The Cleveland Browns rocked the NFL world with a trade for Odell Beckham Jr.
If you believe the oddsmakers, the Browns are now one of the favorites to win it all. But does that move, among the others made this offseason, truly make Cleveland a legitimate Super Bowl contender?
Talent galore: In addition to landing Beckham Jr., the Browns made other moves that give them more firepower on both sides of the ball.
- Obviously, pairing OBJ with Jarvis Landry gives Cleveland arguably the best receiving corps in the entire NFL.
- Controversy aside, landing Kareem Hunt (who may not be suspended as long as everyone thinks) boosts Cleveland’s run game significantly.
- Defensively, the Browns added pass rusher Olivier Vernon, who’ll be amazing opposite Myles Garrett — in a trade with New York. They also signed stud defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson in free agency. That’s a monster defensive line now in Cleveland.
The Baker Mayfield effect: Mayfield had a legendary first season as a pro and gave the entire city of Cleveland a jolt of energy, and much-needed hope.
- Mayfield brings raw passion and a natural-born leadership to his team, and his enthusiasm rubbed off in a big way last year. Expect that to only continue to grow in the coming years.
- His 27 passing touchdowns set a new NFL record for rookie quarterbacks, and Mayfield only played in 13-plus games.
- The Browns were rarely out of any game that Mayfield started last year.
- He’s very accurate and isn’t afraid to fit the ball into tight spaces. Now that he has both OBJ and Landry, one should expect his completion percentage to skyrocket.
The competition will be fierce: As much as Cleveland looks the part, the young Browns have some stiff competition in the AFC to even get to the Super Bowl.
- The New England Patriots remain the team to beat in the AFC until Tom Brady hangs up the cleats. And that might not happen for a while, still.
- The Houston Texans are extremely dangerous, as are their AFC South rival Indianapolis Colts.
- Even within their own division, the Browns will have to look out for the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, though both teams suffered big-time losses this offseason.
- The Kansas City Chiefs might just be the best team outside of New England in the entire NFL. They certainly have the most dangerous offense.
Clearly, there’s still a lot to overcome if Cleveland is going to make the playoffs, let alone win a Super Bowl. Yet it’s impossible not to be excited about the direction this organization is headed.
Answering the question: So, are the Browns really Super Bowl contenders?
Realistically, you’d be wise to hedge your bets. Personally, I fully expect the Browns to win the AFC North in 2019, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them win a playoff game or two.
Yet at this point, I’m not ready to say the Browns are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.