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NFL Power Rankings: Browns stay pace heading into Week 3

Baltimore surges back into a virtual tie with Cleveland, while Pittsburgh falls off again.

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Here is a summary of how the Cleveland Browns are viewed across mainstream media outlets in NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 3 of the 2021 NFL season.

CBS Sports - No. 10 (up 2 spots)

They found a way against the Texans, but it was clunky at times. They were in a close game until Tyrod Taylor went out. Losing Jarvis Landry for a bit will hurt the offense.

ESPN - No. 8 (down 1 spot)

Fantasy surprise: RB Demetric Felton

On the first offensive touch of his NFL career, the rookie spun out of two tackles then broke another on the way to a 33-yard touchdown on Sunday. The sixth-round pick out of UCLA wound up finishing with a team-high 51 receiving yards on top of returning punts and kicks in Cleveland’s 31-21 win over Houston. Coach Kevin Stefanski noted afterward that Felton’s role as a multipurpose playmaker in the offense would continue to grow. But with wide receiver Jarvis Landry dealing with a knee injury and fellow wideout Odell Beckham Jr. still yet to play, Felton’s role could grow sooner rather than later. - No. 8 (no change)

The Browns got a solid performance from Baker Mayfield and the now-customary game-icing touchdown run from Nick Chubb to beat a Texans team that continues to look friskier than expected. Houston QB Tyrod Taylor was dicing up his former team before suffering a hamstring injury that ended his day after two quarters (and which is likely to cost him considerable time, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero). The Browns were pretty much in control from that point onward, as Texans rookie Davis Webb delivered an uneven performance in relief. One subplot to watch: Jarvis Landry is week-to-week after suffering an MCL injury on the second snap of the game. With Odell Beckham’s lingering absence threatening to turn into an Unsolved Mysteries episode, Cleveland is suddenly thin at wide receiver. Mayfield’s lack of downfield passes underlined this issue against Houston.

Sporting News - No. 4 (up 1 spot)

The Browns were impressive in their loss against the Chiefs in Week 1 and built on that momentum to turn back the upstart Texans in Week 2. Baker Mayfield is operating the versatile, balanced and explosive offense at a high level even down his two veteran weapons. The defense still needs some to jell.

Yahoo Sports - No. 12 (down 1 spot)

Odell Beckham Jr. is still out, having not fully recovered from his torn ACL. Jarvis Landry has a sprained MCL, and that’s not an easy injury for a receiver. Until the Browns get their top two pass catchers back, the offense could be one dimensional.

Bleacher Report - No. 6 (down 2 spots)

The Cleveland Browns notched their first victory of the season Sunday. That is a good thing. It’s also perhaps the only good thing that happened to them against the Texans. In the first series of the game, the Browns lost wide receiver Jarvis Landry to a knee injury, further depleting a shaky wideout corps that is already down Odell Beckham Jr. And for the second time in as many weeks, Cleveland’s supposedly revamped defense did not play well at all.

The Texans aren’t exactly regarded as an offensive powerhouse. But even after losing starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, they still managed more than 300 yards of offense and converted eight of their 14 third-down attempts.

“I’m having a harder and harder time buying into this Browns team as a legitimate Super Bowl contender,” Davenport said. “You aren’t beating the AFC’s best teams if your defense can’t get off the field, and the Browns can’t. Unless that gets better in a hurry, it’s going to be disappointment time again in Cleveland.”

“Cleveland fell to the Chiefs in Week 1 despite outplaying Kansas City for most of the contest,” Sobleski added. “Kevin Stefanski’s squad then struggled a bit against the Texans, particularly when Taylor was in the game. The Browns’ offense is humming, but the defense is still a work in progress. Despite all of the talent the team added this offseason, the unit can’t seem to stop anyone on third down. The group still has time to come together, but it could hold the entire team back.”

USA Today - No. 4 (no change)

Very premature to anoint RB Nick Chubb a future Hall of Famer – but he’s doing gold jacket-type things. Chubb is the first Cleveland player since Leroy Kelly (Hall of Fame Class of 1994) to rush for a TD in eight consecutive games and first since Jim Brown (Hall of Fame Class of 1971) to run for at least 50 yards 35 times in his first four seasons.

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

Bengals Browns Ravens Steelers
CBS Sports 25 10 9 14
ESPN 25 8 9 12 26 8 3 12
Sporting News 23 4 8 10
Yahoo Sports 25 12 8 10
Bleacher Report 24 6 5 14
USA Today 24 4 7 8
Average 24.6
(down 2.7)
(down 0.3)
(up 4.1)
(down 4.5)