Cleveland Browns overall prediction winner
The Cleveland Browns went a disappointing 7-10 last year and have the third best chance to win the AFC North in 2023.
Total Cleveland Browns Win Odds via BetMGM
Over 9.5 + 110
Below 9.5 -130
Current NFL Futures Odds
Summary of the 2022 season
The 2022 Cleveland Browns have been a chaotic and disjointed club for most of the year. Last season, they traded several draft picks for the former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Browns then signed Watson to a 5-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract. The problem was that Watson was suspended for the first 11 games of last season for off-field misconduct. That meant Cleveland had to leave professional backup QB Jacoby Brissett for the first 11 games of last year. Brissett and the Browns went 4-7 in those games. The team went 7-10 on the season and finished last in a competitive AFC North division. In the games Deshaun Watson played, he looked pedestrian, posting a mediocre stat line of 1,102 passing yards, 7 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, a 58.2 completion percentage, a 79.1 passer rating and a 38.3 QBR. The last three digits were all the lowest occupational level. How Watson plays will likely determine how good Cleveland is in 2023 in a tough AFC.
Preview of the 2023 season
Exit of key players: EDGE Jadeveon Clowney, RB Kareem Hunt, IDL Taven Bryan
Key players added: IDL Dalvin Tomlinson, S Juan Thornhill, EDGE Za’Darius Smith (trade), WR Elijah Moore (trade), C Ethan Pocic, WR Cedric Tillman (third round pick)
Outlook for the 2023 season
The Browns were looking to improve the offense around QB Deshaun Watson. They drafted Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman in the third round and Charlotte wide receiver Grant DuBose in the seventh round. In addition, Cleveland drafted Ohio State tackle Dawand Jones in the fourth round and signed former Seattle center Ethan Pucic in free agency. Cleveland also added disgruntled slot receiver Elijah Moore in a trade with the Jets, seemingly setting up Deshaun Watson for success in 2023. Last year’s Jerome Ford could provide value comparable to Hunt’s production last season. On paper, the Browns’ offense looks good, but it remains to be seen how well Deshaun Watson will ultimately perform.
On defense, Cleveland replaced Jadavion Clowney and inside linebacker Tavon Bryan with EDGE. Zadarius Smith and IDL Dalvin Tomlinson. If healthy, Smith could prove to be a clear upgrade from Clooney. But Smith is now 30 years old and just one season removed from 2021, where he played just 1 game and missed the rest of the season for the Green Bay Packers. Swapping Tavon Bryant (6’5″, 291 lbs) for Dalvin Tomlinson (6’3″, 325 lbs) gives the Browns more bulk up front, but when you consider Cleveland’s transition to a 4-3, This move is less logical. Defense under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. The Browns have outstanding pass rushers in Zadarius Smith and Myles Garrett, but neither is great against the run. Cleveland allowed 135 rushing yards per game last season, which ranked 25th in the league. Whether their front seven can consistently stop those two will have a big impact on how the Browns perform this season.
Key takeaways from coaching: Defensive coordinator Joe Woods, special teams coach Mike Priffer, quarterbacks coach Drew Petzing
Key Coaching Promotions/Extras: Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, special teams coach Bubba Ventron, senior offensive assistant Bill Musgrave, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt
The Cleveland Browns coaching staff was in need of a makeover after a disappointing 7-10 campaign last year. Browns general manager Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski didn’t hold back as they fired defensive coordinator Joe Woods and special teams coordinator Mike Priffer. Woods’ firing was no surprise as Cleveland’s defense ranked 28th in yards per score and 20th in points per game. Mike Priefer coached the Cleveland Browns to their only playoff win in 28 years in 2020 after Kevin Stefanski missed that game with Covid. Peripher was one of the kitchen staff and was very popular and respected in the city and the organization. The Browns’ problems in the kicking game likely sealed his fate as Cleveland kicker Cade York converted just 24 of his 32 field goal attempts while three of his kicks were blocked. Drew Petzing was the Browns’ quarterbacks coach last season, but left to become the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive coordinator. Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt adds QB coach to his list of duties, a role he previously held with the Browns, Bengals, Buccaneers and Packers.
The most notable addition to the Browns coaching staff is the defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Schwartz is the classic example of a great coordinator but a poor head coach. As head coach of the Detroit Lions, he went 29-51 over five seasons but made the playoffs in 2011. This season will mark Schwartz’s 15th season as an NFL defensive coordinator and his fourth in the role. His most notable achievement came in 2018, when he was the architect of the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl LII-winning defense. During his time in Philly, Schwartz’s defense improved slightly in Year 1 and improved greatly in Year 2. Schwartz runs a 4-3 defense, but Cleveland has run a 3-4 defense for years. There will likely be a bit of an adjustment period in 2023, and the Browns may still be trying to make consistent stops as they adjust their roster and players get used to the new system.
NFL Over/Under Prediction
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was one of the best quarterbacks in the league in 2020. That year he threw for 4,823 yards, 33 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, while averaging a league-leading 8.9 yards per pass and a 112nd passer rating. He wasn’t the last guy he was in his limited innings last season, and I’d be surprised if he becomes that guy again. Watson missed all of 2021 and most of 2022 due to unofficial and official suspensions. He and the Browns organization both took a lot of heat for the trade the team made and the contract he signed, and that pressure seemed to weigh on him last year. He might be good in 2023, but I bet he’ll be great.
When checking the over/under of an entire team, it helps to check the year-to-date trend and schedule. In the past 5 seasons, the Cleveland Browns have gone 7-8-1, 6-10, 11-5, 8-9, 7-10. This year’s total is 9.5. The AFC North might be one of the best divisions in football, with the Bengals, Ravens and Steelers all vying for playoff spots. The first half of Cleveland’s schedule is brutal as they face the Ravens twice, the Bengals once, and must play against San Francisco and Seattle in their first nine games. To make matters worse, the Browns have their Week 5 bye, which means they will have to play 13 straight weeks (with 7 road games) to finish the season. This number opened to 8.5 and I liked Andre. It’s since gone up to 9.5, which means I like the sub even better. I can’t see Cleveland winning 10 games this season, so I’m going to cave.
NFL OVER/UNDER WIN TOTAL PREDICTION: Cleveland Browns under 9.5 WINS -130