Last season was a long one for the Cleveland Browns.
After leveraging the farm to land DeShaun Watson and signing him to a massive, fully guaranteed contract, the Browns had to watch the NFL slap him with an 11-game suspension for breaking the league’s personal-conduct policy. That led to a 2-5 start.
Still, the Browns finished with a 7-10 record, including victories against all three AFC North rivals. So, there’s some hope in the Dawg Pound and in Ohio sports betting that the 2023-24 season could be more successful.
While the schedule does include games against the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars and two games each against the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens — all teams that made the playoffs last season — the Browns’ schedule sets up as one of the easier ones, according to last year’s records.
But an analysis by BetOhio.com — your source for Ohio sports betting apps — found that the Browns’ toughest stretches are at the beginning and end of the season.
We created a point system to determine the toughest three-game stretch of the Cleveland Browns’ schedule. For points, we awarded one to four points for each grouping of eight teams in the final standings from the 2022-23 season (Chiefs = four pts, Bears = one pt), two points for an away game, two points for a short week (going into a Thursday night game or coming off Monday Night Football), one point for a divisional opponent and one point for a primetime game.
Here is what we found:
Toughest Stretch of Browns’ Season
First, Last 3 Weeks Figure to be Tough
There actually are three 15-point stretches in the schedule. A Week 2-4 stretch ending with a home game against the Ravens also adds up to 15. So, too, does the final three weeks, which feature road games at the Houston Texans and Bengals sandwiched between a Thursday Night home game against the New York Jets. So, how the Browns fare at the beginning and the end of the season will go a long way in determining whether they can reach the playoffs for just the second time since the 2002-03 season.
The Browns currently are the third pick of Tipico Ohio Sportsbook in the AFC North.
Tipico has the Browns at +360 to win the division, behind the Bengals (+125) and Ravens (+240) but ahead of the Steelers (+600).
To make the playoffs? Tipico has the Browns at Yes (-105) and No (-117). Read more on the Browns’ playoff chances on this website.
The Browns Super Bowl odds are currently +3000, which is tied for the 11th-best odds in the NFL
Watson will be the key to the Browns success, but he also might be the reason why they fall short. Besides last year’s suspension, he also missed the 2021 season due to a falling out with the Texans and reports of sexual misconduct — the same conduct that led to his 11-game suspension. Not surprisingly, he posted career worsts in completion percentage, passing yards per game and quarterback rating after returning last season.
If Watson can return to the form he showed in his Texans years, the schedule lines up nicely to where the Browns could contend for a playoff spot.
If not, then it could be another long season by Lake Erie.
Remember to keep it right here at BetOhio.com for updates on the Browns, Bengals and all the pro teams in the state, as well as for Ohio sportsbook promos.