CBS Sports - No. 17 (down 4 spots)
At 4-4, this team is in last place in the division. That’s hard to believe considering the expectations before the season.
ESPN - No. 16 (down 4 spots)
Biggest Achilles’ heel: Passing attack
The Browns’ passing attack has fallen off a cliff, and it’s not just due to the injuries — even if they have been a major factor. Baker Mayfield, battling the torn labrum to his non-throwing shoulder, has been up and down, but he isn’t getting much help from his highly paid star receivers, either. Jarvis Landry had multiple drops late in the fourth quarter in the loss to Pittsburgh, along with a key fumble. Odell Beckham Jr., meanwhile, has become a total nonfactor. Cleveland’s passing game last season gradually got better. This season, it seems to be getting worse.
NFL.com - No. 16 (down 3 spots)
The Browns badly needed a playmaker to step up and win a huge game against the Steelers. Baker couldn’t do it. Landry couldn’t do it. Hooper couldn’t do it. Odell? C’mon now; we know Odell wouldn’t do it. The Browns have too often looked the part of an ordinary offense this season, and they’re especially vulnerable when Nick Chubb gets neutralized like he was by Pittsburgh’s stout front seven on Sunday. Mayfield’s left shoulder injury might be playing a role in the passing game’s general ineffectiveness, but Browns fans weren’t looking for excuses this year — they were expecting their team to become a conference superpower. It hasn’t happened.
Sporting News - No. 16 (down 4 spots)
The Browns got Baker Mayfield back but the offense wasn’t right again, not helped by facing a tough Steelers defense. If they can’t dominate with the running game, it can become very difficult for them to win games. Don’t blame the defense for holding down Pittsburgh.
Yahoo Sports - No. 17 (down 3 spots)
In six games this season, Odell Beckham Jr. has a minuscule 17-232-0 line. Donovan Peoples-Jones has been a better receiver for Cleveland. As my Sunday night podcast partner Charles Robinson pointed out, the Browns should trade OBJ but they’re very unlikely to find someone to take him. It’s amazing how bad this situation has gotten.
Two times in the last three years, the Cleveland Browns have been the offseason hype darlings of the NFL. Both times, the team hasn’t come close to living up to that hype. It’s not quite time to completely freak out in Cleveland. But after falling at home to the rival Steelers in Week 8, the Browns are 4-4 and all alone in the AFC North basement.
There’s not just one thing that can pointed to as the reason the Browns have disappointed. On Sunday, the team’s vaunted run game couldn’t get going, managing just 96 yards on 23 carries. Cleveland receivers dropped multiple catchable passes, and Jarvis Landry lost a fumble with the team driving in the fourth quarter. The defense performed relatively well but allowed just enough plays in crucial spots to come up short in the end.
“Well, it’s come to this already in Cleveland,” Davenport said. “If the Browns don’t win in Cincinnati this week, making it back to the playoffs for the second straight season isn’t going to happen. And frankly, given the injuries that continue to plague the team and the sorry state of Cleveland’s passing game, the Browns’ chances of making the postseason aren’t great even if they can get past the Bengals.”
USA Today - No. 16 (down 2 spots)
In positive news, DE Myles Garrett is on pace to collect 22.3 sacks – an impossible figure to achieve and also slightly shy of Michael Strahan’s single-season record of 22½. But if Garrett heats up, he just might get to 22.6.
Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.