Cleveland Browns 2012: Predicting the Results of Each Game
Predicting the 2012 regular season record for the Cleveland Browns is a little like predicting when the world is going to end. Everyone has an opinion, and no one really likes what you are saying.
With games against the AFC West and NFC East, the Cleveland Browns face the third toughest schedule in the NFL.
Cleveland finished the 2011 season with a record of 4-12. That 4-12 mark was against the third easiest schedule in the NFL.
Heading into the 2012 season, Browns officials and fans have a sense of cautious confidence.
Coming off a draft that landed the Browns their best running back since the days of Jim Brown in Trent Richardson, an apparent starting quarterback in Brandon Weeden, a speedy wide receiver in Travis Benjamin and a starting right tackle in Mitchell Schwartz, Cleveland still faces many question marks and a tough road in 2012.
In 2012, Cleveland will play the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants and a Peyton Manning led Denver Broncos team on the road. They will also face perennial playoff teams such as the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs while at home. This is all while the games against the AFC North continue to not get any easier. The playoff caliber Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens will prove to once again be intimidating foes for the Cleveland franchise.
Week 1 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
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Cleveland head coach Pat Shurmur and defensive coordinator Dick Jauron should both prepare well for this matchup, as the Eagles organization has been a familiar foe for both of these coaches.
The dangerous Eagles should prove to be too much for the Cleveland Browns.
On defense, the Eagles will blitz early and blitz often. Jason Babin and the Eagles defense will test Brandon Weeden, and welcome the rookie to the NFL.
With Scott Fujita and Phil Taylor out for the Browns, the Eagles multi-talented offense should take over the contest early. Michael Vick and his wide receiver duo of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin should stay subdued for the Eagles.
The Eagles will run LeSean McCoy, testing Browns rookies John Hughes and James Michael-Johnson.
When it all said and done, the Eagles should prove to be too talented for the young Browns.
Final Score: Eagles 21, Browns 10
Week 2 at Cincinnati Bengals
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Week 2 presents the Browns with two early season challenges. The Cleveland Browns and their rookies will have to deal with their first road game of the season, and their first matchup against a division opponent.
The Cincinnati Bengals will prove to be a strong competitor once again in 2012. Quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green should continue to improve with age, and the law firm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis along with the rest of the Bengals running backs should compliment what offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is doing on offense.
I see Gruden and the Bengals offense continuing to thrash the young core of the Browns defense.
The Browns will keep it close, but the Bengals’ offensive talent will prove to be too much.
Final Score: Bengals 17, Browns 13
Week 3 vs. Buffalo Bills
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Much like the Browns, no one really knows what to think of the Buffalo Bills in 2012.
The Bills won five of their first seven games in 2011 before watching quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and their season fall apart.
The addition of Mario Williams in the offseason has much of the fan base rejuvenated and expecting big things in 2012.
I predict things start to come together for the Browns in this contest. John Hughes and James Michael-Johnson will show life on the defensive side of the ball for the first time.
On offense, the potential of Trent Richardson will break through. The rookie will put together his first 100 yard game of his career. Complimenting Richardson will be Brandon Weeden’s fine performance. Weeden will finish the game throwing for 250 yards and two touchdowns.
Final Score: Browns 28, Bills 17
Week 4 at Baltimore Ravens
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The Browns will hope to turn around their divisional woes against the Baltimore Ravens in their only primetime game of the season.
The rookie offensive dynamic duo of Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson will get their first look at linebacker Ray Lewis and the Ravens defense. Even with the likelihood that Terrell Suggs will be out of this game with his torn Achilles tendon, Haloti Ngata and Ray Lewis will prove that the Baltimore defense is still elite. The Ravens should shut down the Browns offense for the majority of the football game.
Ray Rice will lead the charge for the Baltimore offense. The 1,364 rushing yards from last season will prove to be no fluke for Rice. Ray Rice will torch through the Browns defensive line, and finish the game with over 200 yards from scrimmage.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and his duo of wide receivers, Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, will combine for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
The Browns will lose big for the first time all season, and the fans will start calling for Shurmur’s head after a 1-3 start to the seasons.
Final Score: Ravens 35, Browns 13
Week 5 at New York Giants
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With the Giants trying to regain their form after the Super Bowl hangover and the departures of Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs, it should be no problem for the Cleveland Browns right?
Not so fast.
Manning will prove to still have his rhythm with his top receivers. The combination of Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle should prove to be too much for the Browns secondary.
Complimenting Manning’s 300-plus yard passing performance is the backfield of David Wilson and Ahmad Bradshaw. The two running backs will combine for over 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
The Browns offense will also look abysmal against the pass-rush of the Giants defensive line. Jason Pierre-Paul should own Brandon Weeden, and sack the rookie on three different occasions.
Browns will lose big for the second straight week, and the hot seat under Pat Shurmur continues to get even hotter.
Final Score: Giants 42, Browns 10
Week 6 vs. Cincinnati Bengals
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After a tough Week 2 victory, the Cincinnati Bengals will go to Cleveland confident and expecting a win.
With the Pittsburgh Steelers on the horizon in Week 7, the Bengals might overlook the Browns within this matchup.
Making three costly mistakes, Andy Dalton will have one of his worst games of the season, and Browns cornerback Joe Haden will even return one of Dalton’s interceptions for a touchdown.
Brandon Weeden will bounce back from his bad game against the Giants and throw his first 300-yard passing game of his NFL career.
Trent Richardson will chime in for another 100 yards rushing and a rushing touchdown.
Looking overmatched once again, the Cleveland Browns will pull out an improbable victory against the Cincinnati Bengals. It will be the first victory for the 2012 Cleveland Browns in the AFC North.
Final Score: Browns 35, Bengals 27
Week 7 at Indianapolis Colts
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Week 7 should certainly be an interesting matchup with two rookie quarterbacks going head-to-head.
Wanting to prove his worth, Brandon Weeden will have his second impressive game for the Cleveland Browns.
With neither quarterback wanting to be outdone, Brandon Weeden and Andrew Luck put up similar statistics within this contest. Both quarterbacks should throw for 250 yards and two passing touchdowns.
The difference in this game is Trent Richardson. Richardson will explode against the rebuilding Colts defense. Richardson will run for over 150 yards and two touchdowns in this game.
The Browns will look to be gelling together for the first time all season as they put together a small two game winning streak.
Final Score: Browns 35, Colts 21
Week 8 vs. San Diego Chargers
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Week 8 proves to be disappointing for the Cleveland faithful. With a disappointing 2-4 San Diego Chargers coming to Cleveland, the Browns faithful will be able to taste a three game winning streak.
Philip Rivers and company will have a thing or two to say about that. After their bye week, Rivers will look to regain his form of old against the Cleveland Browns.
Throwing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, Rivers will make the Browns secondary look absolutely silly.
Chargers tight end Antonio Gates should make his presence felt also. Gates will help Rivers achieve those statistics with 10 catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
The blame for this game will really lie on the shoulders of the Browns defense.
Brandon Weeden and the Cleveland offense should have a nice game. The offense, as a whole, will put up over 330 yards and three touchdowns.
Browns kicker Phil Dawson will also make the game exciting for the fans in attendance by making two field goals of 50-plus yards during the game.
Final Score: Chargers 41, Browns 30
Week 9 vs. Baltimore Ravens
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The Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens show the same story just a different day for this Week 9 matchup.
The Ravens will dominate the game in a similar fashion to what they did during Week 4.
Baltimore should use a heavy and successful dose of Ray Rice, while Joe Flacco and the passing game compliment him and the game plan through the air.
Brandon Weeden will have one of his worst games of the season, throwing for three interceptions.
Trent Richardson will even has a bad game, rushing for under 60 yards as he is pulled from the game due to injury before the end of the first half and not returning.
Final Score: Ravens 28, Browns 10
Week 11 at Dallas Cowboys
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Another of the more disappointing teams in the NFL, the 4-5 Dallas Cowboys will take the field reeling from a road loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
With quarterback Tony Romo hurt for this contest, the Dallas offense will feature aa steady diet of running backs Demarco Murray and Felix Jones.
Dick Jauron and the Cleveland defense should be up for the challenge. The Browns defense will hold Murray and Jones to under 100 rushing yards.
With the defense stifling the Cowboys offense, Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson and Travis Benjamin will all have big games for the Browns.
Weeden will use his time in Dallas to compile a 240 yard passing game with three touchdowns.
Trent Richardson will carry the ball 20 times for 125 yards and a touchdown. Richardson finishes the game averaging over six yards-per-carry.
Travis Benjamin will show for the first time all season why the Browns drafted him. The speedy wide receiver will touch the ball 10 times for over 100 yards from scrimmage.
The Browns will dominate the Cowboys in every facet of the game.
Final Score: Browns 28, Cowboys 3
Week 12 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
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The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns square off for the first time all season in Week 12.
The matchup will be everything that was promised heading into this contest.
It will be a hard-fought battle, with both defenses leading the charge.
The Browns will dominate with Trent Richardson and the running game, but Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers passing attack will counter back through the air.
Richardson will lead the game in rushing with 110 yards and a touchdown.
Roethlisberger will prove that his offensive line is still good enough, and will pass for 300 yards and two touchdowns.
The game will be close, but the Steelers should pull another victory away from the Cleveland Browns with Roethlisberger throwing the game winning touchdown pass in the final minutes of the contest.
Final Score: Steelers 17, Browns 13
Week 13 at Oakland Raiders
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The Browns will see a familiar face in Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer when they travel to Oakland.
Much like the Browns, the Raiders will have had a very up-and-down season to this point. Carson Palmer has shown signs of brilliance throughout the season, but nothing to the level of play that he exhibited when he was in Cincinnati.
The Browns secondary will force Palmer into two early interceptions and a fumble.
The Browns offense will handle everything else from there. The Browns will score 17 points off of Palmer's three turnovers and never look back.
With the early lead, the Browns will show a heavy dose of running for the rest of the game. Trent Richardson, Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson will combine for over 200 yards rushing.
The Browns win and have the game in hand for most of the second half.
Final Score: Browns 27, Raiders 13
Week 14 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
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In this highly anticipated Week 14 matchup, the Browns will get a chance to see former running back Peyton Hillis and former head coach Romeo Crennel.
The matchup will not disappoint. Both defenses should prove to be stout, forcing turnovers for both teams.
Neither offense will really look to be playing at their greatest level for this competition.
Joe Haden will register an interception and a forced fumble for the Browns during this matchup.
Browns safety T.J. Ward will also contribute with an interception, sack, and a fumble recovery.
Jabaal Sheard will record two sacks for the Browns defensive line. Sheard and the Browns defense will really reap the benefits of having an in-shape Phil Taylor back on the field.
A fourth quarter field goal by Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop proves to be the difference.
Final Score: Chiefs 13, Browns 10
Week 15 vs. Washington Redskins
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The Washington Redskins will pose another highly anticipated matchup for the Cleveland Browns.
After answering questions all week about the play of Redskins quarterbackRobert Griffin III, Brandon Weeden will comes out throwing lasers. The rookie will not be outdone, and will throw two first quarter touchdown passes.
The Browns will lose their early 14-7 lead after RG3 runs for a touchdown right before the end of the first half.
Tied at halftime, the Browns will rededicate themselves to running the football.
Trent Richardson will have a solid second half, touching the ball 15 times for over 60 yards.
In a close affair, Brandon Weeden gets the last laugh. The Oklahoma State rookie will lead a fourth quarter drive to setup a 40-yard game-winning yard field goal.
Final Score: Browns 23, Redskins 20
Week 16 at Denver Broncos
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With Peyton Manning now in the fold in Denver, Broncos head coach John Fox and company will hit the ground running.
Manning and his new Broncos will never miss a beat. Cleveland has historically struggled in Denver, and is 3-11 against the Broncos in Denver all time. Dating back to 1970, the Broncos have dominated this series with a 21-5 record against the Browns.
Looking to defend their AFC West crown, Peyton Manning and the Broncos should immediately attack the Cleveland secondary.
With precision passing and the unheralded knowledge of being a Manning, Peyton will attack the Browns with laser point accuracy.
The Browns will keep it close though, as Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson will both have solid but unspectacular games.
The Browns defense will find ways to pressure Manning, but will be unable to make the big play.
The game stays close until late in the fourth quarter. Peyton Manning will take a page out of his new boss’ playing days and lead the Broncos in a John Elway type drive to wrap up the Broncos' second consecutive AFC West title.
The high altitude will definitely get to the Browns defenders in the fourth quarter, and make Manning look unstoppable.
Final Score: Broncos 31, Browns 27
Week 17 at Pittsburgh Steelers
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In addition to being the biggest rivalry in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns will look to redeem themselves and end their season on a positive note against their archenemy Pittsburgh Steelers.
Weeden took a lot of heat for losing the first matchup against the Steelers, with some in Cleveland yammering for the return of Colt McCoy and arguing that Weeden’s arm strength is no better than the former Browns starter.
Much like the first contest, this game will be decided by field position and defense.
The Steelers defense should dominate the action for the majority of the game. The Steelers will apply great pressure to Brandon Weeden, while also stopping Trent Richardson dead in his tracks.
Nice play calling by Pat Shurmur will really be the story of the second half.
A screen to running back Trent Richardson will catch Pittsburgh in a blitz, and give the Browns a quick second half touchdown.
Shurmur will also use Trent Richardson as a decoy throughout the second half, allowing Weeden to throw out of the play action and take the top off the defense.
Neither team will have the ability to separate themselves throughout this competition. This allows Ben Roethlisberger to have the ball in his hands for the final drive of the game.
Roethlisberger will do what he always seems to do against Cleveland and will the Steelers to a victory. Steelers receiver Mike Wallace will catch the final touchdown in the back of the end zone against Sheldon Brown.
Final Score: Steelers 17, Browns 10
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A 2012 record of 6-10 for the Cleveland Browns may not be what fans are hoping for, but there will be progress made.
While the 2012 schedule is brutal, the Browns will have laid the foundation for a formidable run-heavy, play-action form of the West Coast offense.
This offense may never remind you of the high-flying offenses of Rob Chudzinski, but there is no reason to believe that the Browns cannot be a 10-6 team by 2013.