The Cleveland Browns are heading into the 2021 NFL season looking to make some serious noise in the AFC. After making a run to the playoffs last season, the Browns upset their division rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in the Wild Card round. Unfortunately, they came up short against the Kansas City Chiefs to end their season.
All in all, the 2020 season was a huge success for the Browns. New head coach Kevin Stefanski was impressive as a leader and the future could not be brighter with him leading the way. Both sides of the football have loads of talent on the roster and plenty of room to continue improving.
Heading into the 2021 season, the Browns are hoping to see another step in the right direction from quarterback Baker Mayfield. He has shown superstar flashes, but must be more consistent moving forward. Around him, the Browns are expecting big things from the main supporting cast of Nick Chubb, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, and Austin Hooper.
Defensively, the Browns have to feel good about the talent they have put together. Led by Myles Garrett, this defensive unit has big-time potential and should improve a lot off of last season.
Let’s dive in and take a look at four bold predictions for the Browns entering the 2021 NFL season.
4. Austin Hooper Is MUCH More Productive
Last offseason, the Browns made a big move to sign Austin Hooper in free agency away from the Atlanta Falcons. Hooper had been one of the most productive tight ends in the league the year before. In his first year with the Browns, Hooper was only able to rack up 46 receptions for 435 yards and four touchdowns.
With a full offseason of work and better chemistry with Mayfield, fans should be expecting a much bigger season from Hooper in his second year with the Browns.
We are predicting that Hooper will end up with at least 60 receptions for 650 yards and seven touchdowns. Those numbers would provide the Browns with another lethal offensive weapon. Hooper could be a major X-Factor for Cleveland this season.
3. The Browns End Up Winning The AFC North Division
As is the case in almost every single season, the Browns are playing in one of the toughest divisions in football. Going up against the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers is never an easy task, and the Cincinnati Bengals also made major improvements this offseason.
However, even with the improvements within the division, the Browns are going to come out on top. Last year, they finished with an 11-5 record, which was good enough for third place in the AFC North. This season, they will win the division title.
Beating out the Steelers and Ravens is no easy task, but the Browns are talented enough on both sides of the ball to do so. Fans in Cleveland should be excited about the upcoming season and that excitement will pay off.
2. Odell Beckham Jr. Finally Provides Superstar Impact
In his first two years with the Browns, Odell Beckham Jr. has struggled to get things going. Last year, he ended his season prematurely with a torn ACL. While fans are not getting their hopes up this year, Beckham will finally provide the superstar impact that Cleveland thought they would be getting when they traded for him.
Beckham has totaled 97 receptions for 1,354 yards and seven touchdowns in the 23 games he has played in two years with the Browns. This season, he will come closer to doubling those numbers.
Our projections have Beckham catching at least 85 passes for 1,150 yards and eight touchdowns. He will be out to prove himself with a chip on his shoulder. That will power him to his first big season with the Browns.
1. Baker Mayfield Forces His Way Into The MVP Conversation
Finally, the most important aspect of the 2021 season for the Browns will be the play of franchise quarterback Baker Mayfield. At 26 years of age, Mayfield has shown star potential, but there have been too many consistency issues. This will be the year that Cleveland finally sees a consistent star version of their quarterback.
Mayfield will complete at least 65 percent of his pass attempts for 4,200 yards, 35 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions or fewer. Those numbers will force his name into the MVP conversation.
Over the last couple of years, Mayfield has began the season as a potential dark-horse MVP candidate. His play hasn’t lived up to the hype though. In 2021, he will change all of that and will play like one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.