After an emotional return to action in Houston, he faces division rivals Baltimore and Cincinnati back-to-back.
New Orleans could be another playoff contender in Week 16, followed by games against Washington and Pittsburgh.
Cleveland might need a solid performance and a good number of wins from Jacoby Brissett to make the playoffs.
the team has confidence in Jacoby and he's ready to prove why pic.twitter.com/gFnJcardhC
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 19, 2022
Brissett has never finished a season with a winning record.
But he has never had a solid offensive line in front of him, nor as powerful and diverse of a running game behind.
If the former Colt and Dolphin is motivated by negative press, he might get the Browns off to an 11-0 start.
But the reality is probably far less, and that begs the question, “Can the Browns make the playoffs in 2022?”
Can The Offense Click?
Kevin Stefanski is a bigger variable for this offense than his quarterback.
Will Stefanski try to force the passing game into existence even with the game managing-backup in play?
Jakeem Grant‘s loss kills plans to use him more in the passing game.
And it removed the Browns’ primary insurance policy against a slow-developing Anthony Schwartz.
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) August 14, 2022
If Cleveland can not extend the field with a fast receiving threat, teams will play receivers tight against Brissett.
And Stefanski’s tendency to abandon the run against stacked boxes could lead to a 2021 redux.
Watson, coming off a long layoff and facing fierce taunting from the crowds, is no lock to light things up on his return, either.
Another veteran speedster is likely to join the team after final cuts, but this offense has questions heading into September.
Will The Other Units Help?
Andrew Berry didn’t do much to inspire hope from the Browns’ interior line.
In fact, Cleveland’s pass rush doesn’t seem improved at all from their pedestrian look of 2021.
Joe Woods’ secondary remains its strength and should allow him to get creative with his front 7.
Hopefully, someone will step up and stand out from among the rookies and free agents added to the unit.
— Fred Greetham (@FredGreetham9) August 16, 2022
And maybe Woods will chance a few more blitzes and stunts as his corners force quarterbacks to hang on a second longer.
Meanwhile, special teams took a hit with the loss of Jakeem Grant and continues to search for its returners.
But the Browns’ offense and defense could be helped by the addition of 2 pairs of big legs.
Punter Corey Bojorquez and rookie kicker Cade York will affect some decisions from Stefanski.
Can The Browns Make The Playoffs?
Jacoby Brissett is not getting a lot of love from the NFL Power Rankings analysts.
NBC Sports and NFL.com dropped the Browns all the way to number 22 in their rankings with Watson missing only 6 games.
Analyst Dan Hanzus of “Around the NFL” said the Browns are likely to run more than ever in a pass-dependent league.
Noted ESPN analyst Peter King had the Browns at #16 before the Watson suspension.
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) August 15, 2022
But there is one football writer who believes in Cleveland: PFF’s Sam Monson.
While his early top 10 ranking will likely drop, Monson called Cleveland a playoff team even without Watson.
We agree with Monson because solid defense and improved special teams can keep the Browns in wild-card contention.
And better decision-making with Brissett in a short passing game helps the rushers push the Browns into the postseason.