A Very-Early Look at the 2014 Schedule: Games 1-4
It’s never too soon to examine the upcoming campaign for the Cleveland Browns. In this four-part series, we delve a little deeper into the sixteen guaranteed matchups this upcoming fall and winter. While it might be a bit premature to make predictions at this point, it’s never a bad idea to get your hopes up (there’s not really another option at this point for Browns fans).
Sunday, September 7th – @ Pittsburgh
It is not the easiest of season openers for this youthful team. However, an upset victory at Heinz Field – could be a springboard for a potentially promising 2014 season. I’m sick and tired of the Browns looking putrid and sluggish (and terrible) in their openers. Hopefully coach Pettine understands this and the Browns hit the ground
running in game one. Current odds of victory (1-10): 3
Sunday, September 14th – vs. New Orleans
Somehow the Browns won the matchup with the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints the last time these two squared off (in 2010). The Saints are much better at home and are hit-and-miss when it comes to starting off the regular season. So, while it appears that the Browns will have little shot to win it here, a W would not be surprising. However, it will all come down to how well the defense plays. Current odds of victory (1-10): 5
Sunday, September 21st – vs. Baltimore
Expect another tough, physical matchup between the Browns and Ravens; despite the fact that the visitors appear to be more reliant on their passing game. A victory will require an entire team effort but I am much more excited and hopeful for this AFC North contest than the one two weeks earlier. One big play could be the difference in this contest. Current odds of victory (1-10): 6
Sunday, September 28th – BYE Week
I was extremely disappointed when the NFL schedule was released and such an early bye was given to the Browns. Playing thirteen straight weeks after this time off appears to be daunting, but perhaps the young squad can maintain their health at a reasonable level. It’s unlikely that the team gains ground within the division while off – but that could also mean that they are beyond due for some things to go in their favor.
Sunday, October 5th – @ Tennessee
In my opinion, this is the most winnable contest during the first quarter of their schedule. Despite being on the road, the Browns should have little to fear regarding a team that has not been consistent winners for multiple years. While prior teams might be overconfident entering contests, I think this unit is much tougher mentally. Current odds of victory (1-10): 7
Conclusion: Escaping this portion relatively unscathed should be the bare minimum here. I truly believe the Browns are a vastly improved team this year and can compete with all four franchises above. Will they have a 4 – 0 record at this point? I doubt it, but I would also not be surprised if they snuck out several narrow victories.