Hard Knocks is done. The final 53-man roster is finalized, and now it is officially Steeler Week in Berea. With Week 1 coming up on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns begin their preparations for their archrival–and nemesis–the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With all of the new additions via free agency and NFL Draft, Cleveland has a very good chance of improving on an 0-16 season.
It’s not that hard, really. Just win ONE game.
Based on the reports from training camp and HBO’s hit documentary, there seems to be a new attitude and edge in the 2018-19 Browns.
Is it real or all Hollywood fluff?
Below are my predictions for what may be a promising one on the North Coast.
Week 1- Pittsburgh Steelers: With the recent developments of star Steelers running back, Le’Veon Bell holding out and likely missing this game, Cleveland has its best chance against Big Ben, who is 23-2 vs. Cleveland. Win.
Week 2- @ New Orleans Saints: It’s always a tussle down in the Big Easy whenever you face Canton-bound HOF’er in QB Drew Brees. But for some strange reason though, the Browns always seem to play well in NOLA. Win.
Week 3- New York Jets: A nice and juicy prime-time matchup under the lights vs. the Jets–see MNF 1970–always seems to bring out the best in Cleveland. Rookie QB Sam Darnold will get a nice introduction to the Dawg Pound. Win.
Week 4- @Oakland Raiders: While they don’t have to worry about blocking All-Pro pass rusher in Khalil Mack, a visiting Browns squad still has to face a potent Raiders offense led by Derek Carr in their first trip out West. Loss
Week 5- Baltimore Ravens: Cleveland comes back home to exact some long-awaited payback against another long-time tormentor in Ravens QB Joe Flacco: Win
Week 6- Los Angeles Chargers: No Christmas Day miracles needed to beat the Bolts this time, as Cleveland takes advantage of the dreaded West Coast-team-traveling-East syndrome: Win
@Week 7- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Depending in which QB is under center for the Bucs as the Browns make their only trip to Florida, Cleveland will likely be in the middle of a hot streak. Jameis Winston or Ryan Fitzpatrick be damned! Win
@Week 8- Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steel City has always been a house of horrors for the Browns dating back to the infamous Three Rivers Jinx. Sadly Heinz Field and a fired-up Steelers squad will beat Cleveland once again down on The Confluence. Loss
Week 9- Kansas City Chiefs: Back Home in the Dawg Pound, Cleveland greets first-year Chiefs QB starter Patrick Mahomes and the visiting AFC West champions with a Dawg Pound special. Win
Week 10- Atlanta Falcons: This could be a tricky affair, as NFL MVP QB Matt Ryan and the Falcons will likely be in the middle of a playoff chase in the NFC. Playing up north, outside the warm confines of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in frigid Cleveland may prove to be a problem. Win
@Week 11- Cincinnati Bengals: Late-season AFC North games are always a tussle. With Marvin Lewis likely coaching for his job, he visiting Browns put the nail in his coaching coffin down in The Queen City: Win
@Week 12- Houston Texans: This is a case of too much Deshaun Watson, JJ Watt and DeAndre Hopkins for the Browns to handle. Don’t be shocked to hear Watson’s name mention as the next elite QB after this game. Loss
Week 13- Carolina Panthers: There is just something about the Panthers that seems to give the Browns problems. On this day it’ll be too much of Cam Newton. Loss
@Week 14- Denver Broncos: 30 years after “The Fumble” Mike High and the ghost of John Elway continue to haunt the Browns. Loss
Week 15- Cincinnati Bengals: Of Lewis is still coaching the Bengals by this game, he won’t be afterwards. Win
@Baltimore Ravens: At this point (hopefully!), Cleveland is contending for an unlikely wildcard or the AFC North title. Baltimore is likely at this point shut things down and handed the QB reigns over to former Heisman Trophy winner, Lamar Jackson. This game could go either way, but the Ravens are a prideful franchise and will be sure to get up for spoiling Cleveland’s improbable season. Loss.