So, the Browns released the regular season schedule. I am now going to attempt to predict the result (but not the score, because I’m not insane) of each game. Of course, once the draft is finished, this may change, but I’m basing things on who I think Cleveland is likely to pick and why.
Week 1: @ PHI. Philly and Cleveland were ranked 26 and 27 in offensive DVOA last season, despite Sam Bradford quietly having a pretty okay season. However, defensively Philly was much better. Eagles win. 0-1.
Week 2: vs. BAL. Baltimore is not a good team. They are not likely to be good soon. Cleveland will probably at least split the season series with them and I’m picking this game as a win because a) it’s at home, b) it’s Baltimore, and c) the cavalcade of injuries won’t come until later in the season. Browns win. 1-1
Week 3: @ MIA. Without some serious upgrades, Cleveland will be at best mediocre against the run. Lamar Miller will probably be healthy. Dolphins win. 1-2
Week 4: @ WAS. Do you believe in Kirk Cousins? No, you don’t. He had a very good year last season, but it’s unlikely that he’ll repeat it. RG3 is going to be playing with a huge chip on his shoulder, though, and Washington can’t run the ball. Browns win. 2-2
Week 5: vs. NE. Unless Tom Brady is abducted by aliens, there’s no way we’ll win this game. Even if he is abducted by aliens, we still probably lose. Patriots win. 2-3
Week 6: @ TEN. Before the trade with LA, I would have bet this would be a guaranteed win. If the Titans draft intelligently and the Browns don’t, we could be in some trouble. I have just enough faith in the new regime that we’ll make enough improvements to keep pace with the Titans in 2016, but next year? We’ll see. Browns win. 3-3
Week 7: @ CIN. The Bengals are objectively the better team, but Hue Jackson will be fired up to prove he can be a great coach. It’ll be closer than anyone thinks, but still… Bengals win. 3-4
Week 8: vs. NYJ. The Jets had a decent offense, but they also had Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is mediocrity personified. Also, they lost their left tackle. I think I smell an upset. Browns win. 4-4
Week 9: vs. DAL. The Cowboys were horrifically bad because they didn’t have competent QB play. If Tony Romo is even remotely healthy, I don’t have a lot of confidence in Cleveland winning here. Cowboys win. 4-5
Week 10: @ BAL. I predicted a season split earlier, so I’ll stick to my guns. Ravens win. 4-6.
Week 11: vs. PIT. Pittsburgh got reamed by injuries last season and I don’t think we’ll have that kind of luck again. Steelers win. 4-7
Week 12: vs. NYG. The Giants and Browns were very similar teams, except the Giants had Eli Manning and Cleveland didn’t. I think that still applies, so… Giants win. 4-8
Week 13: A late bye would be good if we were making a playoff run. I do not think that is going to happen.
Week 14: vs. CIN. … However, coming off the bye, Cleveland might have some momentum. And it’s a home game. Upset? Upset. Browns win. 5-8
Week 15: @ BUF. Great running game meets bad rushing defense. Bills win. 5-9.
Week 16: vs SD. See NYG game, but replace Eli Manning with Philip Rivers. Chargers win. 5-10.
Week 17: @PIT. If Pittsburgh makes the playoffs, which I think they will, they would normally rest starters. Of course, it’s still CLE-PIT, so… Steelers win. 5-11.
So, this season, I’m predicting 5-11. The biggest problem is that the Browns, right now, are clearly worse on offense than they were last year. A good draft could change that, but then there’s also the defense, which is younger but I’m not sure if it’s better. I also really don’t like Ray Horton’s defensive scheming. After all, last season I predicted an 11-5 season, based on Johnny Manziel not being a total asshat. Well, joke’s on me. I did correctly predicted we’d beat the 49ers and Titans, but I missed the third win (I had them beating Baltimore in Week 12, not Week 5).
You know what? A 5-11 season would be a sign of progress. I could even see a 7-9 record if the Chargers and Giants aren’t as good as I think they are. This isn’t a one season rebuild, after all.