Team Capsules: Cleveland Browns

August 11, 2023

A look at every NFL franchise heading into the 2023 season

© Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

On March 20, 2022, the Browns traded for quarterback Deshaun Watson. His $230-million, fully guaranteed contract is one of the richest in NFL history. Watson played six games in 2022 and only threw seven touchdowns.

Fans are expecting a lot more in 2023. Not just out of Watson, but out of the entire team. Last year, the Browns finished 7-10, last in the AFC North. This year, their over/under for wins is set at 9.0. The over would make the Browns a 10-win team.

At first glance, it feels as if there is no chance of Cleveland reaching double-digit wins. With the Bengals, Ravens and Steelers in their division, and the AFC being remarkably tough, it seems as if 10 wins would be impossible. But let’s not forget that Watson led the Houston Texans to the divisional round in 2020.

Not only that, but let’s take a look at who he has to work with. Nick Chubb is one of the best running backs in the league and had over 1,500 yards last season. Amari Cooper had 1,160 receiving yards and nine TDs last year. And most importantly, the Browns offensive line is composed of Jedrick Wills, Joel Bitonio, Wyatt Teller and Jack Conklin, all of whom are potential Pro Bowl selections this season. The defense has talent, as well, led by Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Grant Delpit, and newly acquired Z’Darius Smith.

There are of course a lot of question marks surrounding the Browns and rightfully so. However, counting out Cleveland on the list of teams that have a chance at the playoffs, would be a mistake.

What to like about the Browns…

  • The Browns currently have the seventh-highest over/under win total in the AFC. Yet they are more likely to miss the playoffs than to make them. Now, if they were to make the playoffs, it would likely be as a wild card team, as the Bengals are the runaway favorite to win the AFC North. Likely wild card teams include the Jets, Ravens, Dolphins, Chargers, Broncos and Browns. Anything can happen in the NFL, but those are the teams Cleveland will have to beat out for a wild card spot. The Browns do however have the advantage of an easier schedule as they finished last in the division.
  • Garrett is currently the second favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year honors at +700, behind just Micah Parsons of the Cowboys. He is a phenomenal player with game-breaking speed and agility. In 2022, he recorded 16 sacks. If he leads the league in sacks and the Browns defensive ranks in the top 10, it is more than possible for Garrett to take home the award.
  • Chubb is the odds-on-favorite to lead the league in rushing yards at +500. Last year, he totaled just over 1,500 yards and finished third in total rushing yards. It marked a career high for Chubb, as he seems to be getting better with each passing year. If he stays healthy, he has the capability of being a 2,000-yard back and could most definitely win the rushing title.

What not to like about the Browns…

  • Everyone wants the Browns to win the Super Bowl. In their 77-year history, they have yet to make it to the big game. Their title days came before it was invented. The diehard fan base is patiently awaiting their turn. It may be soon, but it won’t be this year. The Browns have the 12th -best odds to win it all at +2500. With the Chiefs, Bills and Bengals all in the AFC, it’s hard to imagine the Browns being able to compete with them just yet. It’s a long shot bet that has almost no chance of actually paying off.
  • Nine wins is a tough over/under. Not only is it likely that it could be a push, but it’s also a very benchmark number for most teams. Nine to 10 wins is the cutoff for playoff teams. And while the Browns definitely have the capability of being a 10-win team, it just seems too risky right now. Take the under instead at +105.
  • Let’s be honest, it would take a miracle for the Browns to win the AFC North. Joe Burrow and the Bengals have the third-best odds to win the Super Bowl and Lamar Jackson and the Ravens aren’t far behind. It feels like a two-horse race between those two, with the Browns falling just a bit short.

Steve Quinne’s Pick: Nick Chubb to lead the NFL in rushing yards (+500)

The best bet to make on the Cleveland Browns for the upcoming 2023 season is for Nick

Chubb to lead the league in rushing yards. At 5-to-1 odds, the payout will be significant. Not only is it a fun future to track during the season, but it’s also the best guy to have. Not betting on him to win the rushing title would be a mistake.