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Cleveland Browns schedule and 2021 season predictions

Are the Cleveland Browns pretenders or contenders? Now that their 2021 schedule is out, let's go through each game and see how they're likely to fare.

Cleveland Browns schedule takeaways:

  • The Browns face the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1 of the NFL season.
  • Their Week 13 bye is set between difficult matchups against the Baltimore Ravens (Nov. 28 and Dec. 12).
  • Sportsnaut predicts the Browns will end the season with an impressive 13-4 record.

The Cleveland Browns have overhauled their defense and have one of the NFL’s best rosters entering the 2021 season, but will that translate to a top playoff seed?

At least on paper, Cleveland has all the pieces in place to contend for a Super Bowl. Overcoming years of futility seems almost insurmountable, but the Browns showed signs last season that they’ve moved past that and into a flourishing new era.

Cleveland Browns schedule predictions, roster outlook

Let’s take a look at the team’s complete 2021 schedule and make predictions for each game.

Cleveland Browns schedule and 2021 predictions
Nov 4, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) and Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) shake hands after the game at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Browns roster outlook

All our predictions are based on the Browns keeping and starting these key players:

  • QB – Baker Mayfield
  • RB – Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt
  • WR – Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Anthony Schwartz (rookie)
  • TE – Austin Hooper, David Njoku, Harrison Bryant
  • DefenseBrowns ranked No. 4 this week

Rashard Higgins will battle supreme sprinter Anthony Schwartz and Donovan Peoples-Jones for snaps as the No. 3 wide receiver. Odell Beckham Jr. is still recovering from a knee injury, so that trio will have plenty of chances to make a strong impression before the season.

Cleveland Browns 2021 preseason schedule

DateOpponentTime (ET)TV
Saturday, Aug. 14@ Jacksonville Jaguars7:00 PMNEWS 5
Sunday, Aug. 22vs. New York Giants1:00 PMNEWS 5
Sunday, Aug. 29@ Atlanta Falcons8:00 PMNBC

This season the NFL is lowering the amount of preseason games to three per team, and instead expanding the regular season to 17 games, rather than the traditional 16 games.

Week 1 – @ Kansas City Chiefs

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Sept. 124:25 PMCBS
  • Spread: Chiefs -6 (via DraftKings)
  • Moneyline: Browns +215; Chiefs -275
  • Over/Under: 52.5

The Cleveland Browns schedule starts with a difficult tilt against last year’s Super Bowl runners-up, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Thanks to massive upgrades on their offensive line, the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs offense should be as dangerous as it’s ever been in 2021. Cleveland’s best efforts to counter that won’t be enough, as Kansas City can now get tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire rolling, which will put too much pressure on the Browns to ultimately keep up.

  • Week 1 prediction: Chiefs 35, Browns 20

Week 2 – vs. Houston Texans

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Sept. 191:00 PMCBS

Houston has the worst roster in all of football. The talent gap here is vast. Any questions?

  • Week 2 prediction: Browns 48, Texans 3

Week 3 – vs. Chicago Bears

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Sept. 261:00 PMFOX

Whether it’s Andy Dalton, Nick Foles or rookie Justin Fields starting at QB for Chicago, this is a tough assignment. Dalton and Foles flat-out can’t get it done, and Fields could make more plays with his legs, but will probably stumble into a critical error. The Bears’ defense can keep Cleveland in check, but not well enough for an upset.

  • Week 3 prediction: Browns 26, Bears 13

Week 4 – @ Minnesota Vikings

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Oct. 31:00 PMCBS

There’s a huge familiarity factor here. Browns coach Kevin Stefanski spent his entire career in Minnesota before becoming the reigning NFL Coach of the Year. The edge goes to Cleveland, though, due to vastly superior talent on defense and Mayfield being more of an off-schedule playmaking threat than Kirk Cousins.

  • Week 4 prediction: Browns 30, Vikings 17

Week 5 – @ Los Angeles Chargers

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Oct. 104:05 PMCBS

Because the Chargers have a new wizard of a defensive coach in Brandon Staley, he should have some tough wrinkles to throw at Browns QB Baker Mayfield. Having an edge at the most important position on the field with Justin Herbert gives Los Angeles the edge here in what should be a phenomenal matchup.

  • Week 5 prediction: Chargers 34, Browns 28

Week 6 – vs. Arizona Cardinals

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Oct. 174:05 PMFOX

A fascinating matchup, because Arizona has a loaded front seven headlined by Chandler Jones, J.J. Watt, Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins. The Cardinals should be able to throw some exotic looks at Cleveland, but the Browns will ultimately prevail to maintain a perfect home record.

  • Week 6 prediction: Browns 29, Cardinals 27

Week 7 – vs. Denver Broncos (TNF)

DateTime (ET)TV
Thursday, Oct. 218:20 PMFOX/NFLN

The quarterback situation in Denver is anywhere from unsettled to unspectacular. Vic Fangio can coach up that defense all he wants, but unless a better trigger man for the offense comes around, its young skill position talent will go to waste in 2021. That spells another Browns victory.

  • Week 7 prediction: Browns 24, Broncos 16

Week 8 – vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Oct. 311:00 PMCBS

Pittsburgh’s offensive line just isn’t good enough to hold up against the Browns’ revamped front seven. They also now have the players to match up with the Steelers’ excellent young cast of pass-catchers. Cleveland safety John Johnson III is going to play a huge role in the secondary’s improvement, and could grab an interception in this one.

  • Week 8 prediction: Browns 29, Steelers 20
Cleveland Browns schedule and 2021 predictions
Oct 25, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) and quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) celebrate the come from behind victory in the waning seconds against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Week 9 – @ Cincinnati Bengals

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Nov. 71:00 PMCBS

Joe Burrow‘s offensive line isn’t good enough to handle Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney. Cincinnati’s promising receiving corps will have trouble against Cleveland’s upgraded secondary. Oh, and the Bengals can’t stop a nosebleed on defense, because their front seven is awful.

  • Week 9 prediction: Browns 38, Bengals 20

Week 10 – @ New England Patriots

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Nov. 141:00 PMCBS

These aren’t the typical powerhouse Patriots we used to see under Tom Brady. They don’t even know who’s going to start under center between Mac Jones and Cam Newton. That’s a recipe for disaster, and regardless of who it is, the Browns’ far superior offense and defensive firepower should overwhelm Jones or Newton in Foxborough.

  • Week 10 prediction: Browns 23, Patriots 10

Week 11 – vs. Detroit Lions

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Nov. 211:00 PMFOX

Detroit has a mammoth undertaking as it tries to rebuild its roster. In the meantime, Jared Goff is at the controls of the offense, and he had maybe the most ideal circumstances under which to succeed in 2020 and was awful. He’ll be in serious trouble against Cleveland’s D.

  • Week 11 prediction: Browns 37, Lions 9

Related: If you’re a fan of the Browns, check out #Browns rumors, rankings, and news here.

Week 12 – @ Baltimore Ravens (SNF)

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Nov. 288:20 PMNBC

The Cleveland Browns schedule takes them to Baltimore in Week 12. It was a shootout the last time these two teams met, and Cleveland got a lot better defensively since then. However, Lamar Jackson is still a game-breaker thanks to his amazing speed, and he has a superior cast of receivers to throw to in 2021, led by first-round pick Rashod Bateman. That should help Baltimore eke out a home win.

  • Week 12 prediction: Ravens 35, Browns 31

Week 13 – BYE

Week 14 – vs. Baltimore Ravens

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Dec. 121:00 PMCBS

Something about home cooking and the fact that the Ravens beat the Browns in their house toward the end of the 2020 season in an absolute thriller should give Cleveland a sort of vengeance X-factor here. Look for the Browns to put together perhaps their most complete defensive performance of the year in this one.

  • Week 14 prediction: Browns 31, Ravens 13

Week 15 – vs. Las Vegas Raiders

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Dec. 19TBDTBD

Jon Gruden is a great offensive coach, and Derek Carr can light up the scoreboard. The problem is, Las Vegas can’t stop anyone, and continues to whiff on defensive player acquisitions. That’ll continue to cost the Raiders against the AFC West and other quality teams like the Browns.

  • Week 15 prediction: Browns 41, Raiders 28

Week 16 – @ Green Bay Packers

DateTime (ET)TV
Saturday, Dec. 254:30 PMFOX, NFLN

This score projection will drastically change if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t return as the Packers’ signal-caller. Presuming he is there, though, Rodgers should do just enough in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field to help Green Bay escape with a clutch “W” over Cleveland.

  • Week 16 prediction: Packers 28, Browns 27

Week 17 – @ Pittsburgh Steelers (MNF)

DateTime (ET)TV
Monday, Jan. 38:15 PMESPN

The Steelers bizarrely opted not to address their offensive line in the draft or in free agency in any adequate fashion. As a result, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be a sitting duck, the rushing attack will continue to flail despite Najee Harris’ arrival. Even Pittsburgh’s mighty defense won’t be enough to keep the team in games consistently.

  • Week 17 prediction: Browns 27, Steelers 14

Week 18 – vs. Cincinnati Bengals

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Jan. 91:00 PMCBS

The Cleveland Browns schedule ends with a matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. And if you look at any position group on the two rosters, the Browns are superior in every area. That’s usually not a recipe for success for the team on the wrong end of that heads-up comparison.

  • Week 18 prediction: Browns 45, Bengals 21

Cleveland Browns record prediction: 13-4

Related: Everything you need to know about the 2021 NFL season