Now that the 2022 NFL schedule has been released for all 32 teams, Cleveland Browns fans can start in earnest their preseason prognostications.
The schedule seems somewhat tough, but the beginning and end of it are very manageable, and if the Browns take care of business in October and November, they could clinch a playoff spot sometime after the winter solstice.
OFFICIAL: The schedule is finally here❗️
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) May 13, 2022
But every team has at least a few very difficult games against Super Bowl contenders, and a few of them for Cleveland will help define its season.
Three of them in particular will really test the Browns’ mettle, skill and resourcefulness.
Week 5: Los Angeles Chargers
The first four weeks of the season will be relatively easy, but then things will rapidly ramp up for the Browns.
They will host the Chargers on Oct. 9, and it will be a contest that could either end up being ugly or triumphant for Cleveland.
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) May 13, 2022
L.A. barely missed the playoffs by the slimmest of margins last season, but it made some big additions this offseason, and its fans are thinking Super Bowl all the way.
Pass rusher Khalil Mack, who was recently acquired from the Chicago Bears, will team with Joey Bosa to pressure new Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, while Amari Cooper will have to overcome new cornerback J.C. Jackson.
A win over the Chargers would make a big statement to the rest of the league.
Week 12: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Until he proves otherwise, Brady is the NFL’s preeminent big-game player, and he has eons of experience to fall back on when he or his team is being challenged.
The good thing about this contest is that it will take place in The Land, which means the Browns will have the Dawg Pound there to cheer them on and try to manifest a statement win into existence.
Week 14: Cincinnati Bengals
Could this late-season contest possibly determine the winner of the AFC North?
This will be the second contest of the year between the Browns and the defending AFC champs, and it will take place down the highway at Paul Brown Stadium.
With all the ridiculous depth and talent throughout the conference, the only team in the AFC North that will make the playoffs will likely be the team that finishes first, and whoever loses this game on Dec. 11 may be hard-pressed to find a way to recover and still reach the postseason.
The Bengals are pretty much running it back, but as with all young teams that overachieve, there is always a chance that they regress a bit in 2022.
If they do, that will give the Browns a prime opportunity to play for a spot in Super Bowl LVII.