2011 Cleveland Browns Team Preview and Prediction
The Cleveland Browns haven’t had much success since getting a rebirth as a franchise 12 years ago. In that time Cleveland has posted two winning records and made the playoffs once. And while they seem to be putting something together, the Brownies are now on their third head coach in the last three seasons, which means another rebuilding season is on the way.
Most sportsbooks pegged the Browns last year with a wins over/under of 5.5. Cleveland then started out 0-3, losing by three points at Tampa, by two to Kansas City and by a touchdown at Baltimore. They then beat Cincinnati, lost two more, then upset the defending Super Bowl champion Saints in New Orleans and knocked off New England before losing late in overtime to the Jets and at Jacksonville. Cleveland then won a couple more games to get to 5-7 and one win from going over their total, but they lost their last four to finish at 5-11.
Despite some good efforts the Browns went just 5-11 ATS last year, and 0-2 ATS as favorites. They also went 9-7 on the over/unders, even though Cleveland games averaged just 38 points, mainly because 10 of their games were lined in the 30s.
Statistically speaking the Browns ranked just 29th in offense last year at 290 YPG, 20th in rushing at 103 YPG and 26th in time-of-possession at 28:00.
Defensively Cleveland ranked 22nd overall, allowing 350 YPG, and 27th vs. the run at 129 YPG.
So the Browns ranked 28th in total yardage at -60 YPG.
This off-season the Browns parted ways with a number of veterans, and replaced them mainly from within. They also went defense with their first two picks in the draft, nabbing DE Phil Taylor at No. 21 overall and DE Jabaal Sheard at No. 37.
Colt McCoy completed 61% of his passes last year with six TDs and nine INTs, and appears capable of making strides this season.
Not only is Cleveland working under another new head coach, Pat Shurmur, but also new coordinators on both sides of the ball. So the Browns will probably go through a learning period early on this season. Shurmur will implement a West Coast-style attack on offense, while Dick Jauron is the new DC.
This year’s schedule calls for six games vs. teams that made the playoffs last year, plus road games at Oakland, San Francisco and Houston. And the Brownies better get some wins early because they play the Ravens and Steelers four times over the last five weeks. Overall Cleveland’s schedule ranks tied for 19th toughest in the league.
Bodog.EU is listing the Browns at +1,000 to win the AFC North this season, 40/1 to win the AFC and 80/1 to win the Super Bowl, with a wins O/U of 6.5. The Brownies are accumulating some talent, but with another new coaching regime and new systems, combined with the short camp and a tough late schedule, it looks like another long season for Cleveland. So we’ll go with the under 6.5 on the Browns’ win total.