The NFL released the 2020 schedule on Thursday and it has a decidedly different look for the Cleveland Browns as compared to a year ago.
After a preponderance of nationally televised games last season, the Browns will head into the new season with just two primetime games on the schedule. That leaves Cleveland with an over abundance of 1 p.m. games, with a dozen currently slated for that early time slot.
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The Browns are ranked at No. 29 on the schedule ranking from “hardest” to “easiest,” according to The Sporting News, their opponents were a combined 118-138 last season, a .461 winning percentage. That holds true for everyone in the division, of course, as the Cincinnati Bengals (No. 27), Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 31) and Baltimore Ravens (No. 32) are all ranked near the bottom of the list, so take that for what it is worth.
Here are seven additional takeaways about the schedule.
The “ones who got away”
There is a certain segment of media members and fans who love to lament certain players the Browns did not draft or head coaches they did not hire.
Those storylines will once again be on full display this fall when the Browns face the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Houston Texans.
The Redskins (Sept. 27) and Cowboys (Oct. 4) hired Ron Rivera and Mike McCarthy, respectively, as their head coaches during the offseason. River and McCarthy are the type of veteran “name” coaches that people fixate on whenever the Browns conduct a coaching search, despite their obvious shortcomings.
The games against the Houston Texans (Nov. 15) and Philadelphia Eagles (Nov. 22) will also fire up the talk about how the Browns passed on drafting Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson and Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz. Of course, with the game against the Eagles coming later in the season, the Browns just might as easily be facing quarterback Jalen Hurts, given that Wentz has only played a full season twice in his four years.
The Browns will open the season on the road against the Baltimore Ravens, which presents a pair of tasks that the Browns have not been up to over the past two decades.
Cleveland is just 1-19-1 in their season-opening games since 1999 and are just 5-16 all-time against the Ravens in Baltimore.
But before anyone writes off the Browns too quickly, Cleveland has split its last four meetings with the Ravens. And that lone Week 1 win? It came against Baltimore in 2004.
Time to settle some old scores
The Browns and the rest of the AFC North will face the NFC East this season, and since those matchups only come around every four years, this presents Cleveland an opportunity to break some longstanding losing streaks.
Cleveland has not defeated the Cowboys or the Eagles since the 1994 season, they have not beaten the Redskins since 2004, and their last win against the Giants came in 2008.
We can add the AFC South into the payback column, as the Browns have not beaten the Texans since 2007, the Jaguars since 2011 and the Colts since 2011 - Cleveland’s only victory against Indianapolis since returning to the NFL in 1999.
The Browns head to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers on Oct. 18, which will be the first time that defensive end Myles Garrett will play the Steelers since the game last November that ended with Garrett’s six-game suspension.
The Browns have not won in Pittsburgh since 2003, so this would be a fitting time to end that particular streak.
Speaking of the Steelers ...
In what has to be one of the league’s odder scheduling quirks, the Browns and the Steelers will play in the season finale for the eighth time in the past 11 seasons.
New York, New York
The Browns will travel to New York (well, New Jersey) on consecutive weekends to take on the Giants (Dec. 20) and the New York Jets (Dec. 26 or Dec. 27). This will be the first time the Browns have played the Giants and Jets on the road in the same season since 1985.
The Browns lost to the Jets that season, 37-10, as the team fell apart in the second half with the offense being shutout while the defense allowed 20 points as the Jets pulled away.
The game against the Giants was a thrilling one, as the Browns rallied back from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Giants, 35-33, as Earnest Byner scored the game-winning touchdown on a nine-yard run.
Easy early ... difficult late?
After the Week 1 game against the Ravens, the Browns face a seven-game run against a group of teams that did not have a winning record last season.
Starting with the home opener on Sept. 17, the Browns will play the Bengals twice, the Redskins, Cowboys, Colts, Steelers and Ravens before hitting the bye week.
The schedule gets more difficult after the bye as the Browns will close out the season by playing four of their final six games on the road.