By BARRY GOODRICH
Come September, Cleveland will once again be transformed into Browns Town for the start of the NFL season. And this year, the league will be capitalizing on the hype surrounding the team by scheduling the Browns for three primetime games.
Cleveland’s schedule is ranked as the eighth toughest in the NFL based on last year’s combined records of this season’s opponents (123-131-2). And while the Browns are actually favored to win the AFC North Division, there are more than enough challenging games as the team hopes to finally return to the post-season playoffs.
The first month of the season will indicate if the Browns are, in fact, for real. The home and season opener with Tennessee is followed up by Cleveland’s return to Monday Night Football as the two teams that kicked off MNF in 1970, the Browns and the Jets, play at the Meadowlands.
Cleveland can’t afford to be any worse than 1-1 heading into week three, when the Browns welcome the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams to town for a big Sunday Night Football contest. The month closes out with a road game at Baltimore, a game that always has built-in motivation for Cleveland fans and players.
Things really get interesting in October, when the Browns make the long trip out to San Francisco to take on an improved 49ers team on Monday Night Football. Cleveland returns home the following week to go up against an always tough Seattle Seahawks club before the Browns get a well-deserved bye week.
Many NFL experts feel the Oct. 27 game at defending Super Bowl champion New England will show just how far the Browns have come or how much work they still have left to do. Slotted for a late afternoon start, Tom Brady vs. Baker Mayfield should produce plenty of drama.
Cleveland will need to have a big month of November if it wants to win a division crown. After a trip to Denver to start off the month, the Browns have three straight home games with Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Miami. The Steelers game, always circled on the calendar, is a Nov. 14 Thursday Night Football contest and the two teams will meet again just two weeks later in Pittsburgh.
The December portion of the 2019 schedule appears to be the most favorable with two games against struggling Cincinnati, a road contest at Arizona and the home finale against The Ravens on Dec. 22.
Will the Browns make their long-awaited return to the playoffs in January 2020? Stay tuned.
CLEVELAND BROWNS 2019 SCHEDULE
9/8 – Tennessee (1 p.m. CBS)
9/16 – at New York Jets (8:15 p.m. ESPN)
9/22 – Los Angeles Rams (8:20 p.m. NBC)
9/29 – at Baltimore (1 p.m. CBS)
10/7 – at San Francisco (8:15 p.m. ESPN)
10/13 – Seattle (1 p.m. FOX)
10/20 – Bye
10/27 – at New England (4:25 p.m. CBS)
11/3 – at Denver (4:25 p.m. CBS)
11/10 – Buffalo (1 p.m. CBS)
11/14 – Pittsburgh (8:20 p.m. FOX/NFLN)
11/24 – Miami (1 p.m. CBS)
12/1 – at Pittsburgh (4:25 p.m. CBS)
12/8 – Cincinnati (1 p.m. CBS)
12/15 – at Arizona (4:05 CBS)
12/22 – Baltimore (1 p.m. CBS)
12/29 – at Cincinnati (1 p.m. CBS)