CBS Sports - No. 10 (up 1 spot)
Kevin Stefanski has done an outstanding job turning this team around. Baker Mayfield is playing well with the running game clicking.
ESPN - No. 9 (up 2 spots)
The Browns boast one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. The anchor of that unit remains the ever-reliable Bitonio, who is on his way to a third consecutive Pro Bowl. Bitonio leads the NFL in pass block win rate among offensive guards and is in the top 10 for run block win rate as well. Unlike in recent seasons, he has more help up front, thanks to the offseason arrivals of tackles Jedrick Wills Jr. and Jack Conklin. As a result, Bitonio is proving that he can be the driving piece spearheading a dominant line.
NFL.com - No. 6 (up 3 spots)
You have to give the Browns credit: When a winnable game has presented itself on their schedule this season, they take care of business. It happened again on Sunday night in a smooth 20-6 victory over an undermanned Giants team that moved the Browns one step closer to their first playoff appearance since 2002. Baker Mayfield continued a recent run of strong play with another efficient performance, throwing for nearly 300 yards with two touchdown passes and zero turnovers. Mayfield’s rise has lifted the ceiling of this Browns team. They’re no longer winning games with their QB along for the ride — he’s become the leader of the offense. This locked-in version of Mayfield, paired with a killer running game, makes Cleveland truly, well, dangerous.
Sporting News - No. 7 (no change)
The Browns took care of the Giants as expected on Sunday night, a very important win knowing all the other AFC wild-card contenders one. Baker Mayfield has settled down well and their defense keeps overachieving at critical times.
Yahoo Sports - No. 9 (up 2 spots)
Baker Mayfield’s hot streak has been a great sign for Cleveland. It doesn’t seem like coincidence that Mayfield’s play has taken off since Odell Beckham Jr.’s season-ending injury. Perhaps once Mayfield stopped forcing the ball to Beckham, he saw more of the field.
Bleacher Report - No. 5 (up 1 spot)
After losing a wild, back-and-forth affair with the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14, Sunday night’s trip to New York was going to be one of two things for the Cleveland Browns: an opportunity for a rebound or an indictment that they were improved but not yet ready to take on the big dogs in the AFC. Beating a flawed Giants team doesn’t completely erase the doubts regarding the Browns. But the ease with which they handled the G-Men speaks well to the progress they have made.
“Two straight prime-time games showed exactly who the Browns now are: one of the league’s better teams,” Sobleski said. “Cleveland’s defense remains a major work in progress, but Baker Mayfield has played as well as any quarterback in recent weeks, and the Browns’ accompanying run game can shorten any contest. The Browns...*gasp*...are actually good, and a 10-4 record has them all but secure in their first playoff appearance in 18 years.”
With a victory next week against the one-win Jets, Cleveland can capture its first 11-win season since 1994. That just so happens to be the last year that the Browns won a playoff game.
Associated Press - No. 8 (up 2 spots)
Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.