It was fairly easy to find the Cleveland Browns in the various NFL power rankings from 2016 though the midway point of the 2018 season.
Under former head coach Hue Jackson, the Browns were routinely at or near the bottom of the rankings on a weekly basis.
But times have changed since general manager John Dorsey told Jackson that his services were no longer needed. Remove the worst head coach in NFL history, add in a few more talented players, and suddenly Browns fans have to actually look closely to see where the team sits.
No. 9 (previous rank: No. 16) - The only thing in greater abundance than the talent up and down the Browns’ roster is the pressure mounting on Freddie Kitchens. Forget about the normal burden facing rookie head coaches -- Kitchens might be shouldering heavier expectations than any front man in pro football. Consider: Cleveland went 5-3 under interim coach Gregg Williams, wrapping with a narrow loss on the season’s final day. No franchise contributed more frenzy to the Free Agency Frenzy formula than the Browns did when they hatched the blockbuster acquisitions of Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and defensive end Olivier Vernon, while also signing DT Sheldon Richardson. Kitchens, who served as offensive coordinator for much of 2018, is an in-house hire, which is good in that the nucleus is familiar with him. Not so good if this new-look group gets housed a couple times early in the season, like olden times.
For those keeping score at home, the Browns are in front of AFC North Division rivals the Baltimore Ravens (No. 15), Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 18) and Cincinnati Bengals (No. 29) - hello playoffs! - and are behind just four teams in the AFC - the New England Patriots (No. 1), Los Angeles Chargers (No. 4), Indianapolis Colts (No. 5) and Kansas City Chiefs (No. 6).