The 2015 Schedule: What’s it Mean for the Cleveland Browns?
Obviously, many things will change for every franchise from now until the regular season opener – most notably the NFL Draft. Additionally, there are injuries, rookie growing pains, and the luck of playing the right team at the right time. All that said, let’s preview the schedule for the Cleveland Browns.
When thinking about the exhibition, I first believed I would be underwhelmed with all four meetings. However, there could be a storyline or two during this time period and even some excitement. The finale against the Bears is the annual game where only one or two starters could be playing (Brian Hoyer and Isaiah Crowell are a few examples), but a majority getting playing time will not make the final roster. Which guy will stand out for the orange and brown, not only here – but also many weeks later?
The opener against the Redskins will likely be scrutinized, as it will be the first time Johnny Manziel will be back in the spotlight. Will he be the 2015 starter? Is the signal caller be auditioning to simply remain with the team? It will be interesting to see how he performs for the home crowd.
Against the Buccaneers is really hit-and-miss, as the opponent could have their new signal caller play a little or lot in this matchup. I would like to see Manziel out-duel Jameis Winston (provided he’s on the Buccaneers’ roster); that matchup alone be enough to give me reason to watch.
Facing the Bills on Thursday night will be the game I’m looking forward to most in the preseason. The ample roster turnover by both teams, plus the hiring of Rex Ryan (Mike Pettine’s mentor) will create a story of intrigue. Knowing that the Browns are just as good as, if not better than, the Bills is what I want to feel after this contest.
Weeks One Thru Eight
On paper, this appears to be the much less daunting portion of the Browns’ schedule. They open up on the road against the Jets, have the Ravens away, and the Broncos at First Energy Stadium. While those could be tough contests, they are far from guaranteed losses. Toss in some underachieving non-division foes in this part of the schedule – and I actually might feel a sense of confidence heading into the second half of the campaign. Playing two West Coast teams (the Raiders and Cardinals) here at 1:00 P.M. Eastern time shouldn’t hurt either.
Weeks Nine Thru Seventeen
The main reason why this portion is tougher – the Browns play the AFC North five of the eight matchups. This includes four contests in a row, with a bye week sandwiched in the middle. Away contests at Seattle and Kansas City will be extremely tall orders for this club; I might be pulling for some sort of magic to occur for the orange and brown. Hopefully they can finally score some upsets here and finally make it past week seventeen.
Conclusion: Overall, the 2015 schedule is rather similar to the one we saw last season – a tad easier in the earlier months and a gruesome stretch to closeout the campaign. A ton can happen from now and September, hopefully my faith in the Browns increases heavily after draft weekend.