The Cleveland Browns are coming into the 2021 season with huge expectations. After surprising some people in 2020, winning a Wild Card playoff game on the road against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers, teams will be ready for the Browns this season.
On paper, there aren’t many rosters that look better than Cleveland’s. They are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, at every level on offense and defense as well. Baker Mayfield came on toward the end of 2020 and will get a boost from Odell Bekcham Jr. returning to the lineup.
Defensively, this team can get after the quarterback with Myles Garrett leading the charge and added Jadeveon Clowney to the mix for this season. Denzel Ward leads the defensive backfield for what is a stellar defense.
The Browns have a chance this season to cement themselves as legitimate contenders. They will have plenty of chances to do so this season. Here are the five biggest games on Cleveland’s schedule in 2021.
5. Week 10 @ New England Patriots
For much of the past two decades, the New England Patriots have been the example of what you want to build your team to be. Plenty of teams have tried, and virtually all have failed. If the Browns want to legitimize themselves, this is as good of an opportunity as any.
If the Browns want to push for a high seed, they will need to defeat some good teams. The Patriots have improved greatly this offseason and provide a great measuring stick game for the Browns about halfway through their season.
4. Week 16 vs. Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders have improved steadily since Jon Gruden took over as head coach. They want to get to where the Browns have gotten to heading into the 2021 season. As a result, this is a big game for the Browns.
Cleveland will have to get used to playing with a target on their back. For years, they have been the scrappy underdog looking to upset teams. That role will be reversed this season, as teams will be gunning for the Browns as a favorite more often than not. This game will also be pivotal in the AFC playoff picture.
3. Week 17 @ Pittsburgh Steelers
If the Cleveland Browns want to truly crash the AFC playoff picture, they will have to knock off some people along the way. The process began when they defeated the Steelers in the playoffs and will look to complete that process this season.
For years, Cleveland has been dominated by Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. With Roethlisberger’s career nearing the end, it is time for the Browns to knock Pittsburgh off their pedestal in the AFC North and take their place.
2. Week 1 @ Kansas City Chiefs
The Cleveland Browns 2020 season ended at the hands of the Chiefs, as they knocked them out of the AFC Divisional Playoff round. No better time than Week 1 for the Browns to avenge that loss and announce their presence to the rest of the league than going into Arrowhead Stadium and knocking off the two-time defending AFC Champions.
This game will go a long way in setting the tone for Cleveland’s season. They cannot afford another flat season opener like in 2020 when the Baltimore Ravens blew the doors off of them.
1. Week 12-14 against Baltimore Ravens
This stretch of games will could very well determine if the Browns are contending for an AFC North title or wild card spot. On Week 12, they visit the Ravens for their first meeting of the season. They will have a bye in Week 13 before hosting the Ravens for their second matchup of the season in Week 14.
If the Browns want to seriously contend for a division title, they have to split these games at the very least. Sweeping Baltimore could put them in the driver’s seat for the organization’s first division title since 1989.