The Cleveland Browns are poised to build upon their successful 2020 season when they finished 11-5.
Winning the division is an achievement that has eluded the Browns since the divisional realignment that created the AFC North in 2002, but 2021 could be the year.
🔘 AFC East: Buffalo Bills
🔘 NFC East: Dallas Cowboys
🔘 AFC North: Cleveland Browns
🔘 NFC North: Green Bay Packers
🔘 AFC South: Indianapolis Colts
🔘 NFC South: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
🔘 AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs
🔘 NFC West: Los Angeles Rams
Any you disagree with? pic.twitter.com/VB3bms9zG2
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) July 16, 2021
Here are three reasons why the Browns can win the AFC North for the first time ever in 2021.
1. They Are The Most Talented Team
Many media personalities are on the Browns bandwagon this year declaring them the most talented.
Mike Greenberg of ESPN was the latest to come out and say this.
"The Cleveland Browns have the most talent of any team in the AFC. … And that includes the Kansas City Chiefs!"
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) July 19, 2021
Being the most talented team does not guarantee a division win, but it certainly helps.
The talent has to mesh together and play well as a team for the 17 game regular season to make a divisional title a more realistic possibility.
2. They Have The Most Depth
Some would call this a subpoint of the first statement.
Maybe that is true.
Where depth comes into play is in injury situations.
Injuries are an unfortunate reality for NFL teams.
The Browns under GM Andrew Berry have worked hard to build depth in the skilled positions to keep the momentum going if an injury occurs.
In 2021, the Browns have more depth than in 2020 when they were able to compete without key players who were either injured or unavailable for COVID-19 reasons.
Cleveland Browns the only team to score A or better the last 2 drafts
Andrew Berry,Paul DePodesta&scouts building us tough as hell
Elite evaluators&team loaded with top talent everywhere from free agents,trades&drafts
I'm jacked up pic.twitter.com/WxzaQRdcZn
— Kevin Kvasnok (@KevinKvasnok12) May 7, 2021
3. They Have The Most Advantageous Schedule
People are wondering what I mean when they look at the first game on the 2021 schedule and see the Browns travelling to meet the defending AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs.
The Browns and the Bengals have the most advantageous schedule against their divisional rivals.
This means they play fewer AFC North rivals at the end of the season when the divisional title will be on the line.
In the second half of the schedule, the Bengals and Browns each have three divisional games.
On the other hand, the Steelers have four divisional games in the final half of the season.
The Ravens have the toughest schedule with five divisional games in the last eight games of the season.
Biggest oddity of schedule is how backloaded it is on division games. Ravens don't play their first AFC North game until Week 7 and their second until Week 12. They play five of their last 7 games against divisional opponents.
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) May 12, 2021
They play both the Steelers and the Browns two times during that stretch including three consecutive weeks of tough divisional games beginning in Week 12 against the Browns followed by the Steelers in Week 13 and the Browns again in Week 14.
Of course, anyone can build the argument that any of the AFC North teams could build a huge lead, like the Steelers did in 2020, and no one will catch them at the end of the season.
That is possible; however, it is more likely that the division is going to be closely contended this year, and anyone could win it.
The backlog of divisional games at the end of the season could be mentally and physically grueling if a divisional title and playoff berth are on the line.
Winning in the NFL does have a degree of luck associated with it.
Peaking at the right time and not suffering serious injuries are ways that good teams end up winning divisional championships even if they were not predicted to win prior to the season.
We know the Browns have the roster so let’s hope they have the good fortune and luck mixed with it to lead them to their first AFC North title in franchise history.