In The Bettors Corner: Cleveland Browns



On January 1st, 1995, Bill Belichick and the Cleveland Browns beat Bill Parcells and the New England Patriots 20-13 at the old Municipal Stadium in Cleveland in the wild card round of the NFL playoffs. Nobody then would have guessed it would be 26 years before they would win another playoff game.

The frustration of all those years came out in Pittsburgh, where the Browns scored two touchdowns in the first five minutes on their way to a 35-10 halftime lead and their first playoff win since 1995. All this despite head coach of the year Kevin Stefanski not being able to be there due to covid19 protocols. Although the playoff run ended a week later in Kansas City, the Browns seem to be set up for many more playoff games over the next few years. In his first year with the Browns, Stefanski became the first coach to lead them to a winning season since 2007. In going 11-5 in 2020, the Browns averaged 148.4 yards a game on the ground. Ranking third in the NFL. The rushing attack was led by Nick Chubb, who ran for 1,067 yards in 12 games. Kareem Hunt added 841 yards. Baker Mayfield threw for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns, and only 8 interceptions. He completed almost 63% of his passes, up from 59% in 2019. Mayfield attempted 48 fewer passes and 13 fewer interceptions in 2020. The Browns ranked third in the NFL in running the ball 49.7% of the time.

In drafting defensive players with their first two picks in the 2021 draft, Greg Newsome, cornerback from Northwestern, and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, linebacker from Notre Dame, the Browns hope to bolster a defense that ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in points per game (26.2), and yards per game( 358.4). Myles Garret led the team with 12 sacks.

After a week one visit to Kansas City, the Browns play five of the next seven games at home. All very winnable games, including the Texans, Bears, and Broncos on Thursday night football. A bye in week 13 is sandwiched between two games against the Baltimore Ravens. Although Cleveland resides in the only division that had three playoff teams last year, there only games against 2020 playoff teams outside their division are at Kansas City (week one) at Green Bay (Christmas Day) and home against Chicago ( week 3). Only one Monday night game at Pittsburgh in early January, and the Browns only travel to the west coast once on October 10th to face the Chargers. And the extra game on the schedule is home against the Cardinals.

Kevin Stefanski completely changed the culture in Cleveland in his first year as head coach. They are expected to win football games. Not hoping they will. With a powerful run game led by Nick Chubb, the Browns control the ball and allow Baker Mayfield to manage the game and not take so many chances at quarterback. The defense should improve in the second year under Joe Woods. The return of safety Grant Delpit and rookie first-rounder Newsome should strengthen the secondary where Cleveland struggled at times. A schedule that has them home 5 of the first 8 weeks, including three straight in the middle of October, should get them off to a good start. Cleveland will challenge Baltimore for the division title and most definitely will be a playoff team again in 2021.

Cleveland Browns over 10 wins.

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