Cleveland Browns: No Better Time Than Now To Win AFC North

Cleveland Browns: No Better Time Than Now To Win AFC North

Mac Blank
1 year ago
3 min read
Cleveland Browns defenders celebrate stop during game against Steelers

The offseason hype train is ramping up in Cleveland as the Browns had a very active offseason. They retained important pieces to last year’s team such as center Ethan Pocic and linebacker Anthony Walker Jr, but they also added new faces such a DT Dalvin Thomlinson and WR Elijah Moore. 

With vibrant new pieces and their franchise QB getting his sea legs back under him, the time is now for the Browns.

This, of course, sounds redundant as every NFL head coach has this as their first goal of the season, as this guarantees at least one home playoff game. If there was any time for this team to finally win the AFC North, it is this year. Not only is the roster loaded, but as the Browns roster is getting better, their opposing rivals are getting worse. 

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Bengals To Be Biggest Hurdle

Let’s start with the back to back AFC North Champs: the Cincinnati Bengals. Both of their starting safeties have now signed with other teams, so it’s hard to believe a team that was 23rd in passing yards given up will be better. This is crucial due the Browns adding more speed and talent to the WR room. 

On the other side of the ball, RB Samaje Perine also left and signed with another team. Normally a second string back wouldn’t be a big deal, but with starter Joe Mixon’s future up in the air due his recent legal trouble, as he was charged with aggravated menacing, it could be big. If they do decide to move on the team could save up to 20 million over the next two years by cutting Mixon and use the money to extend their franchise QB. 

Not having a consistent running game would make the Bengals offense one dimensional, making Joe Burrow’s job a lot harder.

Lamar Staying Or Leaving?

Moving on to Baltimore, this has been their most dysfunctional offseason to date. The weirdest story has been the failed negotiations of Lamar Jackson’s extension. The Ravens offered him the non-exclusive franchise tag and he’s yet to sign which means he will not be with the team during OTA’s. Jackson requested a trade on March 2nd, yet the team is still trying their best to retain him.

They even over-paid for star WR Odell Beckham Jr, but at this point in Beckham’s career he’s not the WR1 he once was. Even if Lamar somehow stays in Baltimore, it will be hard to gain chemistry with Beckham let alone learn the offense new offensive coordinator Todd Monken plans to implement in OTA’s. Expect no matter who’s under center, the offense will struggle to begin the season.

The Steelers

Lastly, we have the dreaded Pittsburgh Steelers. While this team defensively has been the same stout and hardnose group the Browns have faced for years, offensively they are a shell of their former self. Their starting QB in Kenny Pickett had the 33rd worse passer rating by a starting QB in the league last year, beating out only 2021 draft bust Zach Wilson. While Pickett is only entering his 2nd season, 7 TD’s and 9 Int’s through 13 games isn’t anything to hang your hat on.

 Not to mention he’ll be 25 by the time they kick off their first game next year, so it’s hard to say his ceiling is very high at this point. It also doesn’t help the only offensive weapon the team added was WR Allen Robinson, who has only averaged 34 yards a game the past 22 games of his career.

Do Or Die For Browns

In conclusion, everyone knows there’s two paths to the playoffs: win the division, or leave it up to the football gods and pray you have a better record than 9 other AFC teams. While it does seem forever ago, Stefanski’s group did show they can win a playoff game on the road. But why let other teams control your fate? 

With all this new stadium talk, wouldn’t it be great for Cleveland to finally host a playoff game? The last time the Browns even won the division, it was called the AFC Central. For once, it feels as if the AFC North is up for grabs, so why not win it for the first time in franchise history?

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