The Cleveland Browns are averaging 38 points per game in their four-game winning streak, which is pretty amazing when you consider they are a run-based offense, one that leads the league in rushing yards.
Credit for that goes to first-year coach Kevin Stefanski, who brought to Cleveland an offense that is predicated on running the football and throwing off of that run. It has helped Baker Mayfield in a big way — even if he threw two bad picks in the victory over the Indianapolis Colts Sunday — and it's made the offense click.
When I talked to Stefanski last summer when he was the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, I came away impressed with the way he handled himself, and my impression was that he was guy who would instill a toughness and discipline to whatever team hired him. Stefanski grew up in the Philadelphia area and he seems to still have some of that attitude. Cleveland badly needed that after last season, and now they are seeing the results.
The offense is clicking with the ground game keying it all, while the defense has the talent to continue to improve, especially in pass rusher Myles Garrett. The Browns, yes, those known-for-losing Browns for much of the past 20 years, are up to sixth in my Power Rankings this week. Their fast start had some doubters until Sunday, when they beat a good Colts team to get to 4-1.
Now they head to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers in an enormous, early-season division game. The Browns have won one game at Heinz Field, that coming in 2003. So win this week, against a good Steelers team, and they will be a lot higher in the Power Rankings. They might also then be considered a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
|They come off their bye as the best team in the NFL with the best offense. Plus, they are getting Davante Adams back. They do face a tough road game at Tampa.||1||4-1-0|
|At 4-0, they sit atop the AFC North heading into a big early-season game with the Browns. The pass offense is coming alive.||1||5-0-0|
|With the game on the line, Russell Wilson is magic in the fourth quarter. His drive to beat the Vikings was classic. But the defense has major issues.||2||5-0-0|
|The defense fell flat against the Raiders. One other thing that is showing up is the poor play by the offensive line. It just hasn't been as good.||3||5-1-0|
|They still haven't clicked on offense yet. The defense was impressive against the Bengals last week, but they need more from the offense.||1||5-1-0|
|Are the Browns for real? We will know for sure this week if they beat the Steelers on the road.||4||4-2-0|
|They are 4-0 and had to navigate a tough two weeks to blow out the Bills Tuesday night. Mike Vrabel is an early Coach of the Year candidate.||--||5-0-0|
|They got caught in a tough situation because of the Titans' COVID-19 issues, and it showed. Now they have to try and regroup against the Chiefs.||4||4-2-0|
|They are 4-1. Nobody can take that away from them, even if it hasn't always been pretty. Beating Tampa Bay was a nice victory.||5||5-1-0|
|They have dominated the NFC East to get to 4-1 to open the season. Sean McVay has this team playing well, and they are the class of the NFC West.||1||4-2-0|
|The offensive injuries showed up in the loss to the Bears. The extra time off had to be good for this team as they ready to play the Packers.||3||4-2-0|
|They were able to rally against the Chargers, but this team hasn't looked like a Super Bowl team yet. The defense has too many issues for that.||--||3-2-0|
|Philip Rivers has to play better. His turnovers were killers against Cleveland. This team could be 5-0 were it not for his mistakes.||4||4-2-0|
|COVID has impacted them in a big way. But the postponement of their game with the Broncos actually might help since Cam Newton should be back.||1||2-3-0|
|It's time to take notice of the Panthers. Teddy Bridgewater is playing well and the young defense is improving.||--||3-3-0|
|The Jets were the perfect tonic for a team that needed to get back on track. Losing Chandler Jones is a tough one to take.||--||4-2-0|
|Give props to the Raiders for winning a big division road game at Kansas City. Derek Carr played well, and the offense is fun to watch. But the defense will be what decides how far they go.||--||3-2-0|
|Dak Prescott is lost for the season, which means Andy Dalton is in as the starter. With the way the defense is playing, he's going to have to chuck it around a lot.||2||2-4-0|
|Give Brian Flores credit. This team competes hard and winning at San Francisco is a nice step for a young team.||7||3-3-0|
|Even at 1-3-1, they are far from out of the division race. They showed some fight in Pittsburgh.||2||1-4-1|
|This team hardly looks like the one that played in the Super Bowl just over nine months ago. Injuries have crippled the roster.||2||3-3-0|
|They aren't winning games, but they have their long-term answer at quarterback in Justin Herbert. That matters a ton.||1||1-4-0|
|They come off the bye with a game at Jacksonville. Matt Stafford hasn't been great, but the Jaguars defense should be the perfect tonic.||1||2-3-0|
|They are 1-4 and in big trouble, but they played well at Seattle. The Dalvin Cook injury isn't a good thing for the run-based offense.||1||1-5-0|
|They were forced to have their bye last week, and now must travel to play the Patriots this week. Drew Lock should be back.||3||2-3-0|
|Joe Burrow found out against the Ravens that it can be tough sledding in his division games without protection. The offensive line has to be better.||2||1-4-1|
|The firing of Bill O'Brien helped this team get some juice, but they still need to play better than they did against Jacksonville. At least Deshaun Watson played better.||2||1-5-0|
|Dan Quinn is out, but does it matter? They lack talent in a lot of spots - mostly on defense. It's not getting fixed this year.||1||1-5-0|
|They competed against the Texans, but their kicking woes cost them any chance to win it. Their defense is bad and has injuries. That's not a good combination.||--||1-5-0|
|No matter who plays quarterback, they are a bad team. Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen or Alex Smith aren't saving this team.||--||1-5-0|
|They came close against the Cowboys, but they still can't win a game. There are signs of progress, which is a good thing. Can they get their first victory against Washington this week?||--||1-5-0|
|It's now all about whether Trevor Lawrence will be their first pick. They aren't winning a game this season. They are bad.||--||0-6-0|