CBS Sports - No. 17 (down 5 spots)
The injuries have impacted their defense, but they had their chances against the Falcons. Now 2-2, they haven’t looked like a playoff team yet.
ESPN - No. 18 (down 7 spots)
The biggest issue on defense is ... a banged-up defensive line.
Cleveland was missing three of its four starters along the defensive line in Sunday’s loss to the Falcons, including star pass-rusher Myles Garrett. Coach Kevin Stefanski said Garrett could return next Sunday following last week’s single-car crash. But Garrett is going to have to play through left shoulder and right biceps injuries, at least in the short term. DE Jadeveon Clowney has missed the past two games with an ankle injury. Without either, the Browns couldn’t get pressure, while the Falcons ran the ball at will. With explosive offenses coming up, the D-line better healthy fast.
NFL.com - No. 21 (down 4 spots)
Jacoby Brissett has thrown just two interceptions through four games, but they’ve both been killers. In Week 2, he sailed a pass that sealed Cleveland’s fate in a collapse against the Jets. On Sunday, another Brissett misfire in the final minutes was the difference in a frustrating 23-20 loss to the Falcons. The Browns fell despite another big performance by Nick Chubb, who has three 100-yard games in four weeks and very much looks like the favorite for the NFL rushing title in 2022. The big question in Cleveland: When will Myles Garrett return to the lineup following his scary car accident last week? He is the engine that makes the Browns’ defense go.
Sporting News - No. 17 (down 2 spots)
The Browns found their ground game again with Nick Chubb dominating in Atlanta, but Jacoby Brissett hit a wall and the defense become a sieve against the run without Myles Garrett. The latter may be a carryover issue for multiple games.
Yahoo Sports - No. 16 (down 5 spots)
Thankfully Myles Garrett didn’t sustain any serious injuries in a car accident. From a football perspective the Browns need Garrett back soon. They don’t have much margin for error, and they missed his playmaking on Sunday in a loss to the Falcons.
Bleacher Report - No. 19 (down 5 spots)
Every time it appears the Cleveland Browns might be something, the team does its level best to convince us they are not. On Sunday, the Browns played an Atlanta Falcons team that completed seven passes all game long. The Falcons all but abandoned the pass in the second half; they were going to run the ball, and everyone knew it. But the Browns could do little to stop it, despite Atlanta running back Cordarrelle Patterson barely playing after halftime. After the defeat, frustrated linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah told reporters the entire defense needs to up its game.
“Everybody’s got to do their job,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “We’ve got to make sure that we stick with the fundamentals. We’ve got to make sure that we fit our gaps as linebackers, safeties fit their gaps, corners do their jobs and the D-line do theirs. It’s a team game, it’s a team responsibility and that’s really what it is.”
“Cleveland opened the season with about as soft a four-game stretch as you could ask for,” Davenport said. “But they couldn’t take advantage of it, losing to a pair of deeply flawed teams in the Falcons and New York Jets. Now comes a six-game gauntlet that includes three 2021 playoff teams and three other teams (the Chargers, Dolphins and Ravens), generally regarded as contenders in 2022. The Browns will be lucky to split those games, and the more likely result is that by the 10-game mark, the Browns are 4-6 or 3-7 and circling the drain.”
The Ringer - No. 20 (down 1 spot)
The Browns aren’t built to come from behind, and if opposing teams can get out to leads, as the Falcons did with their 10-0 first-quarter start in Week 4, Jacoby Brissett and the offense will struggle. Cleveland’s ideal offense runs through Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, as the Browns rank first in EPA per rush, per TruMedia, and only 15th in EPA per pass. Chubb and Hunt combined for 77 of their 167 total rushing yards in the fourth quarter against Atlanta, but it wasn’t enough. Cleveland must get that duo going earlier to be successful.
Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.