it, but that’s for another story.
With Browns coach Stefanski getting to focus on a Ravens team for three straight weeks, my money is on Stefanski. He has certainly demonstrated last season he was a quick study.
Exhibit A is again against the Ravens from last year. Though Cleveland lost both games, the outlook on the future of the franchise was certainly cemented in stone, with that wild and crazy Monday Night Game that went down to the last seconds.
With the first game, Stefanski and the Browns looked lost and not motivated. Between that humbling experience and that later Monday Night matchup last December, Stefanski was able to meticulously build a culture of winning. Not an easy task considering the previous 20 years for this Browns franchise.
So much more for us diehard fans to analyze for this Browns schedule, but in the end, the Browns and their coaches aren’t worrying or analyzing their opponent for week 9 or 12 or any other week ahead of them, for that matter. They’ll leave that for us fans, this month of May to fret over, four months from kickoff.
They have other more pressing issues ahead of them in preparing for the season and I bet they’ll only be focused on the week ahead of them. It’s what’s helped this team grow into this new winning culture and it’ll be a mindset that will carry them to a Super Bowl soon.