Las Vegas and the Cleveland Browns
For the second year in a row, the Browns enter the regular season with the highest probability of winning six-and-a-half games during the 2015. Obviously, as many recall the team surpassed that total en route to a seven win campaign last fall. Could the team make a repeat performance, can they be head and shoulders better than that win total, or will they fall back to only winning a handful of games? Now that the draft is finalized, we will have a better picture of the team – despite multiple variables that will happen from now until September. But let’s give it a good guess anyways:
Is going 3 – 3 within the division too much to ask for the orange and brown? While it has been a few years (eight to be exact) since the team has not had a losing record in the AFC North, the time is now to break that streak.
The Monday Night home contest against the Ravens is definitely a winnable contest – I would not be surprised to see the Browns come out and go all-out for their home crowd. The matchups against the Bengals and Steelers at First Energy Stadium occur in weeks thirteen and seventeen, respectively. I fail this to be a lost season, where the team mails it in the final month of the campaign. Why can’t the team at least split those two matchups?
Winning in Baltimore is a tall order, but not an impossible task. Hopefully the team can steal an early win at the venue, as it is much needed. The Browns face the Bengals on a Thursday night again, then the Steelers the following Sunday. I will be interested to see how the team handles this stretch; I am hoping for success.
NFC West Foes
The Browns head to St. Louis then go home to face the Cardinals in the middle of the season. In weeks fourteen and fifteen, the club hosts the 49ers and then ships out to Seattle. Several months ago, this portion of the schedule appeared to be extremely daunting. However, the mess in the bay area (with Harbaugh resigning, and several retirements by starting defenders) and the inconsistencies between the Rams and Cardinals gives me hope. I anticipate to witness at least a pair of victories for the Browns here.
AFC West Opponents
In the early games of the campaign, the team faces the Raiders and Broncos at home and travel to San Diego. Getting out of this portion with a winning record will be rather difficult. Couple that with a late season trip to Kansas City, and this worries me as a fan. Realistically, I should only figure the Browns to win one game against the AFC West – but the irrational side of me expects a win nearly every game.
Ironically, the Browns start off against the Jets and the Titans – the two franchises who they play based off of last year’s position within the AFC North. Is it greedy to believe the team can start out 2 – 0? The Jets had a solid draft, but are far from scary (especially under center). Additionally, Marcus Mariota will likely be the quarterback for the Titans in week two. Like the way they took down David Carr last year, the Browns must make the rookie take his lumps.
Conclusion: Adding up the totals of wins by group (which will likely not be accurate, but who knows) and my faith in getting over the six-and-a-half wins is strong. Three intra-division wins, three wins against the AFC and NFC West opponents, and beating the Jets and Titans adds up to a total of eight victories in 2015. Clearly some things will be better than anticipated, while others will go awry.