What will be the Browns record in 2022?
By: Ivan Mulinder
Over the last week, the NFL’s 3-day hearing regarding Deshaun Watson has concluded, and now all we can do is wait for Judge Sue Robinson’s verdict. It is known that the NFL was arguing for an indefinite suspension with a view that Watson’s camp would have to accept a longer punishment. It’s also known that Watson’s camp was having none of that, arguing that no punishment would be fair, given that there was no violence, no threats, no coercion, and no force used in the acts committed. Indeed NFL owners Dan Snyder and Robert Kraft received no harsh discipline for solicitation. Although, similar crimes by Ben Roethlisberger and Ezekiel Elliot both led to 6 game bans, with Elliot charged with domestic violence. Given this precedent, it seems almost inevitable that the Browns will be without Watson for 6-8 games, but will have him at QB for at least half the season.
What does this mean for the Cleveland Browns outlook for the 2022 season? I honestly believe Jacoby Brissett can shine if Watson only receives a 6 game ban. With that said, I’m going to predict the Browns 2022 record.
- Game 1 Browns @ Panthers. I don’t see the Panthers putting up too many points on the Browns defense given their poor QB room. Their WR room has potential with DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, Terrace Marshall, Rashard Higgins, and Christian McCaffrey, but not with Darnold at QB. The Panthers also lost Haason Reddick and haven’t replaced him at edge so Browns win 24-15.
- Game 2 Jets @ Browns. The Jets Defense is much improved, but they don’t do well against the run so I’m expecting Chubb and Hunt to pick up some big yardage. Zach Wilson will improve and the Jets will pick up more than four wins, but not against the Browns. Browns win 28-17.
- Game 3 Steelers @ Browns. The Steelers offensive line is one of the worst in the League and they protect Mitch Trubisky who is nowhere near as good as even an aged Ben Roethlisberger. The Browns will run through the Steelers and Garrett and Clowney will have lots of pressures. Watt and Heyward will be their usual threat, but the Browns win 26-13.
- Game 4 Browns @ Falcons. The Falcons have a really strong CB duo in AJ Terrell and Casey Heyward Jr, but a poor defensive line. This is another good game for Chubb and Hunt and the Falcons have lost Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Russell Gage over the last few seasons with their main receiving threats now Kyle Pitts and Drake London. Browns win 31-13.
- Game 5 Chargers @ Browns. The Browns and Brissett face their first big challenge when the Bolts come to town bringing with them Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa. Justin Herbert can make any play and sits behind a quality offensive line with Rashawn Slater, Matt Feiler, and Corey Linsley. The Chargers have even brought in Sebastien Joseph Day to stop the run. The Browns Defense really needs to step up for this game, but I don’t see that Brissett is up to the task: Browns lose 30-17.
- Game 6 Patriots @ Browns. This is an interesting match-up with the Patriots having a strong safety group, but a weak cornerback room with Jalen Mills and Terrance Mitchell. The Browns Offense is just too strong for the Patriots, the Browns win 27-17.
It’s now possible that Deshaun Watson returns with the Browns on a 5-1 record and in time for the toughest part of their schedule.
- Game 7 Browns @ Ravens. The Ravens are a really tough team to predict for me. They have an excellent Secondary, but a really weak receiving corp. They’re clearly relying on a strong run game so I’m expecting this to be a very close game. Watson hasn’t played competitive football in a long time so the Browns lose 24-22.
- Game 8 Bengals @ Browns. The Browns have never been beaten by Joe Burrow and there is a good reason for this- the Browns cornerbacks are lockdown outside CBs enabling their Secondary to close down spaces and attack Burrow. With Watson at the helm and in Cleveland, the Browns continue their winning run against Cincinnati. Browns win 28-21.
- BYE Week. This is a good time for the Browns to take a rest and see what’s working for Deshaun.
- Game 9 Browns @ Dolphins. The Dolphins are a big speedy threat with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, Mike Gesicki and Raheem Mostert. The question mark is Tua Tagovailoa. This is a high scoring game and the Browns win 34-31.
- Game 10 Browns @ Bills. The Bills have the strongest roster in the NFL with no glaring weaknesses so going to Buffalo is the biggest challenge the Browns face. The Browns lose 27-17.
- Game 11 Buccaneers @ Browns. Tom Brady sits behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and they have an excellent roster with few weaknesses. They must start favourites so the Browns lose 28-25.
- Game 12 Browns @ Texans. The Texans are not remotely competitive. Browns win 34-10.
- Game 13 Browns @ Bengals. At some point, the Burrow-Chase combination is going to get the better of the Browns. This is a high-scoring shootout win for the Bengals, Browns lose 35-30.
- Game 14 Ravens @ Browns. I’m going to split the Browns and Ravens record as I think Watson is a much better QB than Lamar Jackson and this has to count despite the Ravens Secondary. Browns win 20-10.
- Game 15 Saints @ Browns. This is a tough game for the Browns as the Saints were the second-best team at stopping the run last season. They have added Olave and Landry and are hoping Michael Thomas gets back to his 2019 form. This is going to be a close game and a narrow win with a last-second FG by Cade York. Browns win 24-22.
- Game 16 Browns @ Commanders. Washington has a tough pass rush with Jonathan Allen, Chase Young, and Montez Sweat, but a really poor Linebacker room, and this will be their downfall. Browns win 23-13.
- Game 17 Browns @ Steelers. The Browns are currently sitting at 11-5 and hoping for their first Division Title since 1989. There’s no way the Steelers are letting them do that in Pittsburgh, so pull out everything they have to win the game. Browns lose 20-17.
The Browns finish the regular season with an 11-6 record which should be good enough to make the postseason but may not be good enough for the AFC North division title. It’s going to be a very tough division to win and the Browns, Ravens, and Bengals will be in a scrap throughout the season. This record is dependent upon Watson playing from Game 6 and if they do make the postseason the Browns have a chance of making it to the AFC Championship game.