<
>

An early stroll through the Browns' 2017 schedule

Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR.

Hold off: There’s no point in playing the schedule game until after the draft.

I mean, the Browns will be a different team a week from now. What with Myles Garrett rushing the passer and Jimmy Garoppolo spinning the ball to O.J. Howard ... huh? Well, let’s just wait and see on all that.

But a few observations can be made right now about the Browns’ schedule released on Thursday. These won’t change.

Game 1, Sept. 10, home v. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m.

Since 1999, the Browns have opened a season at home against the Steelers two times. The Steelers won, 43-0, in ’99 when coach Bill Cowher incited his players in the locker room prior to kickoff by screaming that the Browns refused to introduce them. (It was a shameless lie.) In 2007, the Steelers won, 34-7, in Mike Tomlin’s first game as coach. Bottom line: Steelers are out of cheap tricks. Playing field leveled.

Game 2, Sept. 17, at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.

Such a lovely time of year on the Inner Harbor. Saturday evening dinner at Amicci’s, then a walk to Vaccaro’s for gelato. Sunday is another day.

Game 3, Sept. 24, at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.

It’s a shame this trip is right after the one to Baltimore. A visit to Iaria’s is always savored and should be reserved for later in the season when there might not be much more to look forward to. Grouper picatta, here we come.

Game 4, Oct. 1, home v. Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.

Once the one division rival the Browns could slap around every now and then, the Bengals of Marvin Lewis have won the last five meetings by an average score of 30-8.

Game 5, Oct. 8, home v. New York Jets, 1 p.m.

The good news is Jets quarterback Josh McCown has never won a game in FirstEnergy Stadium. The bad news is that includes two seasons with the Browns.

Game 6, Oct. 15, at Houston Texans, 1 p.m.

The Brock Osweiler revenge game? We’ll see. There is always the chance Johnny Manziel will be signing autographs at a nearby suburban mall for $99. Selfies are negotiable.

Game 7, Oct. 22, home v. Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.

The Titans are going to be a beast. That is all.

Game 8, Oct. 29, v. Minnesota Vikings in London, 9:30 a.m.

The Browns’ first regular-season game in London and only national appearance on NFL Network. The good news is the Big Ben over there won’t beat them.

Game 9, Nov. 12, at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.

After a bye week scheduled exactly at the mid-point of the season, the Browns can afford to leave a day early to navigate the eternal highway construction in Michigan. Actually, they might be better off traveling by Lake Erie barge.

Game 10, Nov. 19, home v. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.

Jacksonville since 2013: 15-49. The Browns since 2013: 15-49. Head-to-head meetings in that time: Jacksonville won, 32-28, in 2013, and 24-6 in ’14.

Game 11, Nov. 26, at Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.

Kevin Zeitler’s first return to Cincinnati may spark the only time in history a guard is requested by the opposing media for the mid-week conference call – unless Eric Steinbach already holds that distinction. Battle of Ohio trivia at its best.

Game 12, Dec. 3, at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.

A sell-out crowd of 30,000 in StubHub Center – home of the MLS LA Galaxy – pines to avenge the (former) San Diego Chargers’ 20-17 loss on Christmas Eve in Cleveland. Beware the Pierogi Prince of Parma, Jamie Meder, Chargers fans.

Game 13, Dec. 10, home v. Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m.

Perfect time to catch Aaron Rodgers away from balmy Green Bay. Let’s see him deal with frigid temperatures and possible snow flurries. Wait, what?

Game 14, Dec. 17, home v. Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.

Over the years, I’ve maintained a tradition of visiting with Ozzie Newsome before the game and imploring, “Take it easy on these guys, will ya?” Never listens.

Game 15, Dec. 24, at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.

Christmas Eve in Terminal D in O’Hare International Airport. Then this: “The flight is over-booked. Looking for volunteers to take a flight tomorrow night, weather permitting.” Cue the Planes, Trains & Automobiles music.

Game 16, Dec. 31, at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m.

Another Happy New Year.