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NFL Power Rankings: Browns surge heading into Week 15, but will COVID affect that?

The Browns had momentum after their last win.

Here is a summary of how the Cleveland Browns are viewed across mainstream media outlets in NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 15 of the 2021 NFL season. NOTE: Obviously, all of the write-ups below were made prior to all of the COVID-related news this week.

CBS Sports - No. 17 (up 3 spots)

By holding on to beat the Baltimore Ravens, they have a real chance now to win the division. The schedule down the stretch is brutal.

ESPN - No. 15 (up 4 spots)

Whatever the FPI rankings, Cleveland’s defense is beginning to hit its stride just in time to make a playoff push. The Browns intercepted Lamar Jackson four times two weeks ago then scored a defensive touchdown against the Ravens on Sunday on Myles Garrett’s strip and score. The problem is, the Browns’ offense continues to scuffle. If Kevin Stefanski can get the offense going again, especially the ground game, the Browns could become a tough out in the playoffs.

NFL.com - No. 15 (up 1 spot)

It got downright terrifying at the end, but the Browns’ defense got the final stop it needed against the Ravens to avoid disaster and put Cleveland in good position to actually win the AFC North. That seems like a crazy thought, given all of Cleveland’s struggles in this frustrating season, but things are setting up well in a division that doesn’t have any true powerhouse. Still, problems persist: The Browns nearly blew a 21-point lead in large part because the offense remains stuck in mud with Baker Mayfield under center. Mayfield told reporters after the game his banged-up body was feeling better after the Week 13 bye, but Cleveland was still shut out in the second half and managed less than 300 yards of offense. If Baker doesn’t play better, the Browns are cooked.

Sporting News - No. 15 (up 3 spots)

The Browns needed that win against the Ravens to save their regular season and now can feel like it will have another happy ending with Myles Garrett and the defense now feeling it right with Baker Mayfield and the offense at the right time.

Yahoo Sports - No. 14 (up 2 spots)

The Browns won and that’s all that matters. But Kareem Hunt went down with an injury. The offense still doesn’t look great. The defense made Tyler Huntley look pretty good after he replaced Lamar Jackson. It’s just hard to get excited about this Browns team.

Bleacher Report - No. 14 (up 5 spots)

The Cleveland Browns have life. After losing to the rival Ravens two weeks ago, the Browns had a week off to think about that defeat. If the first half of Sunday’s game was any indication, Cleveland didn’t care for it at all. At halftime of Sunday’s rematch, the Browns were cruising at 24-6. However, the second half was another, more unsettling story.

Although they were facing a Ravens team led by backup quarterback Tyler Huntley, Cleveland let Baltimore back into the game. The Browns didn’t score a point after halftime, and they allowed a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. The Browns also lost yet another key contributor, with running back Kareem Hunt now week-to-week after hurting his ankle in the first half.

“The Browns may be the AFC’s No. 8 seed and on the fringe of postseason contention, but I’m not buying this flawed team as a playoff squad,” Davenport said. ”Playoff teams don’t let an offensively challenged opponent led by a backup quarterback to get back in a game in which they have a big lead. Cleveland might well beat the Raiders next week, but when Week 18, ends so will Cleveland’s season.”

Sobleski isn’t ruling the Browns out, though.

“The Browns have found a way to stay afloat despite being one of the NFL’s most inconsistent squads,” he said. “Considering the logjam in the middle of the conference, the Browns could easily go from disappointment to playoff participant if Baker Mayfield and Co. show up over the next four weeks.”

USA Today - No. 16 (up 3 spots)

Their offense is obviously rooted in its ground game, but crazy to think in this day and age that Cleveland has netted more than 225 pass yards just twice this season.

Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.

Bengals Browns Ravens Steelers
CBS Sports 12 17 11 16
ESPN 14 15 10 16
NFL.com 13 15 16 21
Sporting News 14 15 10 17
Yahoo Sports 15 14 10 17
Bleacher Report 15 14 13 17
USA Today 12 16 13 21
Average 13.6
(down 1.6)
15.1
(up 3.0)
11.9
(down 2.5)
17.9
(down 2.3)