CBS Sports - No. 15 (up 2 spots)
So much for all the talk of how they would have issues without Odell Beckham Jr. They blew through the Bengals as an offense, using the ground game to do so.
ESPN - No. 10 (up 6 spots)
Bold second-half prediction: Myles Garrett will win the Defensive Player of the Year.
Garrett has been among the NFL’s most dominant players these past few seasons only to be derailed in November. Last season it was from contracting COVID-19. The season before, it was the helmet swing resulting in a season-ending suspension. This time around, Garrett — who leads the league with 12 sacks — will only surge down the stretch and finish as the NFL’s sack champion — giving Cleveland its first-ever Defensive Player of the Year.
NFL.com - No. 10 (up 6 spots)
The Browns will not miss Odell Beckham Jr.. Cleveland’s offense looked just fine without its No. 1 wide receiver who was never a No. 1 receiver at all — scoring early and often in a 41-16 win over the Bengals. Nick Chubb’s 70-yard TD rumble in the third quarter served as the knockout blow, but the win also featured a strong performance from Baker Mayfield, a solid starter who was unfairly maligned during Beckham’s apparent smear campaign-by-proxy on the way out the door. It’s been an up-and-down season for the Browns, but this remains a talented, well-coached team capable of ripping off a big run.
Sporting News - No. 12 (up 4 spots)
The Browns played like the Browns one thought could be in 2021 with their running game churning with Nick Chubb, the passing game dealing with Baker Mayfield and the defense cleaning up for them wire to wire. They might be ready for another big second half.
Yahoo Sports - No. 13 (up 4 spots)
Worth repeating: Donovan Peoples-Jones, who had a 60-yard touchdown Sunday, has been a better receiver than Odell Beckham Jr. this season. Just getting Beckham off the field so Peoples-Jones can get more snaps will make the offense better, as crazy as that seems.
It was an eventful week in Cleveland, with the Odell Beckham Jr. saga concluding with the mercurial wide receiver’s release. That Cleveland’s first game without Beckham was easily the team’s best performance of the season would seem to indicate the team made the right play.
The Browns scored as many points Sunday in Cincinnati as they did in Weeks 6, 7 and 8 combined. Running back Nick Chubb gashed the Bengals for 137 yards and two touchdowns despite carrying the ball just 14 times. Quarterback Baker Mayfield quietly completed two-thirds of his pass attempts, threw two touchdown passes and finished with a passer rating of 132.6.
The defense held up its end too. Edge-rusher Myles Garrett continued to bolster his case for Defensive Player of the Year honors, adding 1.5 sacks to his league-leading total. Cleveland forced three turnovers, with cornerback Denzel Ward returning a Joe Burrow interception 99 yards for a touchdown.
“Why the Browns play better without Beckham than with him is one of life’s great mysteries,” Davenport said. “But they do. Sunday’s blowout win was Cleveland’s best effort of the year on both sides of the ball, but things don’t get any easier from here. Week 10 brings another tough matchup with considerable playoff ramifications when the Browns head to Foxborough to face the 5-4 Patriots.”
“I’m not quite ready to give up on the Browns, who smartly moved on from Beckham and then lit up an improved division rival on the road,” Gagnon added. “Chubb is healthy and killing it again, and I wonder if Mayfield is in for a strong second half for the second year in a row.”
USA Today - No. 13 (up 3 spots)
It had been 54 years since a team recorded a rushing, passing and defensive TD of at least 60 yards in the same game. Cleveland did it Sunday – and didn’t need departing WR Odell Beckham Jr. to score any of them. Sometimes, less is more.
Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.