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The Browns had an historic season in 2020, making the playoffs and winning a game for the first time in 26 years. They did it in one of the league’s toughest divisions and if they repeat they will have to deal with that again. Management went out and tried to address their needs and improve in the areas that were shaky. They have a born leader at quarterback in Baker Mayfield and are entertaining. Things are good on the banks of Lake Erie.
As mentioned, Mayfield is a leader and his teammates like him and believe in him. He threw for 3563 yards and 26 touchdowns and got better with each game. The running back combo of Nick Chubb (1067 yards and 12 TDs) and Kareem Hunt (841 yards and 6 TDs) are arguably the best in the NFL. Jarvis Landry caught 72 balls for 840 yards in 2020 and TE, Austin Hooper is developing into a go-to guy. The wildcard in the bunch is Odell Beckham who is back from an injury and wasn’t playing when the Browns started their push to the playoffs. A lot of people think he is a chemistry problem (I’m one of them), and he could upset the balance that they have. The offensive line was much improved in 2020 and that had as much as anything to do with the improved play.
Upfront, they are led by Myles Garrett. The Browns signed Jadeveon Clowney and Takk McKinley in the offseason to play on the opposite side of Garrett and help free him up. The linebackers are a potential problem area and leading tackler B.J. Goodson is gone. They signed Anthony Walker and are hoping 2nd year linebacker, Jacob Phillips develops into a playmaker. In the secondary, they nabbed John Johnson III and Troy Hill from the Rams top-rated defense of a year ago. They know the secondary has to be better to handle the great quarterbacks in the AFC.
Must Wins: Houston, Chicago, Arizona, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Cincinnati, at LA Chargers, at Cincinnati
Toss-Up Games: Pittsburgh, Baltimore, at New England, at Pittsburgh
Probable Losses: at Kansas City, at Minnesota, at Baltimore, at Green Bay
Summary in Two Sentences: Cleveland is a team on the rise and have become popular among a lot of new fans in the country. They have a lot to like with their line-up and the question will be how well can they stand up to the added pressure of being the hunted?
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