With their huge 41-35 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns have moved into the Super Bowl Contender conversation on most sports media platforms. This could be a just conversation, if a few more things fall into place down the stretch, the offense continues to fire on all cylinders, and the defense, who held Derrick Henry to 60 yards, continue to stifle opposing offenses, then the sky is truly the limit! Three of the next four weeks should end up being a huge swing in the argument one way or the other.
First up the Baltimore Ravens at home on Monday night! A huge match-up under the primetime lights. This game alone should way heavily on the SB contender talk. The Ravens coming off a tough loss to the Steelers with most of their team being manned by back-ups. They are getting a majority of those starting players back, and they are going to be even more eager to right their own ship and push their way into the playoffs!
The Browns are going to have to meet them head-on, and continue doing what has brought them this far. Their two-headed juggernaut of a running game, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have become a lethal one-two punch in the backfield, racking up over 1500 yards rushing and 11 TDS this season. The Ravens, however, have only allowed just over 1200 rushing yards and 8 TDS on the ground all season; so, the battle in the trenches is going to be a good one.
Baker Mayfield is showing us he can win the “Big” game, but under the bright lights of primetime Monday, that is all kinds of different pressure! Mayfield has really been spreading the ball around nicely as of late, accumulating over 2400 yards passing with 21 TDS and only 7 INT for the season. With Odell Beckham Jr. out with an injury, Mayfield seems much more comfortable dishing out receptions to his remaining receivers! The Ravens defense has been more vulnerable to the passing game this season.
The Browns’ defense is really going to have their hands full trying to keep Lamar Jackson contained and limit his big runs that can really break open a game. With Myles Garrett leading that Cleveland defense. Monday night, Dec. 14th is shaping up to be a great contest and go a long way to silencing the critics!
Next up is a visit to the New York Giants! The Giants themselves are surging ahead in their own right. After handing Seattle another loss, the Giants are turning a corner, and when Daniel Jones returns, this could prove to be another worthy matchup for the Browns; however, if the Browns play their game, stick to the run, and Mayfield continues to find the open receiver, I see them taking care of business in New York.
The third of four games is the New York Jets! Here is another game that if the Browns play their game, keep their heads, don’t look ahead to week 17, this one should be another check in the win column.
Then the Pittsburgh Steelers come to town. We know the Steelers are beatable; we saw that Monday night; however, the Steelers have always had the Browns’ number. That stingy Steeler defense will have a lot to say about the outcome of this one; but, with the way the Browns played the Titans and the chink in the armor showing in the Steelers, the Browns should be primed to get the victory at home.
The Browns are firmly in the playoff hunt at the fifth seed in the AFC and are guaranteed a winning record. I truly see them making the playoffs and winning a playoff game, but I have a hard time believing that they are Super Bowl contenders at this time. If things change over the next four weeks, they might change my mind!
Stats by NFL.com