Implications of Game 17 for the Cleveland Browns

Implications of Game 17 for the Cleveland Browns

Nick Pedone
3 years ago
4 min read
Implications of Game 17 for the Cleveland Browns

 Football is popular. We all know this, and the NFL does, too.

To put it quite simply, we cannot get enough football. We saw games every day of the week last season and no one complained. Football seems to be gaining traction without concern of reaching any form of a saturation point. For that reason, it made sense to add an additional game to the schedule. It had been talked about for several seasons. It was bound to happen, yet it feels like a victory for fans in some ways.

Keeping 20 Games

We feel like we are getting more football, yet the total number of games played will be 20, a consistent number since 1961. 

In 1961, the NFL elected to go to a balanced 14 game season to keep pace with the rival AFL. Teams played four to six preseason games at that time. Owners voted to expand to a 16-game schedule leading up to the 1978 season. They also reduced the preseason from six games to four. In 2021, there will be 17 regular season games and three preseason games.

If you take preseason games into account, we have not added football games, other than the number of weekly games due to expansion, since 1961.

The win for fans lies in the extension of the regular season and the reduction in preseason games. Preseason games lost their luster long ago. There is certainly some appeal to seeing fringe players fight for their football lives. However, most of us want to see starters in meaningful games. That is not what the preseason is now. Players with guaranteed jobs play extremely limited snaps in these games. It makes sense in every way, but it makes the games less than enticing.  

An extra game tacked onto the end of the regular season is a dream come true for fans. The football season comes and goes far too quickly. Adding a week to the schedule is a great start for diehard fans.

How Does Game No. 17 Change Strategy?

The reality of that season finale may in fact turn out to be a game less palatable than a fourth preseason game. Of course, a few teams will be playing for a playoff berth. Others will be resting players in preparation for the playoffs. Finally, some teams will be auditioning backups for next season as they close the books on a bad season.

In Cleveland, the Browns will take their chances. The seventeenth game that was added is a ninth home game against the Arizona Cardinals that will be played week six. The Browns hope to be in the thick of the playoff race at the end of the season. If things go well, they may be resting players Week 18 at home against the Bengals on what is likely to be a frigid Sunday in January.

The Browns benefit from the opportunity to play an extra home game this season. The depth of the Browns roster across the board is also key when you endeavor to make it through a longer season and hopefully playoff games. The roster is far from set, yet the talent is undeniable and holes even among backups seem to be few. This is a team that is being built to survive a marathon.

Breaking Browns Records

A longer season will allow players to pursue loftier statistics. This is a possibility that should be exciting for Browns fans. The regular season will be six percent longer in 2021. Some team records and milestones may be easier to reach with an extra game. 

Myles Garrett should be able to add to his single season best of 13.5 sacks in 2018. The Browns team record is 14 sacks by Reggie Camp in 1984. It was the only time Camp eclipsed 8.5 sacks in his career. The NFL record is 22.5 by Michael Strahan in 1982. Myles will not be the only player in the league eyeing that record this season. 

Let’s give Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt a second season in this offense along with a better defense and an extra game and see if they can each gain 1,000 yards a la Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack in 1985. You have to like their chances. 

Baker Mayfield may not lead the league in TD passes, but he will have a chance to break the Browns single season mark of 30 set by Brian Sipe in 1980. Baker has averaged 25 per season in three seasons. This record must be the oldest such record for any team and that should change this season.  

We know the records are the icing on the cake for a good season. They would have no meaning if the team were to disappoint. They are something to keep our eye on while we enjoy this historic first 17 game season.

It is one that is sure to be memorable in Cleveland.  

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