On Sept. 8, the Cleveland Browns will try to show the NFL they are true playoff contenders. Talent aside, they still have a lot of ground to cover before they reach that level.
The new-look Browns possess the 23rd-ranked schedule, given their slate of 16 games. In one segment of this schedule, however, some problems could emerge.
Starting in Week 4, Cleveland will play four out of five games on the road. Those matchups are against the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, and Denver Broncos. Cleveland will host one game against Seattle and get a bye week as part of that five-game stretch.
The Lamar Jackson-driven Ravens should give the Browns a run for their money in a divisional battle on their home turf in Baltimore. The 49ers, with Jimmy Garoppolo, could push the Browns. Certainly the New England Patriots will show up to play Cleveland tough in Foxborough.
Can this team withstand midseason weariness… and, beyond the logistical challenge posed by this portion of the schedule, can it also endure any locker room or off-field complications?
Off-field drama doesn’t seem to be in the cards for this roster. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry have long relished the chance to play in the same receiver corps since their days at LSU. Baker Mayfield is a composed player who is respected as a leader in the locker room, even if Colin Cowherd would suggest otherwise.
Based off what we can gather, this seems like a well-tuned group that is capable of producing at a high level, even if there are a few potholes in the road in their first season together.