In 2019, the Cleveland Browns underachieved, and their record showed it. Cleveland surprised everyone with a 6-10 record overall and a 5-10-1 record against the spread last year. However, the Browns are back with many fresh faces. Freddie Kitchens, who went 7-8-1 as the offensive coordinator in 2018 and took on the head coaching duties in 2019, is out after one season of leading the Browns.
While many of the team’s main weapons are back for the upcoming season, they have reloaded in several areas, including offensive line and tight end. In addition, the Browns have a new general manager in Andrew Berry, who is the youngest general manager in the NFL. Cleveland’s new coaching staff is notable as well: first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, and defensive coordinator Joe Woods will all be in their first year with Cleveland.
While the Browns have many new players and coaches, the pressure will be high in Cleveland. The Browns have not won eight games in a season since 2007, which was also the last year the Browns had a top-10 offense. The Browns’ over/under for the upcoming season coincidentally is 8.5 wins, as the team looks to end the longest active playoff drought in the NFL and make the postseason for the first time in 18 years.
Read Also: Baltimore Ravens Predictions and Odds
2020 Browns Draft Picks
Jedrick Wills Jr., OT (Alabama)
Grant Delpit, S (LSU)
Jordan Elliott, DT (Missouri)
Jacob Phillips, LB (LSU)
Harrison Bryant, TE (Florida Atlantic)
Nick Harris, C (Washington)
Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR (Michigan)
Notable Other New Faces for the Browns
Case Keenum, QB
Andy Janovich, RB
Austin Hooper, TE
Adrian Clayborn, DE
Malcolm Smith, LB
B.J. Goodson, LB
Karl Joseph, S
Notable Browns in New Places
D.J. Montgomery, WR – New York Jets
Joe Schobert, LB – Jacksonville Jaguars
Notable Browns on the Injury Report
Nick Chubb, RB – should be ready for Week 1 after suffering a concussion
Jarvis Landry, WR – should be ready for Week 1 after offseason left hip surgery
J.C. Tretter, C –questionable for Week 1 with a knee injury
Myles Garrett,DE – questionable for Week 1 with a wrist injury
Curtis Weaver,DE – season-ending foot injury
Mack Wilson, LB – out four to six weeks with a knee injury
Greedy Williams, CB – questionable for Week 1 with a shoulder injury
Grant Delpit, S – season-ending Achilles injury
Browns Who Have Opted Out of 2020 NFL Season
Drake Dorbeck, OT
Malcolm Pridgeon, OG
Colby Gossett, OG
Drew Forbes, OG
Andrew Billings, DT
Browns Offense Predictions
Baker Mayfield has a fresh-looking offensive line looking to help him succeed after a sophomore slump. The two newcomers are rookie Jedrick Wills Jr. at left tackle, and former Tennessee Titans right tackle Jack Conklin (three-year, $42 million contract) taking over the same position in Cleveland. Mayfield looks to make a big jump in his third NFL season. The pressure is on the 25-year-old quarterback after he threw for 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions last year. Mayfield’s quarterback rating fell by almost 15 points from 2018 to 2019. Browns’ fans hope that Mayfield’s 2020 looks a lot more like his 2018 than his 2019.
Mayfield has a large array of offensive options. They should be ready to be all-systems-go in Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens if Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, and veteran center J.C. Tretter recover well from their respective ailments. Although Mack Wilson was responsible for Chubb’s injury, it seems that the accidental concussion-causing tackle has not caused any derision among the Browns in the clubhouse.
Browns Running Backs: The Two-Headed Backfield
Chubb and Kareem Hunt are the two-headed backfield for what expects to be a top-10 offense in Cleveland this season. They helped the Browns to have the fourth-highest yards per rushing attempt last year. Both of these young running backs are ready to contribute, and even a Madden 21 rating adjuster has said that Chubb and Hunt can be two of the best five NFL running backs this season. Chubb is hungry to build upon his strong 2019: 298 rushes for 1,494 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Hunt, who served his half-season suspension to begin 2019, will hope to play a full year in 2020 for the first time since his rookie season in 2017. During Hunt’s rookie year, he led the NFL in rushing with 1,327 yards. Hunt made the All-Rookie Team and the Pro Bowl that year.
Browns Wide Receivers: Two Stars Lead the Way
The Browns have another two-headed monster at wide receiver: Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are ready to produce 1,000-yard seasons yet again. Although Beckham amassed 74 receptions and 1,035 yards in 2019, Beckham missed yet another Pro Bowl. Mayfield found Beckham for just four touchdowns last year. Beckham will look to increase that total, as he looks to make his first Pro Bowl since 2016. Meanwhile, Landry, who hopes to be ready for the beginning of the season after left hip surgery, has been a Pro Bowler every year since 2015. Landry has been the most effective slot receiver in the NFL during his career. He also has the most catches of any NFL player in his first six seasons all-time. With Mayfield, Beckham, and Landry together for another season, they can be even more in sync heading into 2020.
Browns Tight Ends: Hooper and Njoku Look to Coexist
Not only are the Browns loaded at running back and wide receiver, but they have also added a great pass-catcher at tight end. Austin Hooper, who set career-highs in receptions (75), receiving yards (787), and touchdowns (six) with the Atlanta Falcons in 2019, is taking over as the No. 1 tight end for the Browns. Cleveland brought in the two-time Pro Bowler on a record-breaking tight end deal. David Njoku may have felt slighted by the signing, as he and his new agent Drew Rosenhaus asked for a trade. However, the Browns have since kept Njoku, and he is ready to contribute as the No. 2 tight end for the team. Even if Njoku is dealt early in the season, the Browns drafted tight end, Harrison Bryant, in the fourth round of the 2020 draft. Bryant was a unanimous first-team All-American and John Mackey Award winner for college football’s top tight end in 2019.
The Browns offense is looking strong heading into the upcoming season, and they hope to start with their best foot forward, as they face the Ravens and Bengals in the first two weeks. In 2019, the Browns averaged 26 points per game against those two teams. In their other 12 games last year, they scored just 19 points per game. In 2019, the Browns ranked just 22nd in points scored, and they will hope to improve significantly this year.
Read Also: Pittsburgh Steelers Predictions and Odds
Browns Defense Predictions
In 2019, the Browns defense was also below average, as they ranked 20th in points allowed and 22nd in yards allowed. The last time the Browns had a defense in the top 10 in both points and yards was 1994 when Bill Belichick was the head coach. That postseason was the last one in which Cleveland won a playoff game.
The Browns Have Injury Replacements on the Defensive Side of the Ball
Injuries to second-year linebacker Mack Wilson and rookie safety Grant Delpit are likely to negatively affect the Browns this season, but rest assured, Wilson should be back during the first half of the season. Cleveland also added free agent linebacker Malcolm Smith, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Seattle Seahawks.
The Browns expressed interest in former Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots safety Logan Ryan after Delpit went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. Ryan then went on to sign a one-year deal with the New York Giants. Earl Thomas, who was released by the Baltimore Ravens, remains available at the same position. Another former Ravens safety Tony Jefferson could stay within the AFC North by going to Cleveland, but his ACL surgery makes him uncertain to be ready for Week 1.
Will Myles Garrett Have a Career Year?
Myles Garrett, who made his first of what should be many Pro Bowls in 2018, is the leader of the defense. However, he is also well known for being suspended for his brawl with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph. The six-game ban ended his 2019 season after he had 10 sacks in 10 contests. Garrett will be hoping to set new career-highs in sacks and tackles as he enters his fourth year in the league. His previous bests are 13.5 sacks and 35 solo tackles in 2018.
Read Also: Cincinnati Bengals Predictions and Odds
Browns Special Teams Predictions
Cleveland enters 2020 with multiple 2019 All-Rookie Team selections: kicker Austin Seibert and punter Jamie “Scottish Hammer” Gillian.
The Browns hope that Seibert, who is also responsible for kickoffs, is here to stay after posting the team’s best field goal percentage (86 percent) since Travis Coos in 2015 (88 percent). Cleveland spent the No. 170 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft on Seibert, and they hope he stays for many years to come. Seibert elevated the Browns into the top 10 in field goal percentage in 2019.
Gillian, a fan favorite, began his rookie season in an impressive way, as he won the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month Award in September 2019. The 23-year-old native of Scotland had the fourth-longest punt and averaged the 10th-highest yardage per punt last season.
Browns Head Coach Predictions
Kevin Stefanski, who signed a five-year contract in January, enters his first season as an NFL head coach. He is coming from being the offensive coordinator in Minnesota to leading another strong offensive team in Cleveland. Kirk Cousins succeeded under Stefanski’s tutelage, and Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph succeeded as well.
There has been a bunch of talk this preseason centered around if Stefanski or offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will be calling the plays. Van Pelt did so during a scripted practice, but there has yet to be a final decision regarding play-calling for the regular season.
Stefanski and his coaching staff will hope to bring the Browns to the playoffs after expectations were high in 2019. Cleveland has the talent to make the postseason in 2020, but it remains to be seen if this team can put all the pieces together.
Browns Predictions for Week 1
In 2019, the Browns had a strong start to the season, which included an important victory over the Ravens. The Browns won, 40-25, and covered as Baltimore was a 7.5-point favorite at home. In the Week 4 matchup, the Browns amassed 530 total yards in comparison to the Ravens’ 395. Chubb ran for a career-best three touchdowns, and the Cleveland defense forced three Baltimore turnovers. Bettors won on the over, as the teams combined for more than 47 points.
Then in Week 16, they met again but were heading in the opposite directions. The 12-2 Ravens headed into FirstEnergy Stadium as the favorite and covered the 9.5-point spread to split the series. Behind three passing touchdowns from Lamar Jackson, Baltimore won its 11th consecutive game. The Ravens outrushed the Browns, 243 to 57 yards. The under covered, as fewer than 48.5 points were scored.
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Browns Predictions for 2020 Season
With the 2020 over/under for the Browns being 8.5 wins, the bookmakers are a bit resistant to buy into the second consecutive year of offseason hype. In 2019, the over/under was nine wins. Cleveland has not shown a strong track record recently, so bettors may be hesitant to find value with the Browns over, but I think the Browns will finish with nine wins. A 10-win season and multiple postseason victories are not too likely, but this seems to be the year for a breakout season from Mayfield, and Cleveland’s +4000 Super Bowl futures bet could be worth a shot as well.
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