CBS Sports - No. 8 (up 2 spots)
The defense came alive against the Bears, with Myles Garrett playing a huge role with 4.5 sacks. At 2-1, they face a tough road trip to Minnesota this week.
ESPN - No. 6 (up 2 spots)
Despite what his QBR suggests, Baker Mayfield has played well. He has been unlucky with touchdown passes, as the Browns lead the NFL with eight touchdown runs (no other team has more than five). His QBR also is being dragged down by nine sacks; he is last in the sack element that factors into QBR. Considering he also ranks fifth with a completion rate of 73.8% and fourth with 9.75 yards per passing attempt, Mayfield’s QBR will be just fine once he eliminates some of those sacks and a few of those Browns scoring runs turn into Mayfield touchdown passes.
NFL.com - No. 8 (no change)
The 26-6 final score doesn’t reflect just how badly the Browns beat up on the poor Bears. Cleveland was in total control from the opening kickoff, and Myles Garrett set a franchise record with 4.5 sacks, a performance that quiets talk of a slow start by the game’s premier defensive end. Justin Fields was under constant duress as Chicago managed a single net yard of passing. The Browns continue to get impact performances from their running game, as well: Kareem Hunt totaled 155 total yards, including the game-sealing touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Then there’s Odell Beckham, who made his season debut and looked like himself in a five-catch day. The Browns are in a good place.
Sporting News - No. 3 (up 1 spot)
The Browns’ defense needed that game against the Bears to flex a little to support the offense that keeps getting it done in different ways around Baker Mayfield. They are the early best team in the AFC with the Chiefs, to whom they barely lost in Week 1, stubbing their toes.
Yahoo Sports - No. 11 (up 1 spot)
If the Browns’ defense is as good as it looked on Sunday, this is a Super Bowl contender. Myles Garrett is on his way to a defensive player of the year award. Jadeveon Clowney had two sacks. The Browns are good up the middle too. They sacked Justin Fields nine times, which might be more about Fields (and Matt Nagy’s game plan) than the Browns defensive line, but it was an impressive show.
Over their first two games, the Cleveland Browns looked OK. Baker Mayfield and the offense held up their end of the deal in a loss to the Chiefs and a win over the Texans. But the defense had been lackluster at best and especially awful on third downs. Granted, it came against a rookie quarterback making his first career start behind a shaky offensive line, but that defense showed up against the Bears in Week 3—especially star edge-rusher Myles Garrett.
All Garrett did against Chicago was tally seven total tackles and set a new franchise record for sacks in a game with 4.5. For the game, the Browns allowed all of 47 total yards.
“When Cleveland’s defense is playing at that level and the Browns are racking up north of 200 yards on the ground, the Browns can beat anyone,” Davenport said. “But the Browns are also about to be tested in a big way defensively—the team’s next three matchups are against rolling offenses in the Vikings, Chargers and Cardinals.”
“One had to feel bad for Fields during Sunday’s meeting with the Browns,” Sobleski added. “After all of the offseason investments Cleveland made in its defense, the unit finally looked like a top-10 group. Garrett punished Fields with a franchise-record 4.5 sacks. The Browns got to the rookie nine times in total. Throw 15 quarterback hits into the mix as well. With an elite running game and emerging defense, the Browns have a recipe to beat anyone.”
USA Today - No. 3 (up 1 spot)
Revamped defense arrived Sunday, posting nine sacks while limiting Chicago to 47 total yards and 1.1 per play. WR Odell Beckham Jr. (87 yards from scrimmage) also apparently arrived. The possibilities for Cleveland remain exciting.
Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.