The Cleveland Browns are in the midst of the playoff race in the AFC. Read that again. Yes, it’s true. Inclement weather and a somewhat easy schedule may have to do with it, but Cleveland is 7-3. As the NFL nears its crunch time of the 2020 season, the Browns need to maintain momentum to make a playoff push. Here are some predictions on how may play out for Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns.
Cleveland Browns Predictions: Remaining 2020 Schedule
Week 12: @Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville sits at 1-9, far removed from the playoff race. Quarterback Gardner Minshew has missed three games with a thumb injury. Though his replacement, Jake Luton, hasn’t been terrible, the Jaguars just have nothing on their roster or in their scheme that scares opposing teams.
The Browns will be ecstatic to play in Jacksonville after three weeks of awful football weather in Cleveland. Though they’ll be without Myles Garrett for a second straight week (He’s on the COVID-19 Reserve list) the defense should have little trouble controlling an uninspiring Jaguars’ offense.
Prediction: Browns 27 Jaguars 13
Week 13: @Tennessee Titans
The Browns week 13 matchup in Tennessee is the biggest remaining game on the schedule, as far as seeding goes. Cleveland, Tennessee, and the Indianapolis Colts all sit at 7-3. Indianapolis stands atop the AFC South via tiebreakers, and Tennessee currently holds the top Wild Card spot, with Cleveland in the second spot.
This game will be a ground and pound affair. Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt may very well combine for over 400 rushing yards. This game will be Baker Mayfield’s chance to prove to the Browns that he is the definitive answer at quarterback for the foreseeable future. Though he has flashed at times, it remains to be seen whether he has a big late-season victory in him.
Prediction: Titans 31 Browns 24
Week 14: Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens are reeling. They’ve lost three of four and have a date with the 10-0 Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday. They are 6-4 and on the outside of the AFC playoff picture. Assuming the Steelers get the job done and win Thursday, Baltimore will be in desperation mode. They will come into Cleveland needing a win in Week 14.
Baltimore dominated Cleveland to the tune of a 38-6 beatdown in week 1. However, these are not those Baltimore Ravens. Their defense looks beatable, the run game isn’t the entity it was last season and Lamar Jackson has still yet to win a game he wasn’t leading after one quarter.
Look for the Browns to come out firing in this one and try to catch the Ravens on their heels. Couple the passing attack with a whole lot of Chubb and Hunt, and the Browns could steal a win to fortify their playoff hopes.
Prediction: Browns 28 Ravens 27
Week 15: @New York Giants
The current state of the NFC East will have the Giants competing for a playoff spot in this game. Daniel Jones has flashed some talent this season, but he turns the ball over far too often. He’s turned it over 15 times in 2020 through 10 games.
Couple Jones’ turnover problem with a Cleveland Browns defense that ranks second in the NFL in takeaways and the Giants could be in for a long night.
Prediction: Browns 34 Giants 20
Week 16: @New York Jets
The Jets are the NFL’s worst team. They have a genuine shot at going 0-16. They’d be the first team to do so since, guess who? The Cleveland Browns in 2017, under Hue Jackson. Though quarterback Sam Darnold may be back by week 16, the Jets haven’t inspired much optimism in any game this season.
A blowout victory in this one is more an indictment of the New York Jets than it is a compliment to the Browns, but nonetheless, a blowout is coming. Mayfield and his pass-catchers could very well have career days in this one.
Prediction: Browns 38 Jets 17
Week 17: Pittsburgh Steelers
The changes to the NFL’s postseason rules may hurt the Browns in this one. Only one team in each conference is awarded a bye during the first week of the playoffs. In the AFC, the Steelers will likely be fending off the Kansas City Chiefs for that coveted bye. It’s essentially a guarantee that both teams will be in the race for the bye week in week 17.
The Steelers may also be looking to finish off a 16-0 season against the Browns in week 17. They sit at 10-0 currently, the best start in franchise history.
The Steelers have a group of wide receivers that the Browns may not be able to handle. Denzel Ward will likely shadow Diontae Johnson, which leaves a combination of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool and James Washington to hurt the Browns all over the field. Even if Greedy Williams is back on the field by that point, Cleveland is overmatched on paper against Pittsburgh. A combination of explosive offensive plays and stifling defense will be too much for the Browns in this one.
Prediction: Steelers 31 Browns 17
If the schedule plays out in this fashion for the Browns, they’ll end the season at 11-5. That is more than likely enough to occupy a Wild Card spot in the AFC and go to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. A lot rests on the shoulders of Baker Mayfield, but the one-two punch of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt coupled with forcing turnovers on defense should be enough to drag the Browns to an 11-5 record.
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