Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season.
Cleveland hasn't made the playoffs since 2002. But with a new head coach and emerging young nucleus of talent, Browns fans are hoping that trend will end soon. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.
Cleveland Browns 2013 Schedule:
Week 1: Miami
Week 2: at Baltimore
Week 3: at Minnesota
Week 4: Cincinnati
Week 5: Buffalo (Thurs.)
Week 6: Detroit
Week 7: at Green Bay
Week 8: at Kansas City
Week 9: Baltimore
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: at Cincinnati
Week 12: Pittsburgh
Week 13: Jacksonville
Week 14: at New England
Week 15: Chicago
Week 16: at New York Jets
Week 17: at Pittsburgh
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Out of the Gate: The season opener will be huge for the new coaching regime as Miami comes to town in a very winnable game. Getting the Rob Chudzinski era under way with a win is important considering both Baltimore and Cincinnati, as well as NFC 2012 playoff team Minnesota, lurk in the first month. A 2-2 start to the season would be a big success heading into a short week and primetime showdown with Buffalo in Week 5.
Toughest Stretch: The four weeks following the off weekend might be the toughest stretch despite the contest with the lowly Jaguars in Week 13. Road trips to Cincy and New England and a home game with rival Pittsburgh over a four-week span has to be the toughest stretch of action for the Browns. Especially with a home test against the Bears after a trip to Foxborough, Mass.
|Swing Games:||at KC (Week 8), JAC (Week 13)|
|Crossover Divisions:||AFC East, NFC North|
|Bye Week:||Week 10|
|Opp. 2012 W/L %:||.492 (21st)|
|Athlon's SOS Rank:||24th|
Easiest Stretch: There is no easy stretch for the Browns but there may be a chance for some wins in the heart of the schedule from Week 5 to Week 8. Buffalo and Detroit at home are very winnable games and a trip to Kansas City could also provide a chance for success. Yes, a road trip to Lambeau Field lurks in Week 7, but this stretch might be the best shot at wins for Cleveland.
Circle The Calendar: There isn't a major storyline game on this schedule as neither of Chudzinski's former teams — San Diego or Carolina — is on the slate. College teammates Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon (Jacksonville WR) will be reunited in Week 13, while Trent Richardson will square off with Eddie Lacy (Green Bay RB) in Week 7. The most important game, however, will likely be Week 1 against Miami. A winnable game in Chudzinski's debut at home could set the tone for the entire season — and entire coaching tenure.
Divisional Notes: The worst part of the Browns' AFC North schedule is that they don't get to the play the Browns twice. It means that Cleveland might have the worst divisional schedule in the NFL this fall. The good news is that the six games are spread out over the course of the season. A bye week between hosting the Ravens and visiting Paul Brown Stadium also is helpful. Ending the year with a road trip to potential division champ Pittsburgh will be a rough way to end a new coach's first season.
Playoff Push: There are two extremely winnable games in the final month as games with Jacksonville and the Jets provide opportunity for success. However, road trips to New England and Pittsburgh in December will be nasty. A swing home game with Chicago could give the Browns a 3-2 mark in the final month and some potential momentum heading into the offseason — if the team isn't in playoff contention.
Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Those counting on Trent Richardson to win them a fantasy championship didn’t get a lot of help from the schedule-makers. The Patriots and Bears were ranked among the top 10 fantasy defenses against RBs last season. The Jets were a little more generous (No. 21) in this category, but there’s no guarantee that the Browns’ passing attack will be able to divert the defensive attention away from T-Rich.
2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:
|AFC East||AFC North||AFC South||AFC West|
|Buffalo||Baltimore||Houston (6/19)||Denver (6/18)|
|Miami (6/25)||Cincinnati||Indianapolis (6/20)||Kansas City (6/24)|
|New England (6/26)||Cleveland||Jacksonville (6/21)||Oakland (6/28)|
|NY Jets (6/27)||Pittsburgh (7/1)||Tennessee (7/3)||San Diego (7/2)|
|NFC East||NFC North||NFC South||NFC West|
|NY Giants (6/25)||Detroit (6/19)||Carolina||St. Louis (6/27)|
|Philadelphia (6/26)||Green Bay (6/20)||New Orleans (6/24)||San Francisco (6/28)|
|Washington (7/3)||Minnesota (6/21)||Tampa Bay (7/2)||Seattle (7/1)|
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