Eleven out of 16 teams the Browns play had winning records in 2009.
With all of the moves the Browns made this past off season, whether in the front office or in transactions to improve their on-field product, there is no doubt that this team is putting its best foot forward in trying to get back to where they were in 2007, which was in playoff contention. Team president Mike Holmgren, General Manager Tom Heckert and Co. made a number of moves to put the Browns in position to improve. Although the talent level isn't exactly lofty for right now, down the road this team has a serious chance to galvanize its abilities in a more organized fashion.
But for this season, it will be a grind, especially for young rookies such as Joe Haden, T.J. Ward, Marcus Bernard, Brian Robiskie, and others. This young core will need to learn on the job against some fierce competitors from the AFC North Division in the Ravens, Bengals, and, of course, the Steelers.
That's one thing the Browns never have in their favor; their schedule is in the same boat.
Across the board, 11 of the 16 teams the Browns will engage in battle throughout the regular season won at least eight games just a season ago. Those that did not post a winning season include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Kansas City Chiefs, whom the Browns play consecutively in weeks one and two. The Browns have to wait until Week 11 to face their next under .500 football unit in the Jacksonville Jaguars. In Week 14, the Browns travel to Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo to execute what should be an easy win versus the lowly Bills. But it's the NFL; you never know when an upset is going to happen.
The big guns on the Browns calendar include some of the best the National Football League has to offer. Week 7 is where the Browns travel south to play against the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. Other NFL powerhouses can be found on Cleveland's list, including the up-and-coming New York Jets, the old but still more then capable New England Patriots, the Atlanta Falcons, and the much improved from last year Miami Dolphins, with their new toys Brandon Marshall and Karlos Dansby. Week after week after week it will be a test, not just for the Browns rookie draft class, but even for proven veterans such as Jake Delhomme, Shaun Rogers, Eric Wright, David Bowens, and more.
In 2009, the Browns had ten of their games against teams with winning records. The year before, they played only four out of 16 teams with losing records. The last time the Browns posted a successful year, 2007, their scheduled work load was much lighter; only six of the teams they faced recorded a .500 or better record the year before.
My point being, now that the Browns have gotten younger through the draft, especially in the defensive secondary, we probably won't see the Browns draft class develop until further down the road, but it doesn't mean they don't have talent. The Browns' performance against some hard-hitting teams highly depends on how the young core responds to an immense challenge and if they can step on the field and make an immediate impact.
For some reason, the Browns just can't catch a break in terms of who they play during the regular season. But a real football team does not make excuses; they make plays. And so far, there has been no complaints made from this team this year period. Most fans have a bad habit of marking games down on the Browns schedule as an automatic win or loss. Don't fall into this category. Cleveland isn't expected to do anything big in 2010, but they could be full of surprises.