The Cleveland Browns are heading into the 2021 season with some high expectations. After defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card Round and giving the Kansas City Chiefs all they could handle in the Divisional Round, many people think they are a dark horse team for the Super Bowl.
Cleveland has a deep roster on both sides of the ball and a great coaching staff led by Kevin Stefanski. In his second season at the helm, things should get only better.
The team made major strides offensively in 2020, as Baker Mayfield began to find his groove. What is in store for the offense in 2021? Here are three bold predictions for that side of the ball this season.
3. Team Is Top 10 In Total Offense
In the first season under Kevin Stefanski, the Browns improved their offense greatly. After finishing 22nd in points and yardage under Freddie Kitchens in 2019, they improved to 14th and 16th in 2020. This year, they will take an even bigger leap and finish top-10 in both.
The Browns offensive line is one of the best in the league, which helps keep Baker Mayfield upright in the backfield and open running lanes for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. With all the weapons the team has offensively and with a full offseason, they will be one of the better units in the NFL.
2. Five Players Will Break 500 Yards Receiving
The Browns have one of the best running games in the NFL with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. They finished third in the NFL in rushing yards in 2020, trailing only the Baltimore Ravens, who have a quarterback in Lamar Jackson that runs for 1,000+ yards, and the Tennessee Titans, who have Derrick Henry.
While they will still be a ground-based attack on offense, Baker Mayfield will build upon the momentum he built at the end of the season in 2021 and the passing offense will open up a bit.
Mayfield will spread the ball around and at least five players will be finishing the season with 500+ receiving yards. Only two players, Jarvis Landy and Rashad Higgins reached that plateau in 2020, but that number will go up this season.
Odell Beckham Jr. will be back, healthy and ready to produce. Austin Hooper should be a bigger part of the offense, as will Donovan Peoples-Jones. A receiving back like Kareem Hunt can break that threshold as well.
1. Break Their Franchise Record For Points
The franchise record for points scored by the Cleveland Browns is 423 during their first year in existence in the AAFC. In the NFL, the most points for a season is 415 in 1964. The 2021 Browns will break both of those records this season.
This is a deep, talented offense that will move the ball better this season than they did in 2020. There are some explosive offenses around the league and if Cleveland wants to contend, they will have to keep up.
Having the same head coach for consecutive seasons will only help Mayfield take his already improving game to the next level.