Cleveland Browns 2020 Schedule and Predictions
Written by Sean Fitzgerald on May 10, 2020
Photo Credit: clevelandbrowns.com
Bring on the prognostication and horribly wrong predictions!
The 2020 Cleveland Browns schedule is out, and I have to say, this is a pretty good schedule that is balanced from what we know right now.
I won’t drag this out, but here are my 100%, totally correct, not-so-early Browns schedule predictions.
Also, a Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! We at Black Squirrel Radio couldn’t do the awesome stuff we do without you!
Week 1: At Baltimore
Ouch! Talk about doing the team no favors right out of the gate! The Ravens were the top seed in the AFC last year with a 14-2 record and MVP Lamar Jackson. The Ravens had a nearly flawless draft from the early returns and are poised for another big year.
Speaking of returns, Myles Garrett will finally be back on the field in this game. Garrett may be the X-factor in stopping Jackson with a healthy defensive line that can create pressure and maybe knock Jackson to the dirt without a suspension.
Even if the Browns come out looking like a real football team under Kevin Stefanski, I think this will be a loss for the opener, especially in Baltimore.
Browns record: 0-1
Week 2: Vs Cincinnati
The first of two prime-time matchups for the Browns comes at home versus the Bungals (Rules from the Where Things Stand: NFL Edition must continue here) and their new savior Joe Burrow in a Thursday night matchup.
The Browns win here without too much difficulty. While Joe Mixon is tough to stop, Burrow will only be in his second game as a pro. Having to run from Olivier Vernon, Larry Ogunjobi, Myles Garrett and company will be no easy task.
Unless Burrow is the next coming of Andrew Luck, this gets the Browns back up to .500 on the season.
Browns record: 1-1
Week 3: Vs Washington
Washington upgraded at head coach by bringing in Ron Rivera. Add Chase Young to this defense, and you’ll see some improvement. I’m hesitant to say more than that due to Dan Snyder sticking his head into this, but Rivera seems to have him out of the picture right now.
While Washington will hope to see an improved Dwayne Haskins in year two, they “lost” Trent Williams and the offensive line isn’t too impressive. Cleveland wins two in a row at home before going to Jerry’s World.
Browns Record: 2-1
Week 4: At Dallas
So, this game was a toss-up for me. On one hand, you see a hopefully improved Browns team exerting some dominance with two straight wins against weak opponents. What better time to make a statement than against the Cowboys, a team that vastly underperformed last year.
Dak Prescott currently looks to be playing on the franchise tag, which might be a motivator for him. Add Ezekiel Elliott with an uber-talented receiving corps in new $100 million dollar man Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup continuing his breakout 2019 and drafting CeeDee Lamb when he fell in their laps at pick No. 17, and this game spells trouble.
I think Dallas wins by a touchdown at least.
Browns Record: 2-2
Week 5: Vs Indianapolis
Look, Philip Rivers declined with a team filled with weapons and in win-now mode last season. He’s older. Period.
But, he does have T.Y. Hilton and some decent running backs, along with arguably the best offensive line in the game. Theoretically, he could put up some big numbers on the FirstEnergy scoreboard.
However, father time waits for no one, and Rivers’ age will show as the Browns give the home faithful three home wins to open the year.
Now what about the first road victory?
Browns record: 3-2
Week 6: At Pittsburgh
Remember when the Steelers didn’t have Ben Roethlisberger last year? He’ll likely be back for this matchup with JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner and some other toys to play with.
However, I have never heard of a quarterback having Tommy John Surgery in his late 30’s and performing at a high level. It’d be different if he was a young pitcher in Major League Baseball like Stephen Strausburg, Carlos Carrasco, Patrick Corbin and Jacob deGrom, among others.
This will be a hard-fought game like the infamous Mason Rudolph helmet game from last year, but my gut tells me Myles Garrett won’t be suspended for this game or after it. All in all, Pittsburgh becomes the first away game casualty of the 2020 campaign.
Browns record: 4-2
Week 7: At Cincinnati
Joe Burrow will have some more experience operating the Bungals offense, but what I said for the Week 2 matchup stands here as well, even with a healthy A.J. Green.
Browns record: 5-2
Week 8: Vs Las Vegas
I almost called them Oakland before publishing this. The Las Vegas Raiders are going to take a while to get used to.
The Raiders are an interesting team. This is a make-or-break year for Derek Carr who has Josh Jacobs ready to run through defenses, a tight end in Darren Waller who is fairly reliable, and some serious speed now at wide-receiver with Henry Ruggs III.
The Raiders also signed Marcus Mariota as a highly capable backup. While I don’t think Jon Gruden will turn to the former Oregon and Tennessee signal-caller, I wonder if this could be the game Gruden tires of Carr after a slow start and opens the door to a change at quarterback.
As much praise as I’ve heaped on the Raiders, the Browns are the better team, and I’ll take them by 10 points here.
Browns record: 6-2
Week 9: Bye Week
Week 10: Vs Houston
Bill O’Brien. Anyone who follows football closely will cringe at the name. Trading away All-Pro wideout DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson, a former star running back who has been beleaguered by injuries since his huge 2016 campaign.
Add insult to injury for Texans fans, they didn’t get a first-round pick back in this trade! This return is confounding after seeing what Buffalo gave up for Stefon Diggs (who is not on the level of Hopkins)!!
This does not bode well for Deshaun Watson, especially when you are relying on Will Fuller to stay healthy (although he is very good when he is), and signing an old Randall Cobb to a three-year deal worth too much money.
Watson will keep the Texans in this game until the end but will ultimately fall short to a much better coached Browns defense in Cleveland.
Hey, a five game winning streak!! The last time that happened was 1994 when Bill Belicheck coached the old Browns to the playoffs.
Browns record: 7-2
Week 11: Vs Philadelphia
This totally isn’t to appease my main editor and BSR-residence Eagles fan Brandon Lewis (it’s not). I just think the Eagles will be a tough, late-season opponent.
I know Jaelon Raegor is a question mark with good speed, but a healthy Carson Wentz and even a decent improvement in the receiver room will be enough to beat the Browns.
Plus, I think the Eagles can perform well defensively, but that only happens if they aren’t injured to hell at every position like Atlanta was the last few years.
Browns Record: 7-3
Week 12: At Jacksonville
Minshew Mania baby! I can’t help myself!
Anyway, Gardner Minshew will have a lot to prove. He will have Leonard Fournette, D.J. Chark and a few other weapons. His performance in 2020 could be a memorandum on his viability as a long-term quarterback solution.
However, the vaunted defense from 2017 is no more, and that means more explosive plays from the Browns (I’ll go ahead and call Nick Chubb running away with this game) and the Browns down the Jags in the sunshine state.
Browns record: 8-3
Week 13: At Tennessee
Do I believe the Titans continue to improve with Ryan Tannehill who got PAID big bucks and Derrick Henry remains an unstoppable bowling ball versus NFL defenses again?
That is tough to answer.
I have been going back and forth on this game, but what killed the Browns last year were the penalties, a lack of discipline and Freddie Kitchens being the head coach.
Plus, the Titans have a 9-7 win-loss quota they have to fulfill (a theme tracked in the Where Things Stand: NFL Edition).
In all seriousness, this may be the mystery game of the year right here, but I feel confident Baker Mayfield has a good game, and the Browns front seven can bend, but not break.
Browns record: 9-3
Week 14: Vs Baltimore
The second of the Browns home prime-time games is against the Ravens on Monday Night Football. Let’s try to forget what happened the last time the Browns were on MNF at home against Baltimore (the Kick Six game)!
I want to believe defenses around the league will have found some way to slow down Lamar Jackson by now. I also believe J.K. Dobbins will turn into a monster with Jackson and him sharing the same backfield.
However, with better coaching (see a trend here?) and a better team, the Browns will make this a brutal, slow, tough battle for 60 minutes.
The key to this game is whether you contain Jackson or not. The fact this is in Cleveland with the Browns holding a 9-3 record (based off my prognostication) and this would likely have huge ramifications for whoever ends up winning the AFC North. With a potential a first-round bye at stake (depending on what the Chiefs do), the noise will be suffocating in that fourth quarter.
The Browns win here by a field goal. This will be closer than people anticipate.
Browns record: 10-3
Week 15: At New York Giants
This is basically the same situation Washington is in, with Big Blue hoping for big strides from Daniel Jones and a healthy Saquon Barkley.
I do not think the rebuilding Giants will have enough manpower on defense to stop all of Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Kareem Hunt, David Njoku and Austin Hooper.
This is a blowout win for the Browns. Odell probably gets eight catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns as revenge against Dave Gettleman.
Browns record: 11-3
Week 16: At New York Jets
So, let me explain before there is confusion here. Prior to the schedule release, the Browns’ Twitter released the schedule without the times and this game was listed as either a Saturday or Sunday game on December 26 or December 27.
However, if you look at ESPN’s schedule for the Browns, you’ll see this game scheduled for Sunday the 27th. Plus there has not been an announced game start, so this matchup may not be fully solidified until a week or two beforehand.
Anywho, this could be a big year for Sam Darnold, the guy taken two picks after Baker Mayfield. While I think Darnold plays well in his third season, I do not believe in Adam Gase. You need to show me that Le’Veon Bell can be a factor here too, which is uncertain.
I don’t see the Browns losing this, and I think this is the nail in the coffin for Adam Gase in New York. I can’t wait to see how wrong/right I was about this come Christmas.
Browns Record: 12-3
Week 17: Vs Pittsburgh
Depending on tiebreakers, this could be a game the Browns look to clinch a first-round bye and not have to play three games to reach the Super Bowl and also for the division!
However, after back-to-back weeks in the Big Apple and some impressive wins on the docket, I think the Steelers will play spoiler here and eke out a win in a kicking battle with both teams employing strong run games that will get stuffed.
This loss probably takes the Browns out of the running for the first-round bye, but they could still edge Baltimore for the division.
Browns Record: 12-4
Looking at this schedule, it actually appears to be fairly easy with a lot of bad teams and teams with big question marks, or that performed better than expected with expected regression.
If what we’ve seen since Stefanski and General Manager Andrew Berry were hired, I’d say the Browns look to have a good chance of winning the AFC North and clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2002.
This showing would also represent their first potential divisional title since 1989 and third winning season since the rebirth of the franchise in 1999 (2002 and 2007).
I may be a tad optimistic, and this is an overly rosy set of predictions here for some folks. But hey, just as I said above, bring on the prognostication and horribly wrong predictions!!
Sean Fitzgerald is a member of the Black Squirrel Radio Sports Department and a Sports Coordinator. Follow him on Twitter @fitzonsportsbsr