In this series of articles here on the Last Word On Sports, we will be breaking down each NFL division starting every Monday, preparing for the upcoming 2018 NFL Season. We will highlight strengths and weaknesses of each team and make our best analysis and predictions for this upcoming season. Let’s continue with the AFC North Breakdown.
2018 NFL Breakdown: Cleveland Browns : 8 – 8
The Cleveland Browns had one of the most active offseasons in the league. The Browns are tired of being the bottom feeder of the NFL. The Browns went out and added Jarvis Landry, Tyrod Taylor, Carlos Hyde, Damarious Randall, and Darren Fells.
The Browns also had a ton of draft picks in which they landed Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, Nick Chubb, Chad Thomas, and Antonio Callaway. The Browns have made some significant offseason moves in which they hope to make the playoffs next season as the start to something new. With the additions on offense and the playmakers they have the Browns should have one of the most dynamic offenses in the league.
The Browns are also young on defense but with those guys getting a ton of playing time last year because of their 0 – 16 record they should be ready to have a big season. The Browns also have a new coordinator under head coach Hugh Jackson in Todd Haley who is the new offensive coordinator from Pittsburgh which should help the offense.
The Cleveland Browns are a franchise that has been the bottom feeder of the league for almost a decade now. The last winning season that the Browns had was 2007 where they finished 10 – 6 but missed the playoffs. In the last 19 seasons the Browns have had two winning season while making the playoffs once in 2002 before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the playoffs.
The Browns could be in territory they haven’t been in for a while which is possibly making the playoffs if their offseason moves work out. If they don’t work out how they plan then the Browns will be the bottom feeders once again and have to try to figure it out.
Teams Most Valuable Player : WR Jarvis Landry/DB Damrious Randall
The Browns added to veterans on both sides of the ball who could play a major part in how this season plays out. Jarvis Landry is on of the best receivers in the game and has been one of the most consistent year in and year out. Landry is a leader and has been to the playoffs as well as had some down years. Having Landry around these young guys and Josh Gordon could be key for the Browns offense. As for the defense the Browns added Damarious Randall who has been on the Packers for the past 3 seasons around guys like Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, and Clay Matthews. Randall can take some of the culture from Green Bay and bring it to Cleveland to help these guys with the team chemistry and becoming more of a leader.
Team Sleeper : DB Denzel Ward
Cleveland Browns selected Denzel Ward with the fourth pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Ward is a defensive back from Ohio State who has had some great ones come into the league at that position. Denzel will most likely be the top corner for the Browns this season. Ward has a chance to come in and be the guy from the start. The Browns are hoping that Ward can have the same remarkable year that Lattimore had with the Saints in his rookie season last year. Ward will be the guy who will cover the opposing teams best receiver week in and week out. Playing in the AFC North might be challenging with the Ward having to play Antonio Brown, AJ Green, and Michael Crabtree twice a year.
Training Camp Battle : Quarterback
The Cleveland Browns have a QB battle that will occur in training camp. Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield will most likely battle it out in camp to see who the starting QB is for the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Head coach Hugh Jackson has already said that Tyrod Taylor is their guy but if Mayfield can have a great training camp and thrive in the preseason with the playing time he gets then it could be an intriguing decision. Saying that Tyrod gets the nod for the starting job. I would think that the leash is sorta short and if things start to spiral downwards then you might see Mayfield get the call. If on the other hand that the Browns are in the playoff hunt for the year then Mayfield may not get the nod and have a year to sit back and learn the system and the NFL style for next season when he takes over as their franchise player.
Reason for Prediction
The reason for my 8 – 8 prediction for the Cleveland Browns. After going 1 – 31 in the last 2 seasons, the Browns made moves this offseason to get better and possibly compete. I think the Browns could go .500 this season which would be a huge jump for the franchise and for these players as well. The Browns are looking for something to build on and having these young pieces in place for the future could be promising. The Browns do have a tough schedule but with 6 of their first 10 games at home they could take advantage. The Browns have veterans who have been through the ups and downs before which could be huge for the young players.