The Cleveland Browns enter 2021 with great expectations.
Though the Super Bowl has been mentioned often in the offseason, it is the ultimate goal.
There are steps along the way that can help the Browns achieve that goal.
One of those potential steps is finishing with the best record in the AFC.
Is that possible for the Browns team of 2021?
Let’s take a look from the buy and sell viewpoints.
The Browns have been called the most complete roster in the NFL in 2021.
"I think the Browns are the most complete team in the NFL. Not just the AFC, in the NFL."
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) May 6, 2021
Whereas defense was an issue in 2020, GM Andrew Berry made the necessary draft picks and free-agent signings to improve it so the Browns can dominate in all facets of the game.
The Browns finished 11-5 last season with a less talented team and fewer expectations.
While one game does not make or break a season, the Browns could get an immediate confidence boost if they come out and defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1 at Arrowhead.
The team could take the momentum from a victory over the Chiefs and just roll through the season and end with the best record in the AFC.
The AFC was competitive last season, and the same teams are expected to be as competitive in 2021.
The Kansas City Chiefs went 14-2.
They are defending Super Bowl Champions.
Their QB earned a half-billion dollar contract.
They're favored to win the Super Bowl again.
No one "forgot" about the Kansas City Chiefs. They are not underdogs.
— Ken Carman (@KenCarman) January 27, 2021
Kansas City finished 14-2 in 2020, and the Chiefs are the defending AFC Champions.
Like the Browns, the Chiefs made necessary offseason changes to upgrade the offensive line and protect quarterback Patrick Mahomes so there is no reason to believe the Chiefs will not be in the hunt for the best record and a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance.
The Buffalo Bills are a team on the rise after finishing 13-3 last year and winning two playoff games before losing to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game.
AFC East rival Pittsburgh jumped out to a dominant 11-0 record in 2020; even if they do not have the most loaded roster on paper, the team plays tough and competes each season.
Like the Browns, the Ravens, Titans, and Colts also finished 11-5 in 2020 and will be competitive in 2021.
Another double-digit winner was the Miami Dolphins who finished 10-6.
Strength Of Schedule Does Not Favor The Browns
A look at the strength of schedule for each team for the 2021 season. Where does your team fall? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/Mr6oiVlCcs
— NFL Canada (@NFLCanada) May 13, 2021
If there is any credence to the strength of schedule rankings, the Browns have the ninth most difficult schedule in 2021.
That does not bode well for finishing with the best win and loss record in the AFC.
Also consider that the Chiefs, Titans, Bills, and Colts have easier schedules than the Browns.
Of last year’s playoff teams, only the Steelers and Ravens have tougher schedules than the Browns.
There is also the COVID-19 factor that affected teams in 2020.
OPT-OUT DEADLINE AT 4 PM: Will more @Patriots players sit out the 2020 season? Right now, New England has 8 players, the most of any NFL team, that decided to opt out over COVID-19 concerns. @boston25 pic.twitter.com/22nFwCqoOg
— Kelly Sullivan (@ksullivannews) August 6, 2020
Losing 8 players who opted out for COVID-19 reasons changed Coach Bill Belichick’s team considerably.
Everyone expects the Patriots to be more competitive in 2021; finishing 7-9 is an anomaly that Belichick will definitely correct.
It is a tall task to have the best record in the AFC after 17 regular-season games; let’s see if the Browns are up to the task starting in September.