The 2020 season may be unlike any the NFL has seen since World War II. Many clubs during that time simply didn’t have enough players left to fill a roster. The Cleveland Rams closed shop for a full season. Other teams merged into one squad in order to compete. Many coaches and even owners joined the war effort and abandoned their clubs.
But, this virus situation is similar - but different. The war on coronavirus is nowhere comparable to a war against humanity and conflict.
Will the NFL play a full season? Will fans be allowed to attend games in the beginning or at any point during the season? If stadiums are allowed 50% occupancy, who will be allowed to buy tickets? Just season ticket holders? And if so, what type of system will be devised to determine who can see a game live, and who can’t?
The good news is it is still early. Hopefully, most of these questions will become quite clear once training camps burst into full swing in July and the regular season looms.
Here at DBN, we want to predict what type of year Cleveland should have. Last year at this juncture, a division title plus a playoff bid was a given; while a Super Bowl appearance wasn’t out of the question according to some media sources. All of the Browns faithful know the end of that storyline.
Let’s take a peak at what the DBN writers think about this year’s roster and whether the franchise can finally break “The Wasteland Years” cycle and secure a winning record.
The most difficult position regarding predictions is that you cannot anticipate with your heart.
Seven months from now, will this be a fun ride? Or just like last year, will the outcome become the inevitable realization of another bad season with the latest version of the newest head coach?
Week 1: September 13 - Browns @ Baltimore Ravens
I am not worried about the Ravens. The Browns actually matched up pretty well with them last year and I think despite the coaching change have a mentality that they aren’t scared of Baltimore. Ravens on the other hand had a full off-season of hearing how amazing they are, not to mention the “Madden Curse.” I think the Browns get started with a bang. Browns
This is a really tough opener, almost like when college football teams open the season against Army or Navy or some other triple option attack. Except this is the NFL, and we can’t just out-talent the Ravens like we are LSU or Ohio State. I thought they had an excellent draft, as well, and RB J.K .Dobbins is a tough match-up with QB Lamar Jackson going the other way on option runs. Pains me to say it, but we lose here. Ravens
Although the Browns handled the Ravens in their first game last season, Baltimore lit up the second half of their schedule and simply manhandled opponents, including the Browns second match-up. Cleveland just did not have an answer for QB Lamar Jackson’s legs and shiftiness, and he killed them. Hard to imagine the Browns can come out of the gate with any sort of consistency with a new head coach, new playcaller, new system, new terminology and an offensive line that can be great, but great as the season’s continuity meld. Ravens
The Browns will carry one of the stranger streaks in NFL history into their season opener against the Baltimore Ravens. Since returning to the NFL in 1999, the Browns have only won once on the first weekend of the season. That game, interestingly enough, came against the Ravens. In addition, as “dominant” as the Ravens have allegedly been the past two seasons, the Browns have managed to split their past four games against the Ravens. If this was a normal off-season for the Browns, we would actually like their changes to pick up a win here, but given the lack of practice time they will have under new head coach Kevin Stefanski, that second opening weekend victory will have to wait for another year. Ravens
Week 2: September 17 (Thursday) - Cincinnati Bengals @ Browns
I’m not as high on Cincinnati QB Joe Burrow as many are. He had an exceptional year at LSU, and I will always root for a guy who was developed under Ryan Day at Ohio State. Their receivers are honestly scary now. However, Cincy is still not a good team, and we light up the scoreboard and take advantage of an inexperienced Burrow. Browns
You have to beat the teams you should beat, and the Bengals are lousy. Again, new head coach, new quarterback, new system, etc. The Browns should handle Cincy easily. Browns
The last time the Browns opened the home portion of their schedule on national television was in 1999, when they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a much different situation as the Browns will host the Cincinnati Bengals for a Thursday night game. The Browns will make life difficult for rookie quarterback Joe Burrow on a short week and pick up the win. Browns
Thursday night with the battle of Ohio. QB Joe Burrow looks good but the Browns maul him with the DL and the ground game goes wild. RB Nick Chubb flirts with 200 yards and the Browns roll. Browns
Week 3: September 27 - Washington Redskins @ Browns
The quarterback situation in Washington remains unresolved which will factor in. The Redskins last season were one of the worst offenses in the league with a very porous O-Line. Washington is a very good run stuffing team which should once again be the Browns’ strength, so that will be the story line for this game. Browns
The Browns have owned the Washington Redskins since their very first meeting on November 19, 1950, and have posted a .728 winning percentage against Washington, the second-best mark against a current NFL team in franchise history. The Redskins have question marks at head coach and quarterback, so the Browns should be able to continue their domination of Washington with their second consecutive home win. Browns
First chance of a let down? Not likely. Browns have a bit of a sloppy first half with the extended break but snap out of it before half to take the lead. Second half is all Browns. Browns
I think we win this one going away. QB Baker Mayfield lights up the scoreboard, I like Redskins’ head coach Ron Rivera, but we’ll just be too much. Browns
Week 4: October 4 - Browns @ Dallas Cowboys
Cleveland starts a stretch where they will play three road games out of the next four with a visit to the Dallas Cowboys, who made the move to head coach Mike McCarthy in the off-season. The Browns do not often play in Dallas - this will be just their seventh visit since 1969 - and despite McCarthy’s shortcomings, this Cowboys team has the type of rushing offense (fifth in yards last season) that perpetually gives the Browns fits. A loss to the Cowboys evens out the Browns record at 2-2. Cowboys
A battle of undefeated teams possibly? Doesn’t matter. QB Baker Mayfield returns to his old haunt of the Southwest and goes nuts. CB Denzel Ward has a big INT that turns the tide as Baker finishes with 5 TDs. Browns
I like the Cowboys’ offense, but we can score on them. WR CeeDee Lamb adds another dimension to their offense, but I think we see a real statement game from Baker with a lot of Oklahoma University fans in the crowd, and the Cowboys’ OL isn’t what it once was. Still, in the end RB Zeke Elliott and the rest of the weapons they have are too much for our defense. Cowboys
If anyone can get something out of that Dallas offense, it is new head coach Mike McCarthy. The Cowboys’ offensive line isn’t a premier unit like in recent years but still can handle the job, and with the addition of WR CeeDee Lamb, that receiving corp will be second to none. Who do you double-cover? How will the Browns defensive backfield match-up against those receivers? And Dallas may have a home-field advantage even if the league institutes half-houses. That stadium holds 105,000, so a boisterous crowd of 50,000 may be the largest all season. Cowboys
Week 5: October 11 - Indianapolis Colts @ Browns
Browns get out to a big lead early in this one but as QB Philly Rivers does, he gets hot late bringing the Colts to within a score. The final drive ends with a Rivers INT and the Browns get the closer than expected win. Browns
Browns win this one going away. I think WR Michael Pittman was a great choice in the draft, but give me our guys. DE Myles Garrett racks up 2+ sacks in an easy W, and running the ball so much in the 2nd half results in two Cleveland backs with over 125 yards. Browns
This should be a good ballgame and could go either way. The Colts are in the best division in the NFL along with the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans. Indianapolis has an issue with stopping the run, but this franchise had a terrific off-season signing needed free agents and their draft was sterling. They look like a very good ballclub this year. I can see Cleveland controlling this game if the offensive line can gel, but in the end it’s another close loss. Colts
The Browns return home to face the Indianapolis Colts and their new quarterback, Philip Rivers. Cleveland has struggled against Rivers over the years, allowing a quarterback rating of 98.8 while losing five of the seven times they have met up. Both of those wins have come in Cleveland, however, and the Browns will make it three with a close win over the Colts. Browns
Week 6: October 18 - Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Even with QB Ben Roethlisberger back, Pittsburgh is bad. We are finally able to block the edges and blow them out as a result. Browns
I couldn’t agree more. I see a Browns sweep of the Steelers this year, which should have happened last year. Steelers are very good against the pass so the Cleveland offense will need to stick to the run. Pittsburgh is also vulnerable against tight ends, so that is a huge plus in the Browns playbook and expect to see big yards in this area. Browns
The Browns are back on the road to face the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns have not won in Pittsburgh since 2003 and have only won twice against the Steelers on the road since 1989. Sadly, the Browns are not winning today. Steelers
Looked like a tough game at the start of the year but an injury to Big Ben once again has QB Mason Rudolph facing off against Myles Garrett and the Browns’ defense. This time Myles keeps all his gear on and has four sacks. Rudolph started it. The game that is. Browns
Week 7: October 25 - Browns @ Bengals
Barry Shuck: QB Baker Mayfield should be having a pretty good season by now, and the Bungals aren’t going to stand in his way. With seven games as a unit, the offensive line is doing their job and RB Nick Chubb is having a first-half rushing leader year. This one won’t be close. Browns
Cleveland closes out the season series with the Bengals during a visit to Cincinnati. The Browns are never going to make any headway until they start taking care of business within the division, and they signal their intent this week with a win over the Bengals for a season sweep. Browns
Browns sleep walk their way through the first three quarters leading to sports talk show host Colin Cowherd to take to twitter before the fourth quarter naming QB Baker Mayfield as the fifth best QB in the AFC North and says the Browns should turn to QB Case Keenum if they want to save their season. Baker answers with two fourth quarter TDs and no post-game tweets. Browns
No disrespect to QB Joe Burrow, but they had the #1 pick to draft him for a reason. They aren’t that good. I just don’t think this team can hang with us in 2020. Browns
Week 8: November 1 - Las Vegas Raiders @ Browns
As long as Jon Gruden is head coach, it is difficult to take the Las Vegas Raiders seriously. The Browns pick up their fourth win in the past five home meetings against the Raiders to head into the bye week on a high. Browns
Browns don’t have a repeat from the previous week as they come out of the gates flying against Chucky and the Raiders. Newly named starting QB Marcus Mariota can’t get on track against the Browns defense. S Brad Delpit has his first career pick six in the laughter as the Browns head into the bye. Browns
I liked what the Raiders did in the draft, I’m just not sure I believe in QB Derek Carr. I’m reasonably sure that I don’t believe in that defense. (Side note: I would love to see a WR Henry Ruggs vs CB Denzel Ward match-up). Browns
The Raiders have a good running game, but little else on offense although they had a great draft as Clemson West. Last season they couldn’t stop the pass and gave up almost four yards per rushing attempt. Expect a huge game for RB Nick Chubb while the O-Line will have whispers about how good these guys really are. Browns
Week 9: Bye
DBN writers predicted win-loss record at mid-season:
Matt Wood: 8-0-0
Barry Shuck: 5-3-0
Thomas Moore: 5-3-0
Next up: Games 9 – 16. Will the Browns break the curse of the “Wasteland Years” and finally make a post-season run? Stay tuned.
Do you agree with the DBN writer’s predictions?
This poll is closed
Yes. The first half should have plus results in the win column
No sir, I don’t like it