Cleveland Browns: Tough Challenges with 2015 Schedule


The 2015 NFL season schedules were released on Tuesday night and already there are dozens of tweets predicting premature doom for the Cleveland Browns.

Yes, the 2015 season looks pretty tough. The new schedule features a smorgasbord of powerhouse teams.

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All told, 12 of the team’s 16 games are against teams with a winning record in 2014. Of those teams, the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers were all in playoff contention (along with all of the Browns’ AFC North rivals).

The other two winning teams, the San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Rams were hardly easy outs last year.

But there’s some upside to the schedule too.

First of all, the first three games of the season are against the Browns’ ostensibly weakest opponents (at least at this point in the season, on paper.)

The team opens in New York, facing the Jets under new head coach Todd Bowles. They then host the Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders. While the Jets have made huge off season splashes, neither the Titans nor the Raiders have changed their rosters dramatically. There’s plenty to like about this soft opening to the season. It gives the Browns a great opportunity to build up some confidence and shake off the rust with some (theoretically) easier opponents.

Dec 28, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cleveland Browns tight end

Jordan Cameron

(84) catches a pass in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

After that though, the schedule increases in difficulty. First the team travels to the West Coast to face the Chargers, then returns to play the Baltimore Ravens.

The Browns also host the Broncos and Cardinals and visit the Rams, Bengals (on Thursday night) and Steelers before going on break the week of Thanksgiving – a nice treat to be able to spend the holiday with family, watching other teams play.

Then there’s an unusual streak of three home games in a row, including a Monday night prime time home game against the Ravens. It’s the first time since 2009 that the Browns have hosted a Monday night game.

Coming fresh off the bye into a prime time game to kick off a home stand is a great advantage for the second half of the season.

And the Browns may need it to face the Bengals, 49ers, Seahawks, Chiefs and Steelers to close out the season.

Yes, there’s a few favors in the schedule – an easy ramp up and nice mid-season bump. Overall though, this will be a challenging season.

At least, on paper.

The Browns lost a few pieces like tight end Jordan Cameron and defensive end Jabaal Sheard. But they answered some of the outstanding questions by signing solid veterans. They didn’t make splashy trades but some of the existing holes have been shored up.

The draft in two weeks will answer some more questions.

Now the question of who each team’s opponents will be and who the obstacles to the playoffs are has been answered. And remember, this is all just paper. Plenty of room for surprises.

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