Cleveland Browns schedule analysis

Breakdown: The Cleveland Browns have the toughest strength of schedule in the AFC North. But it's only 19th overall in the NFL, which gives the Browns a chance to improve on last year's 5-11 record.

Cleveland rookie head coach Pat Shurmur has a golden opportunity to get off to a fast start with a home game in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Both teams are rebuilding and this may be Cincinnati's first game without franchise quarterback Carson Palmer, who has threatened to retire. At least one Ohio team will start off 1-0, while the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens also battle it out in Week 1.

The Browns' only prime-time game this year will be against the Steelers on Thursday Dec. 8 in Pittsburgh.

Complaint department: Although I don't expect the Browns to contend this year, three consecutive road games in December could end any playoff push. The Browns will play at Pittsburgh, at the Arizona Cardinals and at Baltimore in Weeks 14-16. That could be a three-game losing streak toward the end of the season. The Browns also will host the reigning AFC champion Steelers in the regular-season finale on Jan. 1.

Interesting ties: There are interesting storylines involving two NFC West teams. Browns president Mike Holmgren's current team will face his former team -- the Seattle Seahawks -- on Oct. 23. Cleveland also will host the St. Louis Rams on Nov. 13. Shurmur was St. Louis' offensive coordinator last season.

Browns Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 11, Cincinnati, 1:00 PM

Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 18, at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM

Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 25, Miami, 1:00 PM

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 2, Tennessee, 1:00 PM

Week 5: BYE

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 16, at Oakland, 4:05 PM

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 23, Seattle, 1:00 PM

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 30, at San Francisco, 4:15 PM

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 6, at Houston, 1:00 PM

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 13, St. Louis, 1:00 PM

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 20, Jacksonville, 1:00 PM

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 27, at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4, Baltimore, 1:00 PM

Week 14: Thursday, Dec. 8, at Pittsburgh, 8:20 PM

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18, at Arizona, 4:15 PM

Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 24, at Baltimore, 1:00 PM

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1, Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM