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Browns NFL Power Rankings: QB play costs Cleveland, as Bengals slip ahead of them heading into Week 9

The Browns are out of the Top 10 after leading the league in turnovers on offense.

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NFL: Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Here is a summary of how the Cleveland Browns are viewed across mainstream media outlets in NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 9 of the 2023 NFL season.

CBS Sports - No. 13 (down 4 spots)

With P.J. Walker playing quarterback, they are limited in a big way on offense. It’s time Deshaun Watson gets back out on the field.

ESPN - No. 12 (down 4 spots)

Team QBR: 31.8 (32nd)

This is not what the Browns envisioned when they gave Deshaun Watson a $230 million fully guaranteed contract. This season, Watson has played in only three full games. When he has been on the field, he hasn’t played well (41.4 QBR). Watson continues to nurse the rotator cuff strain to his throwing shoulder, and his return date remains unclear. Backup PJ Walker has played valiantly in his place, leading the Browns on winning drives in back-to-back wins over the 49ers and Colts. But Sunday, his three turnovers proved costly in a loss at Seattle. - No. 12 (down 2 spots)

PJ Walker has been a savior, helping keep the Browns’ season afloat amid the weekly questions about Deshaun Watson’s health. Though Walker was humming early on Sunday, his second-quarter INT deep in Seattle territory was a killer, as was his fourth-quarter pick with less than two minutes to go, which set up the game-winning score for the Seahawks. Walker’s limitations have always been clear — but now they’re embossed in neon, with him logging six turnovers and a 49.5 completion percentage over nearly three full games. The Browns erased a 14-0 deficit at a hostile road venue in Seattle, taking the lead with less than three minutes left. But the defensive breakdowns early and late, plus Walker’s inconsistency, kept them from winning a third straight in dramatic fashion.

Sporting News - No. 14 (down 2 spots)

The Browns also are working to hide their limited offense and it’s admirable what they’ve done with their running backs and receivers to lift P.J. Walker. But Myles Garrett needs help from wreaking havoc on the other side and the run defense leaks just enough at times.

Yahoo Sports - No. 12 (down 3 spots)

Kevin Stefanski was criticized for passing on third-and-3 right before the two-minute warning against the Seahawks. P.J. Walker’s pass went off Jamal Adams’ helmet and was picked off, and that led to a game-winning Seahawks drive. A run in that spot would have at very least given the Browns a chance to punt and make Seattle start a drive from deep in its territory. With the Ravens starting to widen their lead in the AFC North, that will be a loss the Browns regret.

Bleacher Report - No. 15 (down 3 spots)

The story of the Cleveland Browns in 2023 is one of what might have been. What might have been had running back Nick Chubb not torn his ACL? What might have been had the team been able to cobble together just average quarterback play? Thanks largely to one of the league’s best defenses, the Browns have been in just about every game this year. And even after losing at Seattle, the Browns are still above .500.

But when the best performance of the season from the team’s current starting quarterback is completing 15 of 31 passes with two picks and a passer rating south of 60, then said team has problems. P.J. Walker also lost a fumble, and head coach Kevin Stefanski acknowledged after the game that turnovers are a major issue for the team.

“I was obviously pleased with how we fought out of it (a 14-0 first-quarter hole), but we can’t turn the ball over,” Stefanski told reporters. “That’s continuing to hurt us, so we’ve got to find ways to not turn it over.”

At minus-seven, only the Las Vegas Raiders have a worse turnover differential than the Browns. And at least one of our analysts is out on Cleveland altogether.

“The Browns are done,” Davenport said. “There’s no telling when the single worst contract in NFL history will decide it isn’t easier to just cash checks while sitting on the sideline and play again, and even when he was out there it isn’t like Deshaun Watson was good. His replacement has been a turnover machine, and for reasons that boggle the mind, the Browns appear to be OK with Walker anyway. The Browns have a great defense and a playoff-caliber roster. But you can’t win in the NFL with abysmal quarterback play.”

USA Today - No. 13 (down 2 spots)

What’s the fastest way to squander the NFL’s top-ranked defense? Probably by fielding an offense that turns it over a league-high 17 times.

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

Bengals Browns Ravens Steelers
CBS Sports 8 13 2 16
ESPN 11 12 4 14 11 12 2 15
Sporting News 9 14 3 13
Yahoo Sports 10 12 3 16
Bleacher Report 9 15 4 19
USA Today 10 13 2 12
Average 9.7
(up 2.4)
(down 3.3)
(up 0.7)
(down 2.4)

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