clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Browns NFL Power Rankings: Cleveland’s stock continues to rise, but Baltimore pulling ahead, heading into Week 8

The AFC North teams are each ranked in the top 13.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Cleveland Browns v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Here is a summary of how the Cleveland Browns are viewed across mainstream media outlets in NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 8 of the 2023 NFL season.

CBS Sports - No. 9 (up 1 spot)

The defense wasn’t as dominant against the Colts, but it made a lot of big plays on that side of the ball to help offset an odd day. The Deshaun Watson injury situation isn’t helping this team.

ESPN - No. 8 (no change)

Young riser: CB Martin Emerson Jr.

Deservedly, Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward gets much of the attention in Cleveland’s vaunted secondary. Emerson, 23, has been just as good this season. The former third-round pick out of Mississippi State has been a key part of Cleveland’s resurgent defense. He has allowed the third-lowest completion percentage in the NFL as the nearest defender (min. 15 targets) in coverage among cornerbacks (36.0%). He’s a big reason Cleveland’s man coverage has been so stifling. With him and Ward, the Browns boast one of the top cornerback duos in the league. - No. 10 (no change)

After another outlandish game comes another week of the Browns not knowing what the franchise quarterback is going to offer them. They found a way to win for a second straight time with PJ Walker and Kareem Hunt playing big roles. Whether this can be maintained is anyone’s guess, but with the statuses of Deshaun Watson and Jerome Ford unclear, Cleveland might have to run it back for a third time. As long as the Browns have Myles Garrett, things might be OK. And how valuable has Dustin Hopkins been? For the cost of a 2025 seventh-round pick, Cleveland landed a kicker who is 16 of 18 on field-goal tries, including a 7-for-7 mark from 50-plus yards out.

Sporting News - No. 12 (up 1 spot)

The Browns haven’t made it pretty offensively with P.J. Walker filling in for an injured Deshaun Watson, but their defense, running game and special teams have gone nuts to lift the entire team. Myles Garrett should be the front-runner for DPOY from this nasty group.

Yahoo Sports - No. 9 (no change)

It was strange to see the Browns suddenly give up 38 points to the Colts after looking like the best defense in the NFL a week before against the 49ers. But they won, which helps as they answer another round of questions about what’s going on with Deshaun Watson.

Bleacher Report - No. 12 (no change)

There were plenty of good things for the Cleveland Browns Sunday, chief among them being the fact that they ended the game with more points than the Colts. Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt combined for 105 rushing yards and three scores on 21 carries. Edge-rusher Myles Garrett was a terror once again, logging nine tackles and two sacks. However, the Browns have a big problem: The team can’t keep its $230 million quarterback on the field. After missing time with a shoulder injury, Deshaun Watson was forced from Sunday’s win after taking a shot in the first quarter. He reportedly passed concussion tests, but head coach Kevin Stefanski said after the game that he wasn’t willing to risk putting him back out there.

“I just did not want to put [Watson] back out there,” he told reporters. “I wanted to protect our franchise quarterback. That was my decision.” As if that wasn’t bad enough, Watson conceded he may have reaggravated the shoulder injury. “Whenever I step on the field, I don’t want to have any pain holding me back and be handicapped,” he said. “We had a great week of preparation and we felt that it was the best opportunity for me to come back this week. I just wasn’t able to finish the game.”

The Browns have been able to win the past two weeks despite shaky play under center from P.J. Walker. But it’s fair to wonder how long that can continue, especially with trips to Seattle and Baltimore coming up in the next few weeks. “Cleveland should be thrilled having escaped Indianapolis with a victory, considering their returning starting quarterback left the game before the first quarter ended due to injury and the defense played its worst game of the season,” Sobleski said. While quarterback will continue to be a major issue for the Browns, the defense’s performance must be scrutinized. Yes, Myles Garrett is an absolute game-wrecker and basically won this contest single-handedly. At the same time, a Colts offense led by Gardner Minshew (and without right tackle Braden Smith) generated a whopping 456 yards against a defense that was supposed to be historically good. The question moving forward is whether Indianapolis has created the blueprint for other Browns opponents to follow.”

USA Today - No. 11 (no change)

Somehow, they have the league’s second-fewest passing yards but the second-most interceptions thrown. Good thing that defense is so dominant.

Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.

Bengals Browns Ravens Steelers
CBS Sports 14 9 3 11
ESPN 13 8 5 12 12 10 2 13
Sporting News 12 9 4 14
Yahoo Sports 12 9 4 14
Bleacher Report 10 12 3 14
USA Today 12 11 4 10
Average 12.1
(down 0.4)
(up 0.4)
(up 5.0)
(up 3.1)

What do you think of the Browns’ ranking this week?