On Thursday, the 2022 season schedule for all 32 NFL teams was released, and fans can now look to the fall with hope and excitement while making some too-early predictions.
The Cleveland Browns and the Dawg Pound are very hopeful about the coming season, now that the team has replaced Baker Mayfield with three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson and acquired Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper.
But the AFC will be tough, and the Browns’ schedule will not be easy.
Some fans are looking at the Browns’ layout of games with optimism, while others are dreading possibly missing the playoffs again.
The Browns Have A Tough Stretch At Midseason
The first few weeks of the season seem easy enough, as Cleveland will open at the Carolina Panthers, then host the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers before heading south to face the Atlanta Falcons.
Then comes what could be a battering ram for the Browns.
Week 5 will see them host the new-look Los Angeles Chargers, and the following week they will play the New England Patriots.
Cleveland will then head on the road to challenge Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens before a home contest on Monday Night Football against the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals.
After their bye week, the Browns the upgraded Miami Dolphins, the mighty Buffalo Bills and the battle-tested Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Cleveland gets a reprieve against the Houston Texans before a road contest at Cincinnati and a home game against Baltimore.
That stretch will test the mettle of the Browns, and it could very well determine whether they return to the playoffs.
Our home schedule is brutal. And there’s always a game that we are supposed to win but we don’t, and there is a game we are supposed to lose but we don’t. That’s the Panthers and Bills games.
— marsh. (@Marshall_XXIII) May 13, 2022
— My Prediction (@Goodcall5) May 13, 2022
However, some fans are eternally optimistic, or they simply have lots more confidence now that the Browns seem to have a legitimate franchise QB and possibly their best in decades.
I think we are gonna start quick and rattle off 4 straight but this is a tough schedule and I see us having some real battles !! We end the season 11-6 and make the playoffs then anything is possible my Cleveland Browns family!!#Browns #NFL #brownstwitter#NFLScheduleRelease pic.twitter.com/LOB8xJfBXI
— The_Brownie_Elf (@TheBrownieElf1) May 13, 2022
— Ernest Clinkscale (@ErnestClinksca2) May 13, 2022
— Burley Gunner (@BurleyGunner) May 13, 2022
If Deshaun plays the entire year, this team shouldn’t lose more than 4 or 5 games with that schedule.
— Ramo Issata (@omieg89) May 13, 2022
— Charlie Eisenstat (@ThatPourGuy) May 13, 2022
The Biggest Key For The Browns?
Given what has taken place in the NFL this offseason, especially throughout the AFC, the Browns will have to likely win the AFC North in order to make the playoffs.
The AFC West has four teams that many feel have at least some sort of real shot at reaching the Super Bowl, and all four of their QBs are at least Pro Bowl-caliber.
Each team in the AFC West could make the playoffs in 2022, which would leave no other wild card spots elsewhere in the conference.
The Patriots and Dolphins should also have a good shot at the postseason, as could the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans.
The Browns need to especially zero in on the games they’ll have against division opponents, particularly the Bengals, whom many seem to be penciling in as the AFC North champs.
If Cleveland wins at least one of its two contests versus Cincinnati, and if Cincinnati has a bit of a letdown as the rest of the league catches up to what they did in 2021, it could open things up for Cleveland.
The fact that the Browns’ last three opponents look relatively easy could serve as a landing pad for a potential return to the NFL playoffs.