The Cleveland Browns endured the ultimate humiliation last season, failing to win a single match in their 16-game campaign.
Quarterback DeShone Kizer faced a baptism of fire in his rookie season after being thrown into the starting role by head coach Hue Jackson.
The decision proved to be disastrous as the rookie struggled immensely in the position, throwing 22 interceptions over the course of the season.
Cleveland found a way to lose every single one of their matches, even when victory was in their grasp, including overtime defeats to the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers.
Their loss at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers confirmed their winless campaign, joining only the 2008 Detroit Lions to have failed to triumph at least once in the modern era.
Jackson managed to retain his position as head coach, but general manager Sashi Brown past the price for the shambolic term. Former Kansas City Chiefs GM John Dorsey replaced Brown, bringing a number of new executives and scouts into the front office.
Cleveland used the trade market to make a move at quarterback by acquiring Tyrod Taylor from the Buffalo Bills. Damarious Randall and Jarvis Landry were also secured, while Carlos Hyde, Chris Hubbard and Mychal Kendricks were added during free agency.
With the first-overall pick in the 2018 Draft, the Browns selected Baker Mayfield to be their quarterback of the future. Mayfield may not play immediately, giving Jackson and Taylor time to turn around the Browns’ prospects, although an improvement has to occur this term.
The move for Taylor could be vital, although he has his faults. Last season, the Browns were competitive in the majority of their matches, only to be undone by a mistake by Kizer. Taylor does not make a lot of plays with the ball downfield, but he limits his interceptions, throwing just 16 in three seasons as Buffalo’s starter. He will provide a veteran presence at the position, while protecting Mayfield from the action, giving the rookie time to adjust to life in the NFL.
Cleveland will have a quality starter at the running back position with Hyde. He played well during his four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, although injuries limited his production at times. Should Hyde remain healthy, he could be in line for another solid season. Duke Johnson will ease the burden on his team-mate on third downs after developing into a fine pass-catching option out of the backfield. The Browns should lean heavily on his services this term.
The receiving corps is where the problems could emerge. Josh Gordon was reinstated after three years out of the game by Commissioner Roger Goodell. However, personal problems have sidelined him from the early days of training camp. He is an outstanding player on the field, although his off-the-field problems may limit what could have been a great career. Landry was one of the big moves being acquired from the Miami Dolphins then being handed a huge contact. He’s a slot receiver, but has to produce a lot more than he offered Miami in Cleveland to justify his deal.
There’s more pressure on the defense to emerge than Cleveland’s offense in 2018. This is because the club have invested a lot of resources into the unit, none more so than last season’s first-overall pick Myles Garrett. The defensive end had a solid rookie season, but now faces the challenge of building off his campaign to produce an elite level of play similar to that of JJ Watt and Von Miller. Both of those players had similar first terms to Garrett, only to soar to extreme heights in their sophomore seasons. Garrett has to lead the way on the line, although he will have support from Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib, Nate Orchard and Chris Smith.
The linebacking corps looks strong with the addition of Kendricks. He will provide vital depth to Gregg Williams’ unit alongside Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey and Pro Bowler Joe Schobert. All four linebackers have quality and the range to make plays across the field, while providing a strong support for the pass-rush. There’s enough versatility in the group to give Williams room to be creative to ease the pressure on the secondary, which could go through growing pains.
Cleveland used their second first-round pick in the top five to select Denzel Ward out of Ohio State. The college has produced some fine players in recent history, including Marshon Lattimore last season, who starred for the New Orleans Saints. If Ward proves to be as good as his former team-mate then the Browns have a high-calibre player at the cornerback position. That will help mould a secondary with Randall dropping into the safety position. The club will be hopeful of an improvement from Briean Boddy-Calhoun and also an impact from EJ Gaines in his first season in Cleveland.
The Browns should be on for an improvement as the only way is up from a winless campaign. An identical term would likely see mass firings all round given the quality of the roster. There’s no excuse for this team not to win at least six of their matches this season. As a result take the over on 5.5 wins at 888Sport with odds of -146 .
Taylor and Hyde alone in the backfield should be able to conjure enough points, while Garrett should be dominant on defense to win at least one match on his own. A failure would see the end of Jackson, which at odds of +275 at BetOnline could be an intriguing punt.
Landry has had two 1,000-yard seasons in his four-year career. He may have the opportunity to be the focal point of Cleveland’s offense therefore he needs to have another strong campaign. Back him to reach the landmark with BetOnline at odds of -110 . Gordon’s availability and unfamiliarity with NFL life may affect him on the field. He was a potent threat in the endzone before, but take the under on him scoring over five touchdowns at odds of +120 .
Optimistic Browns supporters could be tempted by the odds of +1200 with TopBet for the club to win a division crown for the first time since 1989. However, that should be beyond them this term with the presence of the Pittsburgh Steelers – second place could be within their sights though.
Cleveland Browns To Win Over 5.5 Matches
Jarvis Landry To Record Over 949 Receiving Yards
Josh Gordon To Record Under 5.5 Touchdowns