CBS Sports - No. 12 (up 5 spots)
The defense is special. Is it enough to carry them to the playoffs? Deshaun Watson was better against the Titans, which he had to be.
ESPN - No. 9 (up 7 spots)
Offensive efficiency: 27.5 (24th)
Biggest issue on offense: Passing consistency
The Browns are coming off a dominant win over the Tennessee Titans, and QB Deshaun Watson delivered his best performance in a Browns uniform, completing 82% of his passes — the second-best mark of his career. Before Sunday, Watson ranked last in the NFL in off-target rate (27%). Did Watson turn a corner and rediscover his accuracy? Or did he and Cleveland just manhandle a porous Tennessee pass defense? These next two games — against the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers — should reveal whether Watson and the Browns’ passing attack can actually carry Cleveland to the playoffs minus All-Pro running back Nick Chubb.
NFL.com - No. 9 (up 4 spots)
After a pretty tepid start offensively, including a truly bizarre backward pass by Deshaun Watson, the offense really turned in a solid day of work in the win over the Titans, with Watson settling down and having what was arguably his best game as a Brown. Once again, though, the defense established the tone and really never let up. Tennessee crossed midfield on all three second-quarter possessions but ended up with only three points. The Titans couldn’t escape their own end of the field in the second half, netting just 26 yards and two first downs on 19 plays. The Browns clamped down (without CB Greg Newsome). Cleveland’s stars shined, and this team is back in business.
Sporting News - No. 8 (up 7 spots)
The Browns matched their strong defensively play with more competent passing offense with Deshaun Watson, who posted his best game for Cleveland vs. the Titans. They might be the sneaky new AFC North favorites.
Yahoo Sports - No. 8 (up 2 spots)
While we all gush over the Dolphins’ offense, what about the Browns’ defense? That unit is off to a rare start this season. They held the Titans to 94 yards on Sunday, which shouldn’t happen in an NFL game. New coordinator Jim Schwartz has turned everything around. I still don’t trust the Deshaun Watson-led offense without Nick Chubb, but the defense might be the NFL’s best.
Bleacher Report - No. 9 (up 7 spots)
When Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb went down with a season-ending knee injury, it became painfully clear that if the Browns were going to salvage their season that others were going to have to step up a major way. For one week at least, Cleveland did.
On a day where the Browns were facing the NFL’s No. 1 run defense from a season ago, Cleveland’s ground game was grounded—new lead back Jerome Ford managed just 18 yards on 10 carries, and the Browns rushed for just 2.5 yards per carry as a team.
But Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson had easily his best game since joining the Browns, completing 27 of 33 passes for 289 yards and two scores without an interception. Wide receiver Amari Cooper had a big day, hauling in seven passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. And Myles Garrett’s 3.5 sack explosion keyed a Browns defense that allowed under 100 yards of offense and just six first downs.
“One victory over a Titans team with a truly terrible offense isn’t going to save the Browns’ season,” Davenport said. “But Watson finally looked like the quarterback the Browns though they were getting for $230 million Sunday and Cleveland’s defense continued to play well. I still have serious doubts about Cleveland’s viability as a contender. But when the rival Ravens come to town in Week 4, it will be with first place in the AFC North on the line.”
USA Today - No. 8 (up 7 spots)
Now look who’s in possession of the league’s top-ranked defense. And get this: Cleveland’s D has allowed one touchdown this season … while the Browns offense has surrendered two.
Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.
What do you think of the Browns’ ranking this week?