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Games 9 – 16: Cleveland Browns’ Schedule Analysis

Games 9 – 16:  Cleveland Browns’ Schedule Analysis

Cleveland Browns’ 2016 Schedule: Second Half Breakdown

The second portion of the campaign for the Cleveland Browns features much more AFC North foes on it. Everyone knows that will lead to hard-nosed battles, with possible scuffles and injuries. I would not be surprised if they came away with some victories in these contests. Meanwhile, some traditional powerhouse teams could stumble if they overlook Hue Jackson’s club.

Away Contests: Week 10 @ Baltimore, Week 15 @ Buffalo, and Week 17 @ Pittsburgh 

I’m not going to sugarcoat this; the away stretch of the second half of the regular season will be difficult. All three venues are tough places to play, and the Browns have had little success at each of these stadiums. Honestly, one win out of these three contests should be welcomed (but that is still unlikely). If somehow the Browns can win more than one, it will be a miracle. I suppose the greatest possibility would be at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo. 

Home Contests: Week 9 vs. Dallas, Week 11 vs. Pittsburgh, Week 12 vs. New York (Giants), Week 14 vs. Cincinnati, and Week 16 vs. San Diego

On the other side of the coin, this home slate is not as terrible as it could have been a few seasons ago. The Chargers are aging and far from a complete team, while the Giants will not be as tough as they have been under Tom Coughlin. This can tip the scales to the home squad, who needs to prove they are no longer pushovers.

Meanwhile, Dallas is a crapshoot – and I have no idea what to expect from them (especially looking at who their signal caller might be for the matchup). I still have faith the Browns can win divisional games at home. That said, another two or three wins should be anticipated by the orange and brown in these meetings.

Conclusion: Looking back at the schedule and putting realistic expectations on outcomes – five to seven wins feels about right. I would be content with this; the Browns will have greatly improved upon their record in 2015 and will be building towards the future. Finishing the campaign relatively healthy and on an uptick, and I would be finally happy at the end of a Cleveland Browns’ season.

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Posted by on May 26, 2016 in NFL Season

 

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Browns 2016 Schedule Breakdown: Games 1 – 8

Browns 2016 Schedule Breakdown: Games 1 – 8

Cleveland Browns’ 2016 Schedule: First Half Analysis

It’s never too soon to take a peek into the regular season schedule for the Browns, which begins just around four months from now. Some people are (already) predicting doom and gloom and noted that the Browns are underdogs in each contest. However, that was prior to the draft and many things can happen before September – including player development and injuries. Let’s take a gander at the team’s first eight games.

Away Contests: Week 1 @ Philadelphia, Week 3 @ Miami, Week 4 @ Washington, Week 6 @ Tennessee, and Week 7 @ Cincinnati

I have to admit that this stretch is not a murderer’s row as some people are making it out to be. All five contests are winnable; yes even the game against the Bengals. I admittedly am always a Browns optimist (until things crash and burn), but do not envision the type of drubbing that the Browns are accustomed to. Realistically I could see two or three wins coming against this group of foes. If they were against Philadelphia and Tennessee – that would be even sweeter (as the Browns will get their future draft picks, and losses will only help with draft positioning). The team will be turning heads by the way the play well on the road.

Home Contests: Week 2 vs. Baltimore, Week 5 vs. New England, and Week 8 vs. New York (Jets)

Many are in the camp that “the sky is falling”, when previewing the early schedule for games played at First Energy Stadium. The matchup against the Patriots, I will concede that as a loss. This only becomes solidified if Tom Brady’s suspension remains upheld and this is his first game in 2016. The other two contests can be had by the orange and brown though. The Ravens’ drafting has steadily been in decline, and I don’t see a tremendous roster. If this defense can put pressure on Joe Flacco, then a victory is likely for the home team. Who knows what will happen for gang green? Will Christian Hackenburg be their signal caller for this game? If that’s the case, I would feel comfortable penciling in a “W” for the Browns.

Conclusion: The first half of this season’s schedule is not as daunting as several people are leading us to believe. I firmly envision three to five victories during this stretch – any more would be excellent and any fewer would be a disappointment. Sorry, I refuse to believe that the team will go 1 – 15 and be the worst team in the league.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2016 in NFL Season

 

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Ending the Regular Season: The Cleveland Browns in 2014

Ending the Regular Season:  The Cleveland Browns in 2014

Rounding out the Final Four Contests of the 2014 Schedule

Previewing Games 13 – 16:

Assuming the four opponents play to their capabilities, what a difficult way to finish off the regular season for the Cleveland Browns.  In it, they face three teams coming off playoff appearances and the other is a perennial Super Bowl contender.  It’s hard to predict (right now) whether the Browns will need to go 3 – 1 or 4 – 0 here to clinch a spot in the playoffs, or whether these matchups will, once again, be irrelevant.  Nonetheless, let’s see what the squad is up against.

Sunday, December 7th – vs. Indianapolis

Outside of a Peyton Hillis-led drubbing of Kerry Collins and the Colts in 2011, the home team has gone down in defeat each time they faced the Colts since 1999.  Battling Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck are not simple tasks, but the Browns were due for at least one upset, right?  Hopefully 2014 is the year where the team comes together and finally
takes down the blue and white.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 4

Sunday, December 14th – vs. Cincinnati

As much as the visiting team struggles in this rivalry, the home team should be attributed to doing its job as well.  Brian Hoyer was the hero last time the Bengals visited First Energy Stadium in 2013.  Should we expect a repeat performance?  I believe that Johnny Manziel will be under center for this contest, but I have been known to be wrong (from time to time).  Again, I might be mistaken, but a win here should be ripe for the picking.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 6

Sunday, December 21st – @ Carolina

A rare matchup between inter-conference foes is the scenario for both the Panthers and Browns.  It’s unlikely that the home squad will repeat their 12 – 4 record from a year ago; but they should still remain a solid bunch.  Cam Newton is a dynamic quarterback who can give defenses fits – especially if they are not properly prepared.  I cannot wait to see what coach Pettine draws up as his game plan for this one.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 4

Sunday, December 28th – @ Baltimore

Should the Ravens clinch a berth in the playoffs before kickoff (via wildcard or division crown); do not expect a “let up” for their guests.  The Browns will have to fight tooth and nail in this contest if they want to spur an upset.  Like many away venues, this has been a cruel one over the years.  I can only hope that lady luck is on the side of the orange and brown – the way it was for Phil Dawson’s game-tying kick in 2007.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 2

Conclusion:  Many Browns fans are trained to be pessimistic, largely to the team’s underperformance and overall bad football.  While I have been accustomed to that type of thinking, I sense 2014 can be different.  Despite feeling less than 50/50 in three of these four contests right now, one never knows what can happen when the game is actually played.  I believe the Browns make the leap to the playoff hunt this season and what occurs in December will decide the team’s fate (I’m praying for a miracle).

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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The Next Quarter: Looking at Games 9 to 12

The Next Quarter:  Looking at Games 9 to 12

Continuing our Preview of the 2014 Browns Regular Season

A Look into the Third Quarter of the Campaign: Games 9 -12

At this point of the regular season, coaches (and fans) should pretty much know what to expect from the Browns on a weekly basis.  More often than not, amidst a putrid season, the Browns have faltered in late games.  Let’s hope that’s not the case in 2014, and the team continues for a rare successful year.  Unlike games five through eight, these are primarily on the road – but I would not count the Cleveland Browns out of these contests just yet.

Thursday, November 6th – @ Cincinnati

Known for sloppy play in recent history, it’s hard to believe that the nation will be extremely excited for the Thursday night battle between the Ohio foes.  Fans vividly remember the Browns’ game last year, where both starting quarterbacks had major injuries and Brandon Weeden finished out the victorious contest.  I’m looking forward to the Browns breaking whatever hex there is at Paul Brown Stadium, but that is a tall order.  It may take a huge effort – by the defense or maybe even Johnny Manziel.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 3

Sunday, November 16th – vs. Houston

In the first of three games that can go either way, I like that this contest is at First Energy Stadium.  A lot of new faces will be on the roster for the guests.  Can Jadeveon Clowney become that bookend star opposite J.J. Watt?  There’s a good opportunity for that to occur, but on the other side of the ball I’m one for betting against Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, and Tom Savage.  A great deal of carries should be given to former Texan Ben Tate this contest.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 5

Sunday, November 23rd – @ Atlanta

I firmly believe 2013 was an aberration for the Falcons, who have a tremendous roster – injuries led to their downfall and a multitude of losses.  This appears to be an extremely difficult matchup for the Browns and should feature several touchdowns.  I am pulling for Joe Haden and the secondary to force a few errant throws by Matt Ryan. There’s a good probability that doing so might be the only way the visitors have a chance to leave the Georgia Dome (for the final time) with a win.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 4

Sunday, November 30th – @ Buffalo

An annual matchup between defending cellar dwellers (of their respective divisions), the Browns once again face the Bills.  This time Mike Pettine will be on the sidelines of the orange and brown, but with the number of changes that occur annually in the NFL it’s going to be difficult to believe he will have intimate knowledge of his former defense.   Both rosters appear to be improved from last season and another tight contest should be expected.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 6

Conclusion:  Outside of the nationally televised contest to start this stretch, I am firmly on the fence (at least right now) in terms of the Browns winning games.  Things could become clearer in the near future – i.e. hot streaks, injuries, etc. – but I am far from guaranteeing anything.  It’s safe to say that while all contests in the NFL are important (specifically intra-divisional matchups); securing winnable ones are huge building blocks.  That is exactly the scenario for the Browns during games nine through twelve.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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The Next Four: Previewing the Browns’ 2014 Season

The Next Four:  Previewing the Browns’ 2014 Season

Looking at the Next Quarter of the 2014 Campaign

Games 5 – 8 and a Sneak Peek:

On paper, the next four games for the Cleveland Browns appear to be more winnable than the first four (of the 2014 campaign).  It is still the NFL however, and anything can occur during the three-hour contests.  Let’s take an early glance at a portion of the schedule that will be played primarily at First Energy Stadium.

Sunday, October 12th – vs. Pittsburgh

Will this contest feature a different starting quarterback for the Browns than the first contest against the Steelers?  Could Manziel start the opener and Hoyer get the nod on October 12th?  It is extremely early, but speculation will run rampant from now until training camp wraps up.  I’m in the camp of playing the guy who can get it done and beat the team just to the east of Cleveland.  I’ll let coach Pettine and Kyle Shanahan determine exactly who that is. Current odds of victory (1-10): 6

Sunday, October 19th – @ Jacksonville

A perennial sub-.500 franchise, the Jaguars actually closed out their 2013 campaign rather well (going 4-4 during the final eight contests). The question then remains whether that momentum can be carried into this season.  The team is relying on Chad Henne as their quarterback and are content with letting rookie Blake Bortles hold a clipboard this fall.  However, as we all know in Cleveland, things have a way of not going according to script.  You can bet that the Browns’ defense will be salivating if Bortles is under center during this matchup. Current odds of victory (1-10): 8

Sunday, October 26th – vs. Oakland

Another contest against a team that does a lot of losing presents itself here (for the Browns).  Additionally, rookie signal caller Derek Carr might be playing should Matt Schaub perform the way he did in 2013.  Nothing is guaranteed in this league (as the Browns were a Fozzy Whittaker muffed onside kick away from beating the Patriots last
year), but this is one game I firmly believe the Browns should come out ahead.  I’m hoping the home stadium is rocking if the opponent, traveling three time zones over, succumbs to misfortune.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 9

Sunday, November 2nd – vs. Tampa Bay

Before the season begins, the visiting team appears as a group of pushovers.  However, I feel they will surprise a vast majority and give the Browns a difficult game.  Lovie Smith will have their defense ready to shut down the running game and limit whoever is under center. The winner of the Josh McCown/Mike Glennon quarterback derby might have a strong outing in this contest.  Turnovers will likely be the difference between a narrow win and a crushing defeat.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 6

Conclusion:  Rightly or wrongly, my confidence in the team exceling is rather high during games five through eight.  Hopefully, this is the portion where the Browns either make up ground or (somehow) distance themselves from the AFC North.  Going winless or just securing one victory in this portion of the schedule would be extremely deflating
and something this franchise does not need.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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Previewing of First Quarter of 2014 Schedule

Previewing of First Quarter of 2014 Schedule

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.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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