CBS Sports - No. 13 (up 1 spot)
Winning with a backup quarterback is always a challenge, but they met it head on last Thursday. Now comes a key division game with the Steelers.
ESPN - No. 12 (no change)
Injuries have played a major part in why Mayfield and Beckham have yet to find any groove together this season. Mayfield is currently nursing a left shoulder injury, while Beckham sat the first two games following last year’s season-ending knee injury. Still, the two are just not in sync, from a wide-open miss from Mayfield in Minnesota to a fourth-down drop by OBJ in Los Angeles. Time is running out on the two to figure it out.
NFL.com - No. 13 (no change)
The Browns probably have quality NFL running backs stuck between couch cushions at team headquarters. Third-stringer D’Ernest Johnson stepped up on Thursday night, rushing for 146 yards and a touchdown in a 17-14 win over the Broncos. The shifty back should remain in the mix even when Nick Chubb returns to the lineup. Meanwhile, Case Keenum got the victory in his first start in Cleveland — could Keenum make the, um, case to stay in the lineup if he thrives in another start? Kevin Stefanski is a big fan of the veteran, a fact undoubtedly on Baker Mayfield’s mind as the starter is sidelined with a seriously fouled-up left shoulder.
Sporting News - No. 12 (up 1 spot)
The Browns impressed with their gritty defensive-minded victory over the Broncos on Thursday night, fueled by supersub running back D’Ernest Johnson and guided by QB Case Keenum. They hope to be a lot healthier coming off the mini-bye before facing the Steelers on Halloween.
Yahoo Sports - No. 14 (down 3 spots)
Even though the Browns won without Baker Mayfield in Week 7, they don’t want to be without him too long. It’s worth wondering if they think they can win without Mayfield this week against Pittsburgh, then perhaps bring him back for what is suddenly a big Week 9 game at Cincinnati. That assumes Mayfield is healthy enough by then that it’s an option.
The good news for the Browns is that thanks to 168 total yards and a score from running back D’Ernest Johnson, they were able to gut out a win over the Broncos to get to 4-3 on the season. That’s about the extent of the good news. Injuries are a fact of life in the NFL, but it has gotten ridiculous in Cleveland.
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are both out with calf injuries. Case Keenum started at quarterback because Baker Mayfield’s left shoulder has a fractured humerus bone and a torn labrum. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was in and out of the game with a bad shoulder of his own. In Jarvis Landry’s first game back from a stint on injured reserve, he injured his knee—again. Top cornerback Denzel Ward exited with a bad hamstring. Edge-rusher Myles Garrett spontaneously combusted. OK, that last one didn’t happened. But all of the injuries are just too much for one of our analysts.
“A few years ago, the Browns would have completely collapsed under the weight of these injuries,” Davenport said. “The guts this team showed Thursday is admirable. But these Browns aren’t going to win the AFC North. At this point, making the playoffs at all would be a feat.”
“I’m not giving up on the Browns,” Gagnon countered. “That wasn’t a pretty showing Thursday, but it was mainly because of all their injuries. Beating a decent Broncos team on short rest under those circumstances was important. It might have even been a turning point for a team that, when healthy, has the talent to win the Super Bowl.”
USA Today - No. 14 (down 2 spots)
Don’t forget Kevin Stefanski was Case Keenum’s quarterback coach in Minnesota in 2017, when the Vikings won the division and reached the NFC title round. This just might work...
Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.