CBS Sports - No. 12 (up 5 spots)
The run game keyed the victory against the Steelers, which is what we expect. But Jacoby Brissett made a lot of timely throws.
ESPN - No. 11 (up 6 spots)
Through three games, Jacoby Brissett is probably the biggest surprise on the Browns, and maybe one of the biggest surprise performers in the NFL. He ranks ninth in QBR (62.6), ahead of Justin Herbert, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers, among others. He has completed 66.3% of his passes and thrown four touchdowns with only one interception. The running game has been prolific, but Cleveland ranks fifth in offensive efficiency because of its quarterback as well. If Brissett can maintain this level of play, the Browns should be firmly in the playoff mix once Deshaun Watson returns from suspension in Week 13.
NFL.com - No. 17 (up 5 spots)
Three weeks in, and Nick Chubb has a damn good case for the title of Best Running Back On The Planet. The Browns star was again a dominant force on Thursday Night Football against the Steelers, rolling to 113 yards and a touchdown in a 29-17 win. It was Chubb’s third straight game over 100 yards from scrimmage to begin the year. The victory represented a huge lift for Cleveland after the team’s baffling Week 2 collapse against the Jets. Chubb’s ability to run through tackles and keep defenses off balance has been a prime factor in Jacoby Brissett’s surprisingly strong start behind center. The Browns’ offense has been balanced and efficient.
Sporting News - No. 15 (up 4 spots)
The Browns should be 3-0 if not for a bad final two minutes in Week 2. Without Deshaun Watson, their offense has found a way to thrive more than enough with Nick Chubb, Jacoby Brissett and Amari Cooper. Myles Garrett and the defense could get a little more revved up, though.
Yahoo Sports - No. 11 (up 2 spots)
I wonder if Nick Chubb can make a run at NFL Offensive Player of the Year. He has 341 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 62 carries, and leads the NFL in all three categories. The Browns are going to ride him hard. If he keeps up close to this pace and the Browns stay in the AFC North race with their backup quarterback for 11 games, Chubb will get a lot of the credit.
Bleacher Report - No. 14 (up 8 spots)
Could the Cleveland Browns be…good? Granted, the Browns haven’t exactly played a murderer’s row of opponents. But after handling the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night, the Browns are one epic collapse against the New York Jets away from starting the season 3-0. After the game, head coach Kevin Stefanski lauded his team’s resilience after the disaster against the Jets the week before.
“That’s not an easy thing to bounce back from,” Stefanski said. “We talked about it on Sunday. We talked about it on Monday. What I’m proud of with those guys is you can’t let a loss linger, and we won’t let this win linger either. But I’m proud of how they responded. You’ve got to be resilient.”
The Browns appear to have found a recipe for success. Ride a ground game that piled up 171 yards against the Steelers. Get efficient play from quarterback Jacoby Brissett. And grind out wins. With the Atlanta Falcons next on the slate, the Browns could be 3-1 before entering a much more difficult stretch of the schedule. That’s about as good of a start as they could hope for.
The Ringer - No. 19 (no change)
Jacoby Brissett has very quietly exceeded expectations playing a glorified game manager role in Kevin Stefanski’s offense. The rushing attack, led by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. Cleveland currently leads the NFL in EPA per designed run (0.20). Nothing is guaranteed with Brissett under center and the Browns’ defense has severely underperformed, but the 2-1 start is promising enough to keep them in contention for a playoff spot.
Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.