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Browns NFL Power Rankings: Cleveland remains steady heading into Week 16

Meanwhile, the Steelers are slipping fast.

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Chicago Bears v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Here is a summary of how the Cleveland Browns are viewed across mainstream media outlets in NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 16 of the 2023 NFL season.

CBS Sports - No. 9 (down 1 spot)

Joe Flacco wasn’t sharp all day against the Bears, but he made the throws when needed to win it. This team has a real shot now to be a playoff team.

ESPN - No. 9 (no change)

We’re No. 1 ... at forcing three-and-outs.

Cleveland has forced more three-and-outs than any other defense in the NFL with 55 and tops the league with a whopping 34.4% three-and-out rate. No other defense is even above 28%. In Sunday’s comeback victory over the Chicago Bears, the Browns forced eight three-and-outs. That was a major reason Cleveland was able to give its offense a chance to rally from the double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter for the 20-17 win. - No. 9 (down 1 spot)

While Joe Flacco struggled through his worst game as a Brown, Cleveland rode its dominant defense. Justin Fields stung them a few times early, and Flacco’s first two picks led to 14 points, but the Browns clamped down when they needed to. Several defensive reserves made game-changing plays amid a slew of injuries, and the offense finally woke up late, despite the Bears swallowing up their run game and despite the offensive line taking another hit with the loss of OG Joel Bitonio. TE David Njoku scored the Browns’ first TD with less than 5 minutes left in the second quarter. When Cleveland tried to go back to Njoku in the end zone on the team’s last play of the third quarter, Flacco’s pass was intercepted. But from that point on, Njoku dominated. He caught six passes for 86 yards in the fourth quarter, including a 34-yard catch-and-run that set up the game-winning field-goal — and atoned for a costly offsides penalty with less than two minutes left. It was yet another miracle finish in Cleveland. How the Browns are doing this is anyone’s guess.

Sporting News - No. 8 (no change)

The Browns held steady by rallying to beat the Bears with throwback late-game heroics by Joe Flacco. Their defense kept them in the game by containing another team at home, despite the Hail Mary scare. They will try to hold on as a top wild card now with the Texans and Bengals among the final three opponents.

Yahoo Sports - No. 9 (no change)

The Browns’ win Sunday was their fourth this season when their win probability dropped below 15%, according to Next Gen Stats. They had a 10.7% of beating the Bears late in the third quarter. You don’t want to live on that ledge every week, but the Browns know they can win in any situation.

Bleacher Report - No. 9 (no change)

There isn’t much the Cleveland Browns haven’t been through in 2023. And as star edge-rusher Myles Garrett told reporters after Cleveland’s comeback victory, all the adversity has only served to strengthen the team. “We’ve been through four quarterbacks,” Garrett said. “It’s not going to shake us because we’ve literally been through it all with injuries and everything else. So, this is just another step in our journey, another opportunity for us to write a very peculiar but great legacy.”

There’s been the season-ending injuries to quarterback Deshaun Watson and running back Nick Chubb. Innumerable other injuries on both sides of the ball. A second-half deficit Sunday brought on in part by an uneven game from veteran quarterback Joe Flacco. But like Garrett, Flacco said the Browns aren’t about to pack it in when something bad happens.

“You just have to keep your eyes on what’s next,” Flacco said. “You have to continue to look forward and continue to have faith that your teammates are going to get themselves in the right positions for you to get the ball to them.” Given all the injuries, the Browns may not be a threat to the Ravens, Chiefs and Dolphins in the AFC. But given how well Cleveland plays defense, the Browns are also the first-round matchup exactly no one wants.

“Despite what many would view as a crippling number of injuries, the Browns are one of eight teams with nine or more wins,” Sobleski said. “It’s a testament to Cleveland’s defense, the coaching staff and the next-man-up mentality, with unexpected individuals delivering when necessary. Now with Joe Flacco settled at quarterback, one major concern does arise: The Browns’ vaunted offensive line is in shambles. As deep as the group was and how good position coach Bill Callahan is at his job, Cleveland left Sunday’s contest with one starter, Wyatt Teller, still in the lineup. All-Pro left guard Joel Bitonio is now dealing with back spasms. Flacco has exceeded every expectation anyone could have had for him after signing with the team a month ago. However, the veteran can still be rattled by pressure. It might be what finally breaks this team, if anything does.”

USA Today - No. 10 (up 1 spot)

Maybe it’s QB Joe Flacco. Maybe it’s an investment paying off. But TE David Njoku is finally justifying the 2017 first-round pick and third contract this franchise has granted him.

Bengals Browns Ravens Steelers
CBS Sports 12 9 2 21
ESPN 10 9 2 20 12 9 2 20
Sporting News 11 8 2 16
Yahoo Sports 10 9 2 22
Bleacher Report 12 9 2 21
USA Today 12 10 2 20
Average 11.3
(up 1.6)
(down 0.1)
(up 0.9)
(down 2.6)

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