The Dawg Pound in Cleveland has been through a lot in the 21st century, from 18 years of no playoffs to making the AFC…
There isn’t a team in the NFL with more question marks surrounding them currently than the Cleveland Browns, so let’s see what we can decipher.
The Browns’ running game has been their strength and the thing they have leant on for the past few seasons.
They averaged over five yards per carry last season and the combination of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt remains hard to beat.
With the uncertainty around their quarterback and who will be there, the Browns are going to lean on their run game more heavily than usual.
The glaring hole for the Browns looks to be their pass catchers, considering three of their four starters aren’t there this year (Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and Austin Hooper).
They did trade for Amari Cooper who adds star power, but I look at their second and third receivers with great concern.
Considering they will be without Deshaun Watson for a period of time, can this group make enough plays for back-up Jacoby Brissett?
Player to watch
Denzel Ward was given a US$100 million extension, making him the highest paid cornerback in the NFL and he has earned it.
Ward was the only cornerback in the NFL last season with three or more games with three or more pass breakups and has become notorious as one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
I think he can put himself in the conversation next to Jalen Ramsey (LA) and Jaire Alexander (GB) as the best cornerback in the league.
Who’s under pressure?
John Johnson III was signed by the Browns on a lucrative contract last off-season to be the anchor of the secondary at safety.
However, statistically he regressed in every category apart from interceptions last season with the Browns compared to 2020 with the LA Rams when he was All-Pro. The Browns will want to see him recapture that All-Pro form this season.
They are the hardest team to project considering the uncertainty that surrounds the Deshaun Watson situation.
Will he be suspended for six games, or ten games, the season? We just don’t know.
They have the talent on their defence to win them games but with a below average passing game and potential to play Jacoby Brissett all season, I am being very cautious.
Win-loss prediction: 7-10.