Cleveland Browns: Is it too early to look ahead to 2023 NFL season?

David Njoku. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
David Njoku. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2022 NFL season doesn’t kick off until Thursday, September 8, 2022, when the Buffalo Bills travel to Los Angeles, California, to take on the defending Super Bowl 56 champion Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium (the same stadium where the Rams won Super Bowl 56).

Being that the 2022 season hasn’t kicked off yet, one would think it’s too early to be looking ahead to the 2023 season (which will culminate with Super Bowl 58 on Sunday, February 11, 2024, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada). Given the uncertainty, complexity, and confusion of the Deshaun Watson situation though, it might not be too early to be looking ahead to 2023.

Now, don’t get it twisted. By no means should the Cleveland Browns mail in the 2022 season. That’s why they play 17 games in a season.

More likely than not, Watson is not going to play for a large portion of the year. He might not play at all this season for that matter. Either way, it means that when the Cleveland Browns go down to Charlotte, North Carolina, to play the Carolina Panthers at Bank Of America Stadium in Week 1 on September 11, 2022, Jacoby Brissett will be the starting quarterback.

Although Watson and Brissett have different skill sets, they do have similar playing styles. Hence why Brissett was brought in to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Watson. Despite Brissett being a backup quarterback, the Browns have a golden opportunity to start this season 4-0 before hosting the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 5.

If the Browns and Watson didn’t have this situation hanging over their heads like a big storm cloud, they could finish with a record of 11-6. A record of 11-6 would be good enough for the Browns to win the AFC North and perhaps host a playoff game against a team such as the Miami Dolphins.

However, Watson and the Browns do have this situation hanging over their head. As a result, I’ve got them going 9-8. A record of 9-8 means that they miss the playoffs and finish in third place behind their biggest divisional rival, the Baltimore Ravens, and their in-state rival, the Cincinnati Bengals (who will win their second consecutive division title).

So with all of that being said, perhaps we should start looking ahead to the 2023 season. Deshaun Watson won’t have to worry about whether or not he’s going to be suspended, because hopefully that situation will be taken care of by the end of this season. Also, we won’t have to worry about this whole Baker Mayfield sage because he’s not going to be in Cleveland by the end of the season. Mayfield will likely be a Seattle Seahawk by the end of the season.

Speaking of the Seattle Seahawks, the Browns will be traveling to the pacific northwest next season. That means when I go to do my video collaborations next year, I’ll be working with NorbCam as he’s a diehard Seahawks fan. It will be the second time I do a video collaboration with NorbCam as I worked with him when the Browns hosted the Seahawks in Week 6 of the 2019 season.

In fact, the Browns will be playing everyone in the NFC West. That means they’ll also be traveling to Los Angeles to take on the Rams (who have a great chance at going back-to-back). The San Francisco 49ers will be invading the Dawg Pound and so will Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals.

In 2023, the AFC North will be going against the AFC South. For the Browns, that means they’ll host Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans as well as Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Meanwhile, they’ll visit Deshaun’s old team, the Houston Texans, and they’ll head to the heart of America to go against Jonathan Taylor and the Indianapolis Colts (who should be in the AFC North with the Browns).

To round out the 2023 schedule, Cleveland will host an AFC East team as well as an NFC North team. They’ll also visit an AFC West team. These games will be determined by where the Browns finish in the standings during the 2022 season.

Of course, the Browns will also have their divisional games against the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Next. Browns announce training camp dates for 2022. dark

Let me reiterate that by no means am I suggesting that Cleveland should just mail in the 2022 season. It’s just that with all the craziness and uncertainty surrounding the upcoming season, it might be better to have expectations for the Browns in 2023 rather than 2022.