The NFL schedule release is another landmark event for fans of every team around the league. Optimism runs high regardless of an organization’s expectations, as everyone begins the season with the same record and chance at success. For the Cleveland Browns, fans and pundits around the league are feeling extremely confident regarding their ability to improve on their run to the divisional round of the playoffs from a season ago. Here is a look at the most intriguing games on Cleveland’s 2021 regular season schedule.
Week 1: @ Kansas City
The Browns’ schedule begins with a bang, as Cleveland will travel to Kansas City for a rematch of last year’s AFC Divisional round of the playoffs. While Cleveland will debut a defense with nearly all new starters for the exception of Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward, Kansas City will feature a reworked offensive line, with newly traded for Orlando Brown making his debut at left tackle, and recently signed left guard Joe Thuney formerly of the Patriots. Cleveland will look for a dose of revenge by attempting to dominate time of possession with a superior run game.
Week 6 vs Arizona
This matchup features two former Oklahoma Sooner quarterbacks who also won the Heisman trophy during their college careers. Kyler Murray has quickly established himself as an elite dual threat playmaker during his first two seasons, and should be a tremendous challenge for what should be an improved Browns defense. Arizona’s potent offensive attack was only amplified with the addition of Deandre Hopkins, who should see coverage from Denzel Ward all afternoon long.
Week 8 vs Pittsburgh
Cleveland does not play their first divisional game until their Week 8 showdown with arch rival Pittsburgh. The Browns will look to prove that their playoff victory at Heinz Field was not a fluke, while the Steelers will try and regain control of the rivalry. Pittsburgh’s offseason was highlighted by the drafting of former Alabama running back Najee Harris and retaining of wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuester. The Steelers’ inability to consistently run the football played a major part in their demise from a season ago, giving Harris the potential to play a major role from day one.
Week 12 @ Baltimore
The first of two matchups with division rival Baltimore will be played on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Cleveland’s new look defense should make life more difficult for Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who took advantage of the Browns’ lack of team speed in seasons past. Look for Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah to play a crucial role in these matchups, as his ability to control the middle of the field defensively gives Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods a new wrinkle to throw at the run happy Lamar Jackson.
Week 16 @ Green Bay
Cleveland will travel to historic Lambaugh Field for a Christmas Day tilt with the Packers. Granted Aaron Rogers is still in green and yellow, this has the potential to be an extremely compelling late season matchup. While Green Bay’s offseason has been filled with questions surrounding Aaron Rogers’ future, he will remain an extremely legitimate threat to opposing defenses if he decides to continue his playing career. Green Bay resigned running back Aaron Jones to a long term deal this offseason, giving Rogers a crucial weapon if he is to return. A late season battle between Rogers and Baker Mayfield would definitely be a terrific Christmas gift for football fans.