That’s how the rest of the NFL world thinks the 2017 Cleveland Browns season will go.
Thursday was the day for ESPN’s annual ritual of picking the results for each team’s game. Every NFL Nation reporter who covers his or her team does the picks.
In picking the Browns games, I gave them five wins. I see them as improved, but that this will be another difficult growth season. In essence, this is the season that most expected last season. Instead, the bottom fell out and the Browns didn’t get their first win until the second-to-last game of the season.
There are serious concerns on this team -- at receiver, tight end and the secondary. But there is enough new talent to get past the catastrophic 2016 season.
This season, I think the Browns will show some growth.
However, they haven’t proven that to the rest of the world. The reporters from NFL Nation who picked their games when playing the Browns in every case picked their team to win. They won’t beat the Jets, Jacksonville or Chicago. They won’t win a division game. They will complete the 0-16 season they flirted with a year ago.
Let’s take a look at the games I picked the Browns to win.
New York Jets: If there’s one team that has dismantled its roster to rebuild worse than the Browns, it’s the Jets. Cleveland should win, but Jets reporter Rich Cimini says “the Jets will have enough on defense to topple rookie DeShone Kizer, if he's still starting for the Browns.”
Jacksonville: Jags reporter Mike DiRocco states merely that the Jags “should win.”
Los Angeles Chargers: Maybe the image of the Chargers losing to the Browns on Christmas Eve lingers with me, because that did not look like a good team. Chargers reporter Eric Williams, though, points out that “the last time the Chargers lost at home against the Browns was 1991.” My retort: Will a converted soccer stadium in a new city be a home-field advantage?
Chicago: I see the Browns squeaking this one out on the road on Christmas Eve. Jeff Dickerson says the Bears are “good enough to beat Cleveland.”
This “lack of national respect” thing is an annual story for the Browns, and will be until they do something about it. Last season I picked the Browns to go 1-15, which they did. NFL Nation agreed, saying 1-15, with the only win over San Diego. I had them beating the Giants, which they didn’t. So the other NFL Nation reporters nailed it a year ago.
The Browns can only hope they don’t nail it again in 2017.