CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – You’d think finishing with the NFL’s worst record in consecutive seasons would net the Browns a break from the football gods – or at least the schedule makers.
It won’t and didn’t.
Although the official schedule for the 2018 season won’t be released until mid-April, the Browns will have the fifth most difficult road in 2018 according to ESPN stats and information.
Cleveland’s 2018 opponents were a combined 134-122 in 2017 – a .523 win percentage tying them with the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle on the schedule difficulty meter – and 5 teams (New Orleans, Carolina, Atlanta, Kansas City and Pittsburgh) qualified for the playoffs.
During their 0-16 season the Browns’ opponents were a combined 133-123 in 2017 and 4 teams (Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Minnesota and Jacksonville) on the schedule made the postseason which does not seem to bode well for the hopes of a dramatic turnaround next season.
The Browns will host the Chargers, Chiefs, Falcons, Jets, Panthers and travel to Denver, Houston, New Orleans, Oakland and Tampa Bay on top of home and home games against the AFC North.
According to ESPN, the Ravens have the 21st most difficult slate while the Steelers are tied for the 25th and the Bengals have the 29th toughest schedule.
One might ask, how on earth is that possible?
It’s because they have the 0-16 Browns on their schedule counted twice, meaning 32 losses easily skew the strength of schedule metrics for them.
In addition to the Nos. 1 and 4 overall picks, Cleveland boasts 6 of the top 65 selections in the upcoming NFL draft and an estimated $110 million-plus in salary cap space this offseason.