Despite it all, the Cleveland Browns have one of the most dedicated fan bases in the entire world.
Their belief and dedication to the team has never faltered, even in the midst of historical losing streaks and winless seasons.
It’s a fanbase that never stops cheering.
Even when there is nothing to cheer for.
In the wake of a 3-5 start to the season, the fanbase’s spirit remains strong and hope is on the horizon.
The Browns may be back two games in the AFC North and have one of the toughest remaining schedules.
Toughest remaining schedules, according to ESPN FPI:
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) November 2, 2022
But, even with what’s stacked against them, there are plenty of reasons to still believe the Browns can make the playoffs.
1. The defense is starting to figure it out
There has been a lot of talk about Joe Woods and his shortcomings as a defensive coordinator this season.
Getting in my first Fire Joe Woods tweet of the night
— John (@JohnHillbery) October 31, 2022
Through the first six weeks of the season, his secondary was porous and his run-stopping game had issues stopping anyone on the ground.
But in the last two weeks, Woods has turned it around.
His defense has gotten after the quarterback, they’ve allowed fewer big plays downfield and they’ve kept runners in the backfield.
It’s amazing to watch this defense the last two weeks. Completely opposite of what we saw the first 6 weeks. Maybe it’s a good thing they gave Joe Woods a chance to fix things. #Browns
— Dustin Fox (@DustinFox37) November 1, 2022
A lot of it can be attributed to Myles Garrett, who looks like he is finally primed to win Defensive Player of the Year.
The highest-graded player in football this season:
Myles Garrett 🟠 pic.twitter.com/KbJww4EUoJ
— PFF (@PFF) November 2, 2022
But the turnaround is mostly due to the defense returning to old schemes that worked and placing personnel where they play best.
Like he was last year, John Johnson III is the green dot, working as the ‘QB’ of the defense.
Sione Takitaki has been finding success at Mike– the same position he played in college.
And they’ve positioned newly acquired Deion Jones as a quasi-QB spy, the same position he played when he helped take the Falcons to the Super Bowl.
If the defense can continue finding success in old schemes and allowing players to be themselves, it should install that much more hope that the Browns can have a winning season.
2. The offense has been consistently great
The defense may now just be figuring itself out, but the offense has been on top of its game since week one.
The Browns offense ranks fourth in the NFL in EPA and seventh in TDs per game. Incredible.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) November 1, 2022
Through eight weeks, the Browns have ranked amongst the best offenses in efficiency, yards and scoring.
The run game has been absolutely elite– with even Derrick Henry giving Nick Chubb a nod.
Mike Tirico, "How's the best running back on the planet?"
Derrick Henry, "That's Nick Chubb."
— Brent Sobleski (@brentsobleski) November 7, 2022
Jacoby Brissett has been the backup QB of dreams, only kept everything together, but even taking the game into his own has for a few big moments.
And with Deshaun Watson set to return in three short weeks, it’s fair to believe that this offense will get even better.
As long as the offense can keep the tempo up, the playoffs shouldn’t be out of reach for too much longer.
3. The AFC North is still up for grabs
“Lucky” and “the Browns” are rarely ever used together in the same sentence.
But, in 2022, the Browns are lucky no other team is running away with AFC North title.
— Sarah Ellison (@sgellison) November 1, 2022
They are only two games behind the Ravens, who have had their one share of issues this season and may even consider themselves “lucky” to be at the top of the division right now.
The Browns, who are 2-1 in the division right now, can easily catch up and make the division theirs, even in a few short weeks.
The Browns are 2-1 in the AFC North. Deshaun Watson will start the last 3 division games. If the Browns can find a way to win 2 of the next 3 games…
— Football Chopz (@Pchopz_) November 1, 2022
The Ravens may have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the NFL.
But they are far from a complete team and will likely stumble in at least a couple of “easy wins.”
If the Browns can just take care of their own business, they should be in good shape come the end of the season.