As you can see in the top graphic, the Browns’ success was voted as the top storyline of the 2018 NFL season. Here is a summary of how the Cleveland Browns are viewed across mainstream media outlets in NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 16.
CBS Sports - No. 16 (up 2 spots)
They are a young team growing up before our eyes. Whoever coaches this group in 2019 is a lucky man.
SB Nation - No. 16 (no change)
No, they’re not going to make the playoffs, but they probably are going to finish with seven, maybe eight wins. AND, they’re doing it with real swagger. It’s going to be fun to watch this team next season. The only thing that can dampen their hopes for 2019 is keeping Gregg Williams around.
NFL.com - No. 16 (up 3 spots)
Fantastic win for the Browns on Saturday night. So much to like, starting with Cleveland’s brief time with a slightly more realistic chance to make the playoffs (at least until the Steelers won the next day). When is the last time heading into Week 16 anyone was using the words “Browns” and “playoffs” in the same sentence? Try 2007. Although it doesn’t feel like it, that was 11 years ago. It’s been 25 years since Cleveland had a quarterback with the kind of swagger remotely comparable to Baker Mayfield. Well, Bernie Kosar’s swagger was having no swagger before efficiently Brian Brennan-ing your favorite team to death. (Which is having swagger. Obvi.) Mayfield was hardly solely responsible for this win, as the defense came up large in several spots, like on each of the Broncos’ final two forays. RB Nick Chubb pitched in with 100 yards rushing, including 53 on Cleveland’s final drive to salt away the game clock.
Back to Mayfield: The rookie was not spectacular against the Broncos, but, as per usual, he was stellar in the red zone. Mayfield went 3-for-3 with a touchdown pass, pushing his passer rating in the NFL’s version of the paint to 117.1. The only guy who sits higher on that chart is Drew Brees, at 117.3. Considering that is where the field is squished, and a place where even veteran quarterbacks press, Mayfield’s numbers as a rookie are uber-impressive.
MMQB - No. 16 (up 3 spots)
Yahoo Sports - No. 15 (no change)
Let’s just fast forward to the Dec. 31 news conference when GM John Dorsey is explaining how the Browns responded to Gregg Williams and that’s why he’s getting the full-time job, even though for the first time in forever the Browns will be the most attractive head-coaching opening in the league.
ESPN - No. 17 (up 3 spots)
Biggest breakthrough: Offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens. Kitchens has unlocked Baker Mayfield and the Browns’ offense since taking over as coordinator after eight games. Kitchens has adeptly called plays, using creative calls and formations to energize Nick Chubb, Mayfield and the offense. With Todd Haley and Hue Jackson, Mayfield was sacked 20 times and averaged 6.6 yards per pass. With Kitchens, Mayfield has been sacked five times and averaged 8.7 per pass. To think that most asked, “Who?” when Kitchens was made coordinator.
Associated Press - No. 16 (up 4 spots)
Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.