The NFL announced every team's schedule for the regular season on Tuesday. Despite the fact that additional prime time games were added to the schedule for 2012 (Thursday night games), the Cleveland Browns are only slated to be featured once in prime time: a Week 4 match-up with the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns' entire schedule, including some of my thoughts about it, are after the jump.
Cleveland Browns 2012 Regular Season Schedule
Week 1: Philadelphia at Cleveland (Sunday, 9/9) - 1:00 PM EST on FOX
Week 2: Cleveland at Cincinnati (Sunday, 9/16) - 1:00 PM EST on CBS
Week 3: Buffalo at Cleveland (Sunday, 9/23) - 1:00 PM EST on CBS
Week 4: Cleveland at Baltimore (Thursday, 9/27) - 8:20 PM EST on NFLN
Week 5: Cleveland at N.Y. (Sunday, 10/7) - 1:00 PM EST on CBS
Week 6: Cincinnati at Cleveland (Sunday, 10/14) - 1:00 PM EST on CBS
Week 7: Cleveland at Indianapolis (Sunday, 10/21) - 1:00 PM EST on CBS
Week 8: San Diego at Cleveland (Sunday, 10/28) - 1:00 PM EST on CBS
Week 9: Baltimore at Cleveland (Sunday, 11/4) - 1:00 PM EST on CBS
Week 10: Bye Week
Week 11: Cleveland at Dallas (Sunday, 11/18) - 1:00 PM EST on CBS
Week 12: Pittsburgh at Cleveland (Sunday, 11/25) - 1:00 PM EST on CBS
Week 13: Cleveland at Oakland (Sunday, 12/2) - 4:15 PM EST on CBS
Week 14: Kansas City at Cleveland (Sunday, 12/9) - 1:00 PM EST on CBS
Week 15: Washington at Cleveland (Sunday, 12/15) - 1:00 PM EST on FOX
Week 16: Cleveland at Denver (Sunday, 12/23) - 4:05 PM EST on CBS
Week 17: Cleveland at Pittsburgh (Sunday, 12/30) - 1:00 PM EST on CBS
- The division games are more spaced out this year, but the games against each team are clustered. The match-ups against Cincinnati come early on (Week 2 and Week 6). The match-ups against Baltimore come near the middle of the season (Week 4 and Week 9). The match-ups against Pittsburgh come late in the year (Week 12 and Week 17). So, when we face Pittsburgh for the first time, we will have already faced both of our other division rivals twice.
- There is pretty good balance in the schedule. There isn't a stretch in which the Browns have three or more consecutive road or home games; the max in both scenarios is two games.
- The only prime time game comes in Week 4 against Baltimore. That is a "let's get Cleveland's prime time game out of the way in a hurry so we can feature better teams later in the season" type of scheduling decision. I thought every team would have at least two prime time games, but not including flex scheduling, I guess I was wrong.
- Some of my most intriguing match-ups were ones against Kansas City (Romeo Crennel, Brian Daboll, Peyton Hillis), Washington (the Robert Griffin III situation), and Denver (Peyton Manning). All of those games are late in the season, unfortunately. In fact, they are back-to-back-to-back in Weeks 14-16.
- Cleveland takes on Andrew Luck in Week 7 in Indianapolis. That, along with the Browns' Week 3 home game against Buffalo, line up as the team's "easier" games, comparatively, in the first half of the season.
- The Bye Week comes in Week 10, about mid-season, which is fine by me. It'll be interesting to see if the Injured Reserve rule passes, and if so, if that creates a nice period for Cleveland to allow a player to return.
It's pretty silly to predict wins and losses this early in the year, but NFL.com's review of Cleveland's schedule really does a disservice to how well the Browns' defense played last year:
Let's play "Find the win so the Browns can avoid going 0-16." They'll be huge underdogs in every game they play against much more talented teams except for these two: an away tilt at Indianapolis in October, where Andrew Luck may have his sea legs under him; and a home game against the Redskins in mid-December. Cleveland could realistically be 0-13 headed into that one.
If Tom Heckert plays his cards right and is able to improve the talent on offense, 0-13 shouldn't even be in the conversation.