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Cleveland Browns Betting Preview 2021

The Cleveland Browns were one of the NFL’s surprise teams during the 2020-21 season, finishing with an 11-5 record. In some years, that would have been enough to win the AFC North, but last year, the division was as competitive as ever and that record still saw the Browns finish third in the standings.

Even more promising for Cleveland fans, the Browns won a playoff game for the first time since the 1994 season, beating the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers 48-37. While Cleveland lost in the Divisional Round to the Kansas City Chiefs 22-17, the 2020-21 season was largely successful and should serve as a stepping stone toward further success for the Browns in 2021-22.

Cleveland Browns 2020 Schedule

Based on their 2020 win total, the Browns have the ninth-toughest schedule in the league, but the easiest schedule in the AFC North. This is because they are matched up against other third-place finishers to round out their schedule. As such, they have the inside track to make a run at a division title.

Week Date Opponent
Week 1 Sept. 12 at Kansas City Chiefs
Week 2 Sept. 19 at Houston Texans
Week 3 Sept. 26 at Chicago Bears
Week 4 Oct. 3 at Minnesota Vikings
Week 5 Oct. 10 at Los Angeles Chargers
Week 6 Oct. 17 at Arizona Cardinals
Week 7 Oct. 24 at Denver Broncos
Week 8 Oct. 31 at Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 9 Nov. 7 at Cincinnati Bengals
Week 10 Nov. 14 at New England Patriots
Week 11 Nov. 18 at Detroit Lions
Week 12 Nov. 28 at Baltimore Ravens
Week 13 Dec. 5 BY WEEK
Week 14 Dec. 12 at Baltimore Ravens
Week 15 Dec. 19 at Las Vegas Raiders
Week 16 Dec. 26 at Green Bay Packers
Week 17 Jan. 3 at Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 18 Jan. 9 at Cincinnati Bengals

 

Outside of the divisional games, Browns fans will want to note the Week 1 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs and a Week 7 Thursday Night Football matchup with the Denver Broncos.

Cleveland Browns News & Picks

Cleveland Browns 2020 Summary

The Browns seemingly came out of nowhere in the 2020-21 season, improving noticeably from the 6-10 performance in 2019-20. New head coach Kevin Stefanski utilized a two-headed rushing attack of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to open up the offense for quarterback Baker Mayfield. At a near-perfect 50-50 split, the Browns had 501 passing attempts against 495 rushing attempts.

While Mayfield finished 18th in passing yards, largely due to the success of the rushing attack, Cleveland was still successful through the air, even though wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. tore his ACL in Week 7 and missed the rest of the season. Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins stepped up in OBJ’s absence, and tight end Austin Hooper posted his third straight season with 400-plus yards and four touchdowns.

Cleveland had a chance to finish second in the AFC North and move up a spot in the playoff race, but a Week 16 loss to the New York Jets after a Mayfield fumble on fourth down doomed the chances of a home playoff game.

Undeterred, the Browns beat the Steelers at home in Week 17 and then went on the road to win at Pittsburgh 48-37 in the Wild Card round. However, that was followed by a 22-17 loss at eventual AFC Champion Kansas City in the Divisional Round.

Cleveland Browns Key Players

The Browns once again went heavy on drafting defensive prospects, and two rookies could play a big role in the team’s fortunes.

Cleveland selected cornerback Greg Newsome II in the first round, further adding talent and athleticism to the Browns’ secondary. Newsome did not play a full season in college, so durability is a slight concern, but if he is on the field he’ll be making plays whether in pass coverage or stopping the run.

Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was a Butkus Award winner, unanimous All-American, and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year during his senior season at Notre Dame. Owusu-Koramoah is an explosive player, but he could be an interesting fit in defensive coordinator Joe Woods’ 4-2-5 scheme.

Offensively, Beckham needs to have a healthy and productive season. OBJ has only played 16 games in a season once in the last four years. Once considered one of the top receivers in the league, he’s in line for a bounce back and could be the X-factor of the Browns’ offense.

Cleveland Browns New Additions

  • Jadeveon Clowney, DE
  • Troy Hill, CB
  • Malik Jackson, DT
  • John Johnson, S
  • Takk McKinley, DE
  • Greg Newsome II, CB (drafted in the first round)
  • Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB (drafted in the second round)
  • Greg Senat, OT
  • Anthony Walker, LB

Cleveland Browns Key Subtractions

  • B.J. Goodson, LB (still a free agent, may yet return to Cleveland)
  • Kendall Lamm, OT (signed with the Tennessee Titans)
  • Terrance Mitchell, CB (signed with the Houston Texans)
  • Larry Ogunjobi, DT (signed with the Cincinnati Bengals)
  • Sheldon Richardson, DT (signed with the Minnesota Vikings)
  • Andrew Sendejo, FS (still a free agent, may yet return to Cleveland)

AFC North Divisional Outlook

The race to win the AFC North will once again be a tight one. Baltimore is ever-so-slightly favored over the Browns at +125, with Cleveland a touch behind at +135. The Steelers are +300 and the Cincinnati Bengals are a longshot at +2500.

The Ravens’ over/under win total is set at 11.5. Cleveland’s is at 10.5, Pittsburgh at 8.5, and Cincinnati at 6.5.

Cleveland Browns Offense

Cleveland’s offense is well-balanced and loaded with playmakers. Fourth-year gunslinger Mayfield is the starter under center and he has plenty of weapons. Chubb and Hunt are as good a 1-2 punch out of the backfield as you’ll find anywhere in the league. Chubb will get more usage on the early downs and more rushing touches while Hunt will be a change-of-pace receiving option out of the backfield. If both are on the field at the same time, Chubb and Hunt will leave opposing defenses guessing.

Through the air, Beckham and Landry are excellent receivers. Hooper is a big red-zone target and had more touchdowns than almost every Browns receiver last season.

The Browns have one of the best offensive lines in the league. The unit ranked first in run-blocking and second in pass-blocking in 2020, according to Pro Football Focus. Football games are won and lost in the trenches, and Cleveland’s O-line will give them plenty of chances to win.

Cleveland Browns Defense

The Browns employ a 4-3 base defense but like to utilize 4-2-5 looks as well. Given the quality of wide receivers in the division, having extra defensive backs on the field is important, as well as having the speed to catch up with Baltimore’s dual-threat quarterback, Lamar Jackson.

Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney are two fearsome pass-rushers and will wreak havoc off the edge. Newcomer Malik Jackson should help shut down the run game as well, beefing up the defensive line.

The linebackers and secondary are noticeably on the younger side, with only one starter having more than four years of experience (cornerback Troy Hill). However, there’s tons of talent within this group. Denzel Ward has been solid the past three years, but he needs to be able to stay on the field, having yet to play a full season.

Team FAQ

What is the Cleveland Browns’ all-time record?

The Browns are 533-509-14 all-time.

Who owns the Cleveland Browns?

The Browns’ current owner is Jimmy Haslem.

How many Super Bowls have the Cleveland Browns won?

The Cleveland Browns have never won a Super Bowl; in fact, they are one of four teams that have never played in a Super Bowl, along with the Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars. Cleveland did win four NFL Championships in 1950, 1954, 1955 and 1964, before the Super Bowl era.

Who is the quarterback for the Cleveland Browns?

Baker Mayfield is the Browns’ starting quarterback.

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