The Cleveland Browns begin 2018 on the road for their first two games (at PIT and NO). To make things more difficult, they will be without offensive lineman Donald Stephenson for those two contests. Stephenson was suspended for the first two games of the season due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Coming off of an 0-16 campaign in 2017, the Browns needed to make some serious moves in the offseason. They added QB Tyrod Taylor from the Bills, and drafted Heisman Trophy winning QB, Baker Mayfield, as the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Jarvis Landry made his way over from the Miami Dolphins, and will be a big time target in the passing game for whoever is playing QB for the Browns this season. After serving nearly three years worth of suspensions from the league, wide receiver Josh Gordon will be looking to pay back the Browns organization for their patience with him. He and fellow wideout Corey Coleman are two of the more physical wideouts in the league. Add in a very deep backfield highlighted by Georgia superstar, Nick Chubb, and the 2018 Browns are sure to win a few games, right?
Let’s break down the regular season for what could be the most highly anticipated season for an 0-16 team, ever.
The Cleveland Browns season win total for 2018 is set at 5.5 games. Please note that this franchise has won a grand total of four games over the past three seasons. They have exactly a 4-44 record since the start of the 2015 season. If you are looking at taking Over 5.5 wins, understand that you are asking this team to win more games in one season, than they have won in their last three.
With that being said, I believe the Browns are finally on their way up. Cleveland, we all know you are going to need something to lift your spirits once LeBron James departs The Land for the second time in his career. I can promise you this… the Cleveland Browns will win a game in 2018. Phew, isn’t that a relief? I cannot promise you that they will win more than five games. In fact, one of my best bets for NFL season win totals is going to be the Browns Under 5.5 wins.
Here’s how it will all happen.
You can go ahead and chalk up two fat L’s for the Browns in weeks 1 and 2. Two road games, and losing a starting offensive lineman is going to hurt you. A new QB (possibly a rookie) stepping in for the first time with the team, will also hurt you.
Week 1 – @ Steelers (L)
Week 2 – @ Saints (L)
Now we head to week 3. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe this will be where the Browns get their first win since December 24th, 2016. Thursday Night Football in Cleveland (I mean where else would you rather be?), and the New York Jets make their way into the Dog Pound. Both teams will be on a short week, but the biggest factor here is Jets rookie QB, Sam Darnold. A rookie QB on a short week against a team that is looking for revenge from a 14-17 loss to the Jets last season at home.
Week 3 – vs. Jets (W)
Congratulations Browns Nation! You will finally be able to strut into the office Friday morning at work, chin held high, knowing that your team will not be laying another goose egg this season. Then after a nice long week to soak in the victory, it’s back on the road at Oakland for week 4. Jon Gruden is back where he is meant to be as head coach of the Oakland Raiders, and I cannot tell you a story of how the Raiders drop this one at home.
Week 4 – @ Raiders (L)
Weeks 5 and 6 will be at home for the Browns before a two-game road trip that will wrap up the first half of the season. It’s left to be seen if and when Lamar Jackson gets the nod as the starting QB for the Ravens. The new additions of Jackson and Robert Griffin III have lit a fire in under QB Joe Flacco’s ass, and I expect him to play well because of it. The Browns are not on the Ravens level quite yet, so let’s consider this one a loss as well.
Week 5 – vs. Ravens (L)
The Chargers come to town the following week, and this is an intriguing spot where I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cleveland come out with a surprise victory. This will be the lowest level of competition the Chargers will have seen at that point in the season, and therefore a potential let down spot. I’ll be generous and say that they catch the Chargers sleeping and muster up a big-time win before heading on the road to Tampa Bay.
Week 6 – vs. Chargers (W)
The week 7 matchup with the Buccaneers is another favorable spot for the Browns, given that Tampa Bay is in a sandwich spot between two road trips. I really wanted to give the win to Cleveland here originally, but asking them to win back-to-back games may be asking too much. I think it’s fair to say that the Browns will split the Chargers and Buccaneers games. If they lose to the Chargers at home, I believe it makes it an even better spot for the Browns to steal one at Tampa Bay — their first road victory since October 11th, 2015.
Week 7 – @ Buccaneers (L)
Week 8 – @ Steelers (L)
The first half of the regular season wraps up with a good old-fashioned loss on the road to the Steelers. The Browns will be sitting at 2-6, requiring them to go .500 for the remainder of the season in order to surpass 5.5 wins.
Weeks 9 and 10 will be at home, beginning with the Kansas City Chiefs lead by first-year starting QB Patrick Mahomes. The last time the Browns and Chiefs played each other was in week 16 of the 2015 season. Johnny Manziel was the Browns leading passer and rusher for that game, in a 13-17 loss at Kansas City. Unless Mahomes performs out of his mind leading up to this game, I believe the Browns will be in a position to get a win here. None of their wins will come easy, but a home game against a first-year starting QB is an angle I will lean on.
Week 9 – vs. Chiefs (W)
Cleveland gets win number three, before being brought back to earth in a week 10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Now, six games remain. The Browns will get their bye week before completing their final six games, with four of those games coming on the road.
Week 10 – vs. Falcons (L)
The first of those four road games will be the Cincinnati Bengals in week 12. Last season, the Bengals lit up the Browns for 30+ points in both meetings. The Bengals will be coming off of a road game against the Ravens, which is historically a slugfest to say the least. The last time the Browns beat the Bengals was in Cincinnati in 2014. With the Browns having an extra week to prepare, I’m going to be generous again and give them a huge divisional road victory.
Week 11 – @ Bengals (W)
The Browns begin the second half of the season 2-1 (4-7 overall), so far so good. I mean, heck they may technically be in the playoff hunt at this point. This is where we witness one of the greatest season-to-season turnarounds ever for an NFL franchise, right? Wrong. This is where reality sets in as they face three of the leagues top-10 defenses (two on the road), plus a Houston Texans team with a healthy DeShaun Watson.
Week 12 – @ Texans (L)
Cleveland will lose at Houston, as the Texans continue to fight for playoff position in the AFC. Their final four games will be home against Carolina, on the road at Denver, home against Cincinnati, and then finishing the season on the road at Baltimore. They would have to win two of those games, and I just don’t see it.
Week 13 – vs. Panthers (L)
Week 14 – @ Broncos (L)
Week 15 – vs. Bengals (L)
Week 16 – @ Ravens (L)
I was already generous to them up until this point. So, this is considering that they do steal a win against the Buccaneers or Chargers during the first half of the season, plus taking down the Chiefs and the Bengals at least once. The Browns final two games vs. Cincinnati and at Baltimore would be their best shot depending on the motivation for those teams and if they are still battling for playoff position or not.
Final prediction for the Cleveland Browns 2018 season: 4-12
The Pick: Under 5.5 Wins (EVEN)