CBS Sports - No. 6 (up 2 spots)
They have nine victories, which puts Kevin Stefanski in the Coach of the Year conversation. Now they face a real prove-it game with the Ravens.
ESPN - No. 8 (up 4 spots)
Mayfield has the chance to do what no quarterback in Cleveland has done in 18 years: lead the Browns to the playoffs. After a rough start to the campaign, Mayfield has been spectacular in recent weeks. As a result, Cleveland is in position to snap the NFL’s longest playoff drought. Beyond that, though, Mayfield can solidify his standing as Cleveland’s franchise quarterback in the coming weeks, which most certainly would prompt the Browns to pick up his fifth-year option — and, potentially, strongly consider giving him a lucrative extension in the offseason.
NFL.com - No. 8 (up 5 spots)
It’s time to start believing in the Cleveland Browns. Baker Mayfield threw four touchdown passes — all of them in a flawless first half — in a 41-35 win over the Titans that announced Cleveland as a legitimate player in the AFC. Could the Browns have done a better job closing out a game that was 38-7 at halftime? Sure ... but that’s a minor quibble for an organization that has put the misery of the previous decade firmly in its rearview. Mayfield is a fascinating figure as we head down the stretch of this bizarre season. When he is playing with confidence, he can shred defenses with precision strikes, both short and long. He’s not always that guy, but if he ever put together an extended hot streak, the Browns would become the proverbial Team Nobody Wants To Play™.
Sporting News - No. 6 (up 2 spots)
The Browns have got their passing revved up with Baker Mayfield and a healthy Jarvis Landry to better supplement the running game. The defense still is an issue, but the run stopping gives it a strong baseline.
Yahoo Sports - No. 6 (up 2 spots)
Does it feel like the Browns are the sixth-best team in the NFL? Maybe not. At some point, they’re 9-3 and coming off a win over a good Titans team that was a lot more of a blowout than the final score would indicate. It’s tough to trust any team this season outside of the top two or three. You need six teams to fill out a top six.
Bleacher Report - No. 6 (up 4 spots)
The Cleveland Browns were rather the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL entering Week 13. Yes, they were 8-3, but they were 7-0 against losing teams and 1-3 against winning ones. Given their long history of futility, there was a possibility the Browns were overrated. Sunday’s win over a very good Titans team should address at least some of those criticisms. Yes, the Browns took their foot off the gas and let Tennessee back into the game in the second half. But this was a game in which Cleveland set a franchise record for the most points ever scored in the first half. And a game in which Baker Mayfield topped 300 passing yards and threw four touchdown passes in a half for the second time this season.
“I’m still not entirely sold on the Browns as a contender,” Davenport said. “The defense isn’t great, and the secondary was shredded in the second half by the Titans. But the Browns can run the ball as well as any team in the NFL. They can get after the quarterback with Myles Garrett. And as they showed emphatically in the first half, when Mayfield is playing well, they can hang with just about any team in the NFL.”
If Cleveland can avenge a blowout season-opening loss to the Ravens next Monday night, it’s going to be a lot easier to look at it as a legitimate threat in the AFC. And there’s a sentence you don’t see every day.
Associated Press - No. 7 (up 4 spots)
Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.