After a miserable 1-15 campaign in 2016, the Browns are hoping to show signs of progress in their new rebuild. This starts a series where I will break down the Browns’ schedule by each four-game “quarter”. These are my predictions as of right now. Of course, things tend to change a lot week-to-week during the NFL season.
Game 1: Pittsburgh at Cleveland
I would love, LOVE to tell you that the Browns’ 12-game losing streak in season openers was coming to an end this year. However, the kind people in the NFL’s scheduling department saw it fit to give the Browns an opening date with the defending AFC North champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
And while I believe the Browns got better in the offseason, I don’t think they’re close enough in their rebuilding process yet to be able to hang with a Super Bowl-caliber team like the Steelers. Sorry, guys but the streak will run to lucky-number 13.
Prediction: Steelers 28, Browns 10. Record: 0-1.
Game 2: Cleveland at Baltimore
Out of the frying pan and onto a hot plate. The Ravens certainly aren’t the team they were even a couple of years ago. There are now significant holes in their roster, including at the wide receiver position.
However, they do have a pretty good defense and a franchise quarterback in Joe Flacco. Advantage: Ravens, unfortunately.
Prediction: Ravens 20, Browns 16. Record: 0-2.
Game 3: Cleveland at Indianapolis
The Colts are a tough team to figure out. Just when you think they’re on the rise and ready to make a championship run, they falter like they did last season. Even with Andrew Luck at the helm, this is a franchise that is losing its direction.
This is the first really evenly-matched game for the Browns. If the defense can force some Luck turnovers, they could be in business here.
Prediction: Browns 31, Colts 28. Record: 1-2.
Week 4: Cincinnati at Cleveland
The Bengals are a mess. They certainly are trending downward while the Browns are trending upward. They still have Dalton and A.J. Green so they’re certainly not pushovers still. However, I think the gap has been narrowed between the two teams. I can certainly see the Browns stealing one against their intra-state rivals.
Prediction: Browns 17, Bengals 14. Record: 2-2.