CBS Sports - No. 20 (no change)
They are a lesson in how it’s not always a good thing to be the darlings of the preseason. This was a disappointing season in a lot of ways.
ESPN - No. 20 (no change)
New Year’s resolution: Bolster the passing game
It’s far too lazy to solely blame Cleveland’s struggles through the air on quarterback Baker Mayfield, who has been playing through a torn labrum to his non-throwing left shoulder since Week 2. Mayfield has struggled, to be sure. But he’s hardly the only reason the Browns suddenly own one of the league’s least dangerous passing attacks. The Browns need to upgrade the talent at wide receiver, notably the downfield playmaking. In what appears to be another tantalizing WR draft, look for the Browns to target a receiver with their first pick.
NFL.com - No. 20 (down 3 spots)
The Browns probably weren’t thrilled about being guests at Ben Roethlisberger’s emotional goodbye party at Heinz Field. The Cleveland defense held Big Ben to a comically low 2.7 yards per attempt on 46 passes, but the Browns’ offense was inept in its own way. Baker Mayfield took nine sacks and threw two interceptions, while Kevin Stefanski deserves criticism for another strange game plan that included just 12 rush attempts for Nick Chubb, the team’s best offensive player. If you’re talking about the most disappointing teams in the NFL this season, the Browns are absolutely part of the conversation.
Sporting News - No. 20 (no change)
The Browns won’t be making the playoffs again with Baker Mayfield and Kevin Stefanski. But they can still fight through an injury-riddled season and finish above .500 to build on a big rebound in 2022.
Yahoo Sports - No. 20 (down 4 spots)
Baker Mayfield hasn’t played well, and everyone has mentioned his injuries. It also needs to be pointed out that since dumping Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland has very little at receiver either. Getting multiple receivers has to be an offseason priority.
For the second time in three years, the Cleveland Browns entered the regular season riding a wave of hype. And for the second time in three years, as the calendar turns to January that hype has given way to a losing season and the team missing the playoffs. And now, the Browns face an offseason filled with uncertainty and one massive question—what to do about Baker Mayfield?
Yes, part of Mayfield’s struggles in 2021 can be attributed to the injuries he has suffered this year and a lack of passing game talent around him. But Odell Beckham appears to be doing fine in Los Angeles. Mayfield has one of the league’s best offensive lines in front of him and maybe the best one-two punch in the backfield in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt behind him. But while Joe Burrow is racking up division titles down I-71 in Cincinnati, Mayfield is racking up interceptions and questions about his viability as the long-term solution under center.
“I won’t sit here and say definitively that Mayfield isn’t ‘the guy’ in Cleveland,” Davenport said. “But if the Browns extend him after this mess of a season it will either be at a steep discount or the most Browns thing ever. Every time you think this team is shaking off the decades of dysfunction and dread, Cleveland happens.”
USA Today - No. 21 (down 1 spot)
Time to look to the future ... and wonder how much longer QB Baker Mayfield, who will be a free agent in 2023, will be part of it.Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.