The Browns are built to win this year. The AFC North is a very difficult division to be a part of. The AFC Champions reside here and they only got better this year.
Instead of Deshaun Watson leading the franchise this year, it will be backup Jacoby Brissett for the first 11 games instead.
Now what? Can Brissett carry this team to a positive outcome once the cavalry appears?
Just mull this over a bit: those first 11 games will decide the Browns 2022 season.
GM Andrew Berry gave his take:
“Number one we brought in Jacoby. We feel very good about Jacoby and what we have seen throughout the spring and summer. We have a high degree of confidence in him. No different than any other position on the roster we continue to evaluate our team over the course of camp.”
First, let’s look at the numbers on Brissett: six-year veteran, age 29, 6’-4”, 235 pounds, played in 60 NFL games with 37 starts, 727 career completions on 1,208 attempts, 7,742 yards, 60.2 completion percentage, 36 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 57.0 average QB rating, sacked 106 times, 178 rushes for 653 yards, 13 touchdowns, 3.7 yards per carry and 58 rushes for first downs.
Brissett has played for New England, Indianapolis, Miami and now Cleveland.
Some simple math with his statistics will reveal that during this 11-game span, one can expect Brissett to pass for 210 yards per game, rush for 17 yards, toss a dozen touchdowns with six picks, be sacked 2.86 times a game and score three rushing touchdowns.
The big question will be: what will the Browns win-loss record be after this 11-games?
DBN has assembled some dedicated minds who have spent their time and thoughts to come up with the answer to this query.
So, the question posed is: What is the prediction of the Browns first 11 games without Deshaun Watson?
DBN Staff Writer
Week 1 @ Carolina
The Browns open the season on the road against the Carolina Panthers, who will be sporting new quarterback Baker Mayfield and his ever-present “chip on the shoulder.” Cleveland has not won a season opener since 2004, but that ends this year as Cleveland’s defense shuts down the Panthers and walks off the field with a victory. Record: 1-0
Week 2 vs. New York Jets
The Browns send their fans home in a happy mood after they take down the New York Jets in the home opener. Once again, Brissett plays well enough, the run game is dominant and the defense flexes its muscle as they beat old foe Joe Flacco, who will still be filling in at quarterback Zach Wilson. Record: 2-0
Week 3 vs. Pittsburgh
The Dawg Pound is in a frenzy for a Thursday night, nationally televised game against the Steelers. Brissett will prove to the best quarterback on the field — maybe not the hardest task given the state of Pittsburgh’s quarterback room — and the defense will once again carry the day against a completely overmatched Steelers offensive line as the Browns ease into the weekend with an easy victory. Record: 3-0
Week 4 @ Atlanta
The Browns don’t travel to Atlanta very often — this will be just the eight time since the Falcons entered the league in 1966 - but when they do they make it worth the trip as Cleveland is 6-1 all-time in Atlanta. Brissett continues to limit his mistakes, Nick Chubb has a monster day, and the Browns stay perfect on the season, much to the chagrin of the league office and the haters across the league. Record: 4-0
Week 5 vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Reality sets in as Cleveland’s offense simply can’t keep up with the Chargers on the scoreboard. A year after putting up 47 points on Cleveland’s defense, the Chargers are not quite so proficient, but the Browns still don’t have the offensive firepower to match up and drop their first game of the season. Record: 4-1
Week 6 vs. New England
In another matchup from last season, the Browns exact their revenge on quarterback Mac Jones and the Patriots. No turnovers this time, no meltdowns on defense, just a methodical but still satisfying day to get Cleveland back on the winning track. Record: 5-1
Week 7 @ Baltimore
Even in the best of times the Browns struggle to find a way to beat the Baltimore Ravens as they have lost 11 of the last 13 times the two teams have met. It is more of the same this week as the offense struggles to get anything going against Baltimore’s defense and Brissett looks like the backup quarterback that he is. Record: 5-2
Week 8 vs. Cincinnati
It is fitting that this game takes place on Halloween night as the Browns have been playing tricks while collecting treats against the Bengals for the past four seasons by winning seven of their past eight matchups. The defense — most notably cornerback Denzel Ward and defensive end Myles Garrett - once again make life miserable for Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Maar Chase, Brissett is back to not making mistakes, and the Browns head into the bye week on a winning note after dropping a rock in Cincinnati’s treat bag. Record: 6-2
Week 10 @ Miami
The Dolphins might be improved, and wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are going to be a nightmare for many secondary units, but the Browns have a defensive backfield that is built for this exact situation. The defense continues to earn its paycheck as the Browns tough out a road win in Miami. Record: 7-2
Week 11 @ Buffalo
This was going to be a hard game even with Deshaun Watson at quarterback; it gets that much tougher with Jacoby Brissett under center on the road in Buffalo. The Browns keep it close in what will be a physical game, but just don’t have enough to take down the Bills in their home stadium. Record: 7-3
Week 12 vs. Tampa Bay
Brissett closes out his tenure as Cleveland’s starting quarterback on a down note. Tampa Bay may not be the same team that won the Super Bowl two years ago, but as long as Tom Brady is still at quarterback they have enough of an edge at the game’s most-important position to by able to pull out a win. It may not be the way Brissett wants his final game in charge to go, but he still does an admirable enough job to keep the Browns in the playoff picture with Watson’s return looming on the horizon.
After 11 games: 7-4-0
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Browns @ Panthers L
The Browns and losing Week 1 has been all but automatic. The Panthers provide a stout defense along with a healthy RB Christian McCaffery and new quarterback. The Browns will struggle moving the ball and QB Baker Mayfield will do just enough for this game to talked about in the national sports media.
Jets @ Browns W
The Browns will bounce back with the home field energy behind them. The Browns will score in the mid 20’s and the Jets will hang around for awhile until a timely turnover ultimately puts the game away from the good guys.
Steelers @ Browns L
The Steelers defense is always good and the Browns will get their first look at new quarterback Kenny Pickett. The Browns’ offense will struggle mightily as the Steelers will focus all of their effort to stop the run. Pickett will make some plays and the Steelers will walk out of FirstEnergy Stadium with a win.
Browns @ Falcons W
The Browns’ rushing attack will be unleashed in this game and WR Amari Cooper will benefit from timely play actions. The Falcons will struggle to stop the Browns offense and the brown and orange will run away with this one after surviving a close comeback attempt.
Chargers @ Browns L
QB Justin Herbert and the Chargers move up and down on the Browns defense and the offense takes a 180 from the previous game. Chargers make quick work of their cross-country trip.
Patriots @ Browns L
Head coach Kevin Stefanski will pull out all of the stops in this game in order to try and beat the Patriots. The gimmicks will not work and the Patriots defense will remain elite. QB Mac Jones will be efficient and the Patriots win a somewhat boring game.
Browns @ Ravens L
QB Lamar Jackson bounces back this season since he is healthy and has his typical performance. He will rush for a touchdown and find TE Mark Andrews for another touchdown. The Browns have trouble finding momentum offensively as the Ravens secondary locks down the receivers.
Bengals @ Browns W
Spooky Halloween night will be in the Browns’ favor and their secondary will continue their dominance over the Bengals’ receivers. QB Joe Burrow will make some plays, but not enough as the Browns rushing attack will keep him on the sidelines most of the game.
Browns @ Dolphins W
The Browns pass rush has a good day and they bottle up WR Tyreek Hill. Browns win an ugly game with a low score. K Cade York will hit a game-winning field goal.
Browns @ Bills L
QB Josh Allen and company have their way with the Browns. The pass rush will be close, but Allen will escape and make plays out of the pocket. The Bills defense will bottle up the Browns rushing attack.
Buccaneers @ Browns L
The Browns will play well in this game, but fall just short as QB Tom Brady will lead a last minute drive. This will be the game that gives us hope for the rest of the season.
After 11 games: 4-7-0
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Week-1 Browns vs Panthers
This will be a grind it out type of game. DE’s Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney will have a field day at QB Baker Mayfield’s expense. Head coach Kevin Stefanski knows his weakness. Browns win this game.
Week-2 Browns vs Jets
QB Zach Wilson, is still injured, and the Jets just do not have enough talent in my eyes to be competitive. The Jets still have not addressed their offensive line issues. Browns win this game.
Week 3 Browns vs Steelers
This game could be a tossup. It could come down to shear coaching in which Stefanski is clearly at a disadvantage. Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin does not have losing seasons Steelers win this game.
Week 4 Browns vs Falcons
QB Marcus Mariota best days are behind him. He is still a threat on the ground but in the air is a whole other ball game. Brown wins this game easily.
Week 5 Browns vs Chargers
Getting into a shoot-out with QB Justin Herbert is a bad idea on any level and when everyone knows what you are going to do, even with the best 1-2 combo in RB’s Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. You must throw the football. Browns are at a disadvantage in this game. Chargers win this game.
Week 6 Browns vs Patriots
The Browns made QB Mac Jones look like an MVP last year but conflicts with the coaching staff and New England head coach Bill Belichick have may have the rattled their young QB. Browns win this game.
Week 7 Browns vs Ravens
The Ravens where ravaged by injuries last year and QB Lamar Jackson still managed to keep the train moving. Now he has his full accompaniment of staff, to give support. Ravens win this game.
Week 8 Browns vs Bengals
The defending AFC champions went on a tear near the end of the season without a good offensive line, but the Browns have their number. Browns win this game.
Week 9 Bye Week
Week 10 Browns vs Dolphins
Tua Tagovailoa still needs to prove that he can be competent NFL QB. It does you no good to have WR Tyreek Hill if you can get him the ball. Browns win this game.
Week 11 Browns vs Bills
Josh Allen is a man among boys. He is a dual threat QB with all the tools in the shed to get the job done. I do not see the Browns winning this game. Bills win this game.
Week 12 Brown vs Buccaneers
QB Jacoby Brissett goes up against his old mentor in QB Tom Brady. I think this game will be close, but Brady has the advantage. The Bucs will win this game.
After 11 games: 6-5-0. In retrospect, we need Brissett to go 6-5 and keep the Browns in the Wild Card hunt to make the post-season after Watson comes back. The AFC North in my opinion is the hardest in football! 9-8 will not be enough, but 10-7 should solidify a chance at post season play unless Brissett and company can steal a game they are not supposed to win. This is what I call “THE CLOWN FACTOR!’’ If this kicks in, they will lose a game they should win. GO BROWNS!
DBN Staff Writer
I think the Browns are going to go 6-5 at the WORST this season. Reasoning is simple, the Browns have a really good roster and I think they have a good coaching staff to take advantage of it.
The defense will have another offseason to gel and build of off how they finished 2021. Back are Clowney, Garrett, JOK, Walker, Ward, Newsome, Johnson, etc on defense. That alone should mean they should play better out of the gate this season.
Of course on offense, they just need to keep things between the ditches and pound the rock. It would not shock me to see Chubb and Hunt each finish games with 15-20+ touches each. Brissett needs to protect the ball, get it to Cooper and Njoku in the pass game and give it to Hunt and Chubb 30 times a game on the ground.
That recipe, combined with some opportunistic defense should be more than enough to beat the Panthers, Jets and Falcons. There are 3 wins right there. Then we gett to the coin flip games.
Bengals, Dolphins, Steelers, Ravens and Patriots should be good games. All games in the AFC North are grinds even with the Steelers in a quasi-rebuilding. I think the Bengals do NOT matchup well with the Browns, but it would not surprise me to see the Bengals pop off and get a win.
So that’s five games that can go wither way. Let’s get happy and say the Browns go 3-2 in those games, which gives us a 6-2 record after combining them with the so-called “easy games”.
We have the tough ones left. Bills, Bucs and Chargers. All three of those teams could easily be in the Super Bowl. Even if the Browns go 0-3 in those games, that is a 6-5 record.
Obviously the NFL is always something you can’t predict. Teams will suffer injuries, teams will surprise and disappoint.
BUT if the Browns can get to 6-5 and add one of the most dynamic QB’s in the game, they got a chance. That’s all you can ask for in today’s NFL.