CBS Sports - No. 17 (up 8 spots)
They aren’t officially done as Deshaun Watson gets ready to play for the first time. Jacoby Brissett did a nice job when he played in his spot, but now it’s Watson time.
ESPN - No. 24 (up 5 spots)
Realistic expectation: Hanging around the playoff conversation.
Expecting to make the AFC playoffs might be too much for a team with a record of 4-7. But it’s not unthinkable that Cleveland could at least hang in the playoff picture. The Browns can afford only one more loss in their final six games, at most. Even then, they might need help elsewhere from a loaded AFC. But if the Browns can avoid being mathematically eliminated in December, that would constitute a success at this point for a team that remains a long shot to make the postseason.
NFL.com - No. 19 (up 5 spots)
The Jacoby Brissett portion of the schedule is over, ending on a high note with an overtime win over the Bucs. Brissett, as he did throughout his 11-game tenure as starter, delivered a workmanlike effort that put Cleveland in a good position to win. “I mean this in no disrespect,” Brissett said of the comeback against his old teammate in New England. “But in the words of Tom Brady, that was (expletive) awesome. That was (expletive) awesome.” Brissett now steps aside for Deshaun Watson, who will make his debut against the Texans in what signals a polarizing new era for the organization. When Watson takes his first snap against his former team, it will represent the QB’s first true game action in 700 days.
Sporting News - No. 21 (up 4 spots)
The Browns refuse to completely fade in the AFC playoff race and have two recent big wins over the Bengals and Buccaneers. Even though Jacoby Brissett has played really well, they will have confidence a big run can still come with Deshaun Watson taking over at QB.
Yahoo Sports - No. 19 (up 3 spots)
The Browns go from the likable Jacoby Brissett to Deshaun Watson at quarterback this week. There will be plenty said about Watson’s return from suspension this week, but from a strictly football sense, it will be interesting to see what Watson looks like. He hasn’t played a regular-season game since the end of the 2020 season. He is in a new offense with new teammates and had just a few preseason snaps. Watson is undeniably talented, but how good can he possibly be right away?
Bleacher Report - No. 20 (up 5 spots)
Sunday likely brought with it the end of the Jacoby Brissett era in Cleveland. In Week 13, Deshaun Watson will be eligible to play for the first time this season. And the Browns didn’t give Watson a $230 million fully guaranteed contract to watch Brissett play. But while Brissett’s time as the Browns’ starting quarterback may be over, the journeyman backup deserves considerable credit—not only for beating Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, but also for playing about as well as anyone could have reasonably expected.
After the comeback win, Brissett was all about thanking his teammates and the organization, both for helping get arguably Cleveland’s biggest win of the year but also for the chance to see extended action under center again.
“I mean this in no disrespect,” Brissett told reporters. “But in the words of Tom Brady, that was f—king awesome. That was f—king awesome. I’m obviously grateful for this opportunity and grateful for those men in that room. This was a great game to kind of end it on, but we have to stack them.”
The Browns all but certainly aren’t going to the playoffs this year. But Brissett has played a substantial role in what success Cleveland has had in 2022. That should be recognized.
The Ringer - No. 21 (up 3 spots)
Put some respect on Jacoby Brissett’s name. Cast in an unwinnable situation after the Browns traded for and paid Deshaun Watson, Brissett capped off his 11-game stint as Cleveland’s starting QB with a comeback win against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Through the first 12 weeks of the season, Brissett ranked 12th in EPA per dropback and the Browns overall ranked fifth in offensive EPA.
Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.