The Cleveland Browns want to use the 2019 season as a mulligan and they made that clear by aggressively addressing the one area that held them back the most last season -- the offensive line. With their two most important assets (their first-round draft pick and their salary cap space) they acquired two offensive tackles who should be ready to start in Week 1. While this gives Cleveland a much better chance of competing and living up to their prior expectations, it also eliminates all of the excuses we've heard to explain the team's disappointing 2019 campaign.
The Browns were once again a team in transition this offseason. In addition to the roster improvements, the Browns hired general manager Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski. With the fulfillment of the offensive line and the addition of more skill talent, quarterback Baker Mayfield has no excuse not to succeed entering year three. No one knows how the shortened NFL offseason will prevent the team from coming together and implementing the new playbook this season.
What we can answer for you is exactly how the Browns schedule will play out -- week by week. Below, we'll break down the 2020 schedule by week and pinpoint all of the prime-time games to keep an eye on. We'll also dive into the Browns' strength of schedule, what we project as their toughest stretch of games, and more. Without further ado, let's dive right into it.
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- Week 1, Sep. 13: at Ravens, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
- Week 2, Sep. 17: vs. Bengals (Thursday Night Football), 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network
- Week 3, Sep. 27: vs. Redskins, 1 p.m. ET, Fox
- Week 4, Oct. 4: at Cowboys, 1 p.m. ET, Fox
- Week 5, Oct. 11: vs. Colts, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
- Week 6, Oct. 18: at Steelers, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
- Week 7, Oct. 25: at Bengals, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
- Week 8, Nov. 1: vs. Raiders, 1 p.m. ET, Fox
- Week 9: BYE
- Week 10, Nov. 15: vs. Texans, 1 p.m. ET, Fox
- Week 11, Nov. 22: vs. Eagles, 1 p.m. ET, Fox
- Week 12, Nov. 29: at Jaguars, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
- Week 13, Dec. 6: at Titans, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
- Week 14, Dec 14: vs. Ravens (Monday Night Football), 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
- Week 15, Dec. 20: at Giants, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
- Week 16, Dec 26/27: at Jets, TBD
- Week 17, Jan. 3: vs. Steelers, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
The Browns will open up the season on the road against Baltimore. Cleveland was able to steal one of the Ravens' two regular season losses. The former first-round picks enter an all-important third season in their careers. In Week 2, Mayfield and the Browns will host Joe Burrow and the Bengals on Thursday Night Football.
There really is no insurmountable stretch on Cleveland's schedule. A few tough games are always broken up by a team that struggled last season. In an effort to pick one four-game stretch, I will point to the final four games against the Ravens, Giants, Jets and Steelers. It has little to do with the teams from New York; although they should be improved.
If Cleveland is going to take that next step this season, then they need to knock off the kings of the hill. Baltimore and Pittsburgh have ruled the AFC North for so long. Those games could determine who represents the division in the NFL Playoffs.
As noted above in the schedule breakdown, the Browns will be playing two prime-time games in 2020. They will have one on the road and one at home. In 2019, the Browns played in four prime-time games. Cleveland traveled to play the Jets and 49ers on Monday Night Football. They hosted the Rams and Steelers on Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football.
Strength of schedule
Earlier this offseason, John Breech broke down the 2020 strength of schedule for all 32 NFL teams based on combined opponent winning percentage in 2019. The Browns will face the fourth-easiest strength of schedule in 2020. For a complete look at every team's strength of schedule, .
However, when basing strength of schedule on the over/under win totals for each team's opponents during the 2020 season at William Hill, the Browns go from facing the fourth-easiest schedule in the league to facing the fifth-easiest. For a complete look at every team's strength of schedule using this methodology, check out Jared Dubin's full breakdown here.