The 2021 schedule for the Cleveland Browns doesn’t look the way it should considering this team made the playoffs last year and even won a postseason game
The 2021 Cleveland Browns schedule has been out for a while, but it’s still fun to analyze it and critique it. The way it lines up, it doesn’t scream “this team was a playoff team last season!”
Instead, the schedule says “This was a middle-of-the-road team that didn’t really do anything last season.” This doesn’t make sense because the Browns not only made the playoffs, but they eliminated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wildcard, and then they pushed the Kansas City Chiefs to the bitter end in the AFC Divisional round.
This year, the Browns will have a third-place schedule due to them finishing with a record of 11-5 (the Baltimore Ravens finished with the same record, but they won both games between the two teams, so they won the tiebreaker). As a result of the Browns getting a third-place schedule, they’ll host the Houston Texans from the AFC South and they’ll visit the New England Patriots from the AFC East.
Cleveland will also face the AFC West and the NFC North and of course their three divisional rivals.
The biggest gripe I have with the schedule has to do with the games against our biggest AFC North rivals, the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers. In Week 12, the Browns will visit M&T Bank Stadium for a Sunday Night Football showdown with the Ravens. However, when the Browns host the Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium in Week 14, that’s a 1:00 game.
When the Browns host the Steelers on Halloween in Week 8 that’s a 1:00 game, however; when the Browns travel to Heinz Field in Week 17, that’s a Monday Night Football game! Why are the away games against the Ravens and Steelers are in primetime but our home games against them are 1:00 games?
That just doesn’t make sense, especially because the Browns were destroyed 38-6 in Baltimore and 38-7 in Pittsburgh; whereas, the Browns defeated the Steelers 24-22 in Week 17 in Cleveland and the Ravens narrowly edged out the Browns 47-42 on MNF in Week 14.
Furthermore, the lone home primetime game for the Browns is on Thursday Night Football against the Denver Broncos. Now, Browns fans don’t like the Broncos due to “The Drive” and “The Fumble” so it makes sense why Denver at Cleveland is in primetime.
However, it should not be a Thursday Night Football game. Mostly because the NFL should just get of Thursday Night Football altogether. Playing on Thursday doesn’t allow teams to fully prepare for their next opponent. Also having a shortened week means that a player’s body can’t fully recover since they just played on Sunday.
A monkey wrench was thrown into the schedule because the league pulled the lever on making the season 18 weeks and adding a 17th game. As a result, Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals will be visiting FirstEnergy Stadium in Week 6 (which is the week before the TNF game against Denver). The last time these two teams played each other was in Week 15 of the 2019 season out in the desert.
Arizona got the win 38-24, but it was still a battle of former Heisman Trophy winners from Oklahoma University as Baker Mayfield faced Kyler Murray. Both these teams are poised to make some noise in their respective conferences this season, so this game should’ve been on Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football.
Most of their games this season are at 1:00 and they’re only going to be in primetime three times as of right now. However, that could change if the league decides to flex one of their games into primetime. That’s what happened last season when the Browns at New York Giants got flexed into SNF. Overall this schedule doesn’t show that the Browns were a playoff team last season.