Late last week, the NFL released the 2023 schedule and the Cleveland Browns now know when they will play their opponents in this upcoming season. It will be a brutal battle within the division and there are only three wildcards to be had in an extremely talented AFC. But the Browns still have a shot to make the playoffs and win the division. Today, Right Down Euclid will break things down weekly for Cleveland and give a final prediction for where things will end for this iteration of the Browns.
Sept. 10 vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland opens up things at home against Joe Burrow and the in-state and divisional rival Cincinnati Bengals. Sure, Burrow is 1-4 all-time as the signal caller for the Bengals against the Browns. Burrow has never won in Cleveland either, with his latest loss coming on Halloween last year in a 32-12 blowout. Nevertheless, Cincinnati is a legitimate Super Bowl contender heading into this year and shouldn’t be taken lightly heading into this matchup.
In the past, the Bengals’ biggest issue was their inability to protect Burrow from pressure. Since coming into the NFL, Burrow is the second-most sacked quarterback, with Cincinnati allowing their star to be hit 124 times. To keep Burrow upright going forward, the Bengals signed Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to a four-year, $64 million deal. Adding Brown beefs things up for Cincinnati and gives Burrow plenty of time to thread the needle with his star-studded receiving corps. It makes the Bengals a legitimate threat to win it all this season.
Cincinnati is more than equipped to match Cleveland blow for blow on offense. So, it will come down to the defensive battle and for newly-signed Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to dial up the pressure on Burrow and company. If Myles Garrett or Za’Darius Smith are able to get to Burrow, Cleveland could keep the young star winless on the shores of Lake Erie. But, with how solid the Bengals are, it’s easier said than done for the Browns.
Final score: Cincinnati 30, Cleveland 24
Sept. 18 at Pittsburgh Steelers (Monday Night Football)
The Browns stay within the division in Week 2 and head to Acrisure Stadium to face the Pittsburgh Steelers as a primetime early season headliner. Similarly to the Bengals, the Steelers have invested in their offensive line this offseason – which should keep Kenny Pickett upright and add some dimension to their running game. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh’s investment came through the NFL Draft instead of free agency and rookie tackle Broderick Jones will have to deal with Myles Garrett – one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.
If the defense can dial up the pressure and keep Pickett under constant duress, then Cleveland can lean on its running game on offense to control the clock. Nick Chubb is one of the best running backs in the NFL and Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski has been consistently creative in finding ways for Chubb to dominate. Add Deshaun Watson’s wrinkle on both the ground and in the passing game, and Cleveland should get their first win of the season with relative ease.
Final score: Cleveland 28, Pittsburgh 14
Sept. 24 vs. Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans are a team entering a retooling rather than a full-scale rebuild. Sure, the bones are still there from a team that’s only several years removed from reaching the AFC Championship Game. But Ryan Tannehill can only get you so far as your franchise quarterback and Derrick Henry has a ton of mileage on his body. The Titans are just too one-dimensional as a team offensively to be truly effective which should make life easier for the Browns on defense.
Mind you, this won’t be a walk in the park for Cleveland either. Again, the bones are still there of a championship-caliber squad and Mike Vrabel, the visionary behind Tennessee’s defense, is still calling the shots from the sidelines. Vrabel is one of the best coaches in the NFL and will have his defense prepared to handle the Browns on offense. Expect a grind on either side of the ball, but somehow, Cleveland picks up their second win of the season.
Final score: Cleveland 14, Tennessee 7
Oct. 1 vs. Baltimore Ravens
After much drama and speculation, Lamar Jackson is entrenched as the franchise quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens. Overall, Jackson is 6-3 against the Browns in his career and with new offensive weapons at receiver and coordinator Todd Monken calling the shots, this will be a new experience for both teams. If Jackson cannot beat you with his legs, which he has a history of doing, he will try to kill you with his arm instead.
New receiving duo Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers add depth and dimension to a Ravens attack featuring Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman as targets. Baltimore will be volatile on offense this upcoming season and it’ll be another tough matchup for Jim Schwartz to try and contain. Sprinkle in J.K. Dobbins and it could be a sprint to try and keep up with the Ravens if the Browns fail to contain Baltimore’s multifaceted attack.
But it might not be a sprint and could instead be a powerwalk. This game should be close since history seemingly indicates that’s how these matchups will go. Either defense will grind it out but, unfortunately, the Ravens having a ton of new options on offense gives them a slight edge.
Final score: Baltimore 23, Cleveland 20
Oct. 8 – BYE
Oct. 15 vs. San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers will be the most difficult for Cleveland in an already tough gauntlet of early-season opponents. The 49ers have one of the best defenses in the NFL and, despite the uncertainty at quarterback, are just as lethal on offense. This game could be a tactical battle between Cleveland’s Kevin Stefanski and San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan. Unfortunately, Shanahan is seemingly always a step ahead of his opponent, Stefanski included. The Browns drop this one at home, losing their second game in a row.
Final score: San Francisco 27, Cleveland 17
Oct. 22 at Indianapolis Colts
After several tough matchups, the Browns get a brief reprieve as they head on the road to face the rebuilding Indianapolis Colts. The biggest question for Indianapolis will be if Anthony Richardson is the quarterback. The Colts have the pieces to assemble a strong running game so long as their offensive line can hold. A healthy Jonathan Taylor would also make a big difference, but it could be problematic if the Browns have to account for Richardson as well.
Indianapolis also possesses one of the NFL’s stronger rushing defenses which will force Cleveland to throw the football. Thankfully, the Colts lack talent on the edge to apply pressure to Deshaun Watson in the pocket. This should allow Watson plenty of time to find his receivers and pick apart Indianapolis on defense.
Final score: Cleveland 24, Indianapolis 10
Oct. 29 at Seattle Seahawks
For the second week in a row the Browns are on the road, taking their longest trip to take on the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are a fascinating team considering they flipped Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos and kept winning with Geno Smith under center. Clearly, Deshaun Watson is the more talented quarterback compared to Smith. But Seattle has a ton of talent at every skill position from D.K. Metcalf to Kenneth Walker III to counterbalance some of Smith’s weaknesses.
Rookie corner Devon Witherspoon across from Tariq Woolen could be a formidable pairing for the Seahawks and at this point in the season, they have had plenty of time to gel. It could be difficult for the Browns to get their passing attack going in Seattle and, in turn, become one-dimensional on offense. After a strong win against the Colts the Browns drop this one on the road.
Final score: Seattle 27, Cleveland 20
Nov. 5 vs. Arizona Cardinals
If you squint hard enough, the visiting Arizona Cardinals will look like the Ohio State Buckeyes out there. Nevertheless, the Cardinals are an already bad team entering a full-blown rebuild. There isn’t much to say other than the fact that the Browns should bounce back fairly convincingly at home. Josh Dobbs or Dorian Thompson-Robinson may get some minutes under center as well.
Final score: Cleveland 35, Arizona 10
Nov. 12 at Baltimore Ravens
The Browns and Ravens will be settled in at this point in the season. They’ll also have plenty of footage of each other and their experience against one another a few weeks prior. Fortunately for Cleveland, they can take what they learned from the last matchup and squeak out a win. Like last game, and every game before against the Ravens, this one will be close for the Browns. Also, thank you for being on the road for my wedding weekend.
Final score: Cleveland 23, Baltimore 17
Nov. 19 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers will be tough as nails on defense and Pittsburgh superstar T.J. Watt will try to wreak havoc on Cleveland’s offense. But, the matchup between Myles Garrett and Broderick Jones will continue to be the difference maker as the Browns make life hell for Kenny Pickett all night long. It will be closer than some people would enjoy, but the Browns can lock up their third win in a row.
Final Score: Cleveland 21, Pittsburgh 14
Nov. 26 at Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos will be much better with Sean Payton running the show, finally giving the team stability at the head coaching position. The same can be said for Russell Wilson, who will be maximized by Payton’s offensive scheming and ability to lean heavily on a strong rushing attack. Sure, Cleveland is more well-rounded than Denver overall. Nevertheless, playing on the road at Mile High is an experience and turns this game into a tossup.
Final Score: Denver 30, Cleveland 21
Dec. 3 at Los Angeles Rams
That Super Bowl victory two years ago feels so far away compared to what this season has in store for the Los Angeles Rams. Cleveland’s passing game should be able to pick apart a hapless Los Angeles secondary and keep the Rams away from wire-to-wire. Sure, Aaron Donald is a massive threat whenever he’s on the field for Los Angeles. But Donald isn’t enough to win this game by himself. Cleveland wins on the road and defeats the original Cleveland NFL team.
Final score: Cleveland 28, Los Angeles 14
Dec. 10 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars won the AFC South last season and, on paper, have the talent to put the division in a stranglehold for the foreseeable future. It all starts with Trevor Lawrence, who is expected to emerge as one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks this season. The Jaguars have Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, Travis Etienne and Evan Engram to support Lawrence, which could turn this into an offensive shootout.
Ultimately, this game will be won on the defensive side of the ball. Jacksonville has a talented duo in Travon Walker and Josh Allen but it doesn’t hold a candle to what Cleveland has. It will be a high-octane game, but the Browns will start to show flashes on offense heading toward the end of the season.
Final score: Cleveland 36, Jacksonville 34
Dec. 17 vs. Chicago Bears
Considering how their rebuild has gone, the Chicago Bears are fascinating. Chicago’s good but they’re not great either. They’re perfectly marginal and inoffensive. They’ve heavily invested in Justin Fields, who the Bears believe is their franchise quarterback. But, the last time he faced Cleveland, Fields only completed six of 20 passes and was sacked nine times. Fields should be better this time, but he can’t give the Bears enough in a close victory for the Browns.
Final Score: Cleveland 24, Chicago 20
Dec. 24 at Houston Texans
There will be plenty of drama off the field as Deshaun Watson returns to face the Houston Texans for the second year in a row. C.J. Stroud, Watson’s replacement, has the makings of a franchise quarterback for Houston. The Texans also have heavily invested on giving Stroud the tools to succeed in the NFL and should be able to keep pace with Cleveland’s potent offensive attack. Unfortunately, the Texans are still a ways away on defense, despite new head coach DeMeco Ryans putting them in a better position to succeed. Make that four wins in a row for the Browns.
Final Score: Cleveland 27, Houston 14
Dec. 28 vs. New York Jets (Thursday Night Football)
The New York Jets punked the Browns last season and that was with 37-year-old Joe Flacco under center. Now, New York has Aaron Rodgers calling the shots on offense and considering how overwhelmingly talented the Jets are, they could smother Cleveland’s defense. Meanwhile, Robert Saleh will lock in an equally talented New York defense to ensure every snap is difficult for Deshaun Watson. While the winning streak was fun, it ends at home right after Christmas.
Final score: New York 35, Cleveland 20
Jan. 7 at Cincinnati Bengals
The Browns will have a ten-day layoff before they head to Cincinnati for their regular season finale. It could be enough to carry them in this game, especially with the Bengals on the road to face the Kansas City Chiefs the week prior. A lot of this matchup will be decided in the trenches and if Cleveland can get to Joe Burrow, they should be able to swing momentum in their favor. The extra time off makes the difference and the Browns split their seasonal series with the Bengals.
Final Score: Cleveland 24, Cincinnati 14
Final Record: 11-6, Wild Card
Evan Dammarell is a sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can also email him at [email protected] He can also be found three to five times weekly on Locked On Cavs, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network.
Did you enjoy this story from Right Down Euclid? Then it would be best if you become a paid supporter. Every dollar goes right back into making fully independent Cleveland sports coverage possible. Also, be sure to check out our new merchandise!