Cleveland Browns: Way Too Early Game Predictions for the First Half of 2011

Brian MurtaughAnalyst IAugust 9, 2011

Cleveland Browns: Way Too Early Game Predictions for the First Half of 2011

0 of 10

    Well football fans, the 2011-12 NFL season is officially upon us as preseason games and the sounds of training camps all around the country are filling the air.

    For Cleveland Browns fans, a new era of hope and optimism is coming full circle. With all of that optimism comes excitement and wonder about what this Browns team can be for the coming season.

    The following slideshow is a prediction piece looking at the first eight regular season games for the Cleveland Browns in 2011. Predictions are based solely on opinion and are always open for discussion.

    The way-too-early second half of the predictions will be posted after the preseason has concluded.

    Thanks for reading and be sure to comment below!

Week 1: Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns

1 of 10

    Game Prediction:

    It is reasonable to believe that Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals will struggle through their first few contests of the 2011 season. Almost every position on the Bengals roster needs adjusting and the offense will likely take some time to become effective.

    Cleveland will be ushering in the Colt McCoy and Pat Shurmur eras with this opening game and spirits should be running high after such a quiet off season. McCoy had the opportunity to play against the Bengals defense in Week 15 of last season. The Browns signal caller finished the game throwing 19-25 for 243 yards and two touchdowns.


    Final Score Prediction:

    The Browns take the opening game by a convincing margin as the Bengals' season gets off to a stumbling start. Andy Dalton may be the quarterback of the future in Cincinnati, but still has some learning to do in the present.  

    Bengals: 10

    Browns: 24

    Overall Record: 1-0

Week 2: Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts

2 of 10

    Game Prediction:

    Assuming that Peyton Manning will be fully healthy by the second week of the 2011 season, the Browns will have a tough ride trying to tame the Colts in Indy.

    Cleveland has played well against some of the better teams during the past few seasons, but have also struggled to get wins early in the year. Furthermore, the Colts simply have more stability within their franchise and a team that knows their systems very well.

    McCoy will struggle in this game as Peyton Hillis and the rest of the Browns rushing attack gets pushed under the surface. Unfortunately, Cleveland will be forced to play catch-up against Manning which is something they have not been good at.


    Final Score Prediction:

    The Browns are getting better as a team, but are not good enough to compete with an elite team like the Colts...yet.


    Browns: 17

    Colts: 34

    Overall Record: 1-1

Week 3: Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns

3 of 10

    Game Prediction:

    After losing their two biggest rushers from the 2010-11 season, Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown, the Dolphins have hit the ground running with Reggie Bush in the backfield. However, Miami is becoming a one-dimensional team, and that is usually a good thing for the Brown's defense.

    Cleveland is coming off a big loss against the Colts and Miami's quarterback play has been good enough to get them over the hump in the first few weeks.

    The Browns will get Peyton Hillis up and running in this game after being silenced against the Colts in Week 2.


    Final Score Prediction:

    Cleveland struggles in the first half but mounts a late rally to push the game to the final possession. However, the Dolphins prove they are the better team and squeak by, handing Cleveland back-to-back losses.


    Dolphins: 27

    Browns: 24

    Overall Record: 1-2

Week 4: Tennesee Titans at Cleveland Browns

4 of 10

    Game Prediction:

    Cleveland needs to right the ship in Week 4 and turn to Peyton Hillis to get them back on the winning track. Hillis has a breakout game while stealing the show away from the Titans' Chris Johnson.

    McCoy also continues to improve as he finally gets the hang of Shurmur's West Coast offense and gives Cleveland the early lead.

    The Browns defense makes themselves known in this one as they make Matt Hasselbeck uncomfortable in the pocket and force him to make some poor throws into coverage.


    Final Score Prediction:

    Browns have positive vibes as they head into the bye week at 2-2. Joe Haden and Peyton Hillis share player-of-the-game honors and spread some hope heading into the second part of the first half of the season.


    Titans: 10

    Browns: 21

    Overall Record: 2-2

Week 5: Browns Bye Week

5 of 10

    The Browns are sitting at home watching this week's action as the AFC North Rivals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, do battle against the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars.

    The Baltimore Ravens are also enjoying a Sunday off the field.

    This guy isn't very happy, but the Browns will be back next week!

Week 6: Cleveland Browns at Oakland Raiders

6 of 10

    Game Prediction:

    The Browns come off the bye week hungry for some football and ready to play. The Raiders come in struggling as they look to bounce back after a Week 5 trouncing by the Houston Texans.

    Defense is the story for both teams in this game, as both offenses seem deadlocked heading into the final quarter. Fortunately for Cleveland, Hillis wears down opposing defenders and takes control late for the Brownies.


    Final Score Prediction:

    Hillis carries the Browns but takes a beating in the process. Cleveland must improve on the offensive side of the ball to continue to win games, but steals a late victory from Hue Jackson's Raiders.


    Browns: 17

    Raiders: 7

    Overall Record: 3-2

Week 7: Seattle Seahawks at Cleveland Browns

7 of 10

    Game Prediction:

    Tavaris Jackson brings the struggling Seahawks into Cleveland for what should be one of the more evenly-based matchups of Week 7.

    Cleveland's defense has shown flashes of brilliance at points throughout the year but has struggled to contain some of the better passing attacks they have faced. Seattle's passing attack has become quite potent with the additions of Jackson and Sydney Rice.

    The Browns office still seems to be firing on all cylinders but has not been doing a great job of converting in the red zone. Fortunately, Phil Dawson is making the best out of what could be his final season in Cleveland, hitting on a very high percentage of his field goals.


    Final Score Prediction:

    The wheels come off a little for the Browns in this one as Dawson is called upon to attempt four field goals. Cleveland's offense is much better than in previous years, but is still trying to find consistency in Shurmur's West Coast system.


    Seahawks: 24

    Browns: 12

    Overall Record: 3-3

Week 8: Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers

8 of 10

    The last time the Browns and 49ers did battle was in December of 2007. Chris Weinke was the quarterback for San Francisco, while Brady Quinn was doing his best impression of a capable quarterback for Cleveland.

    Since then, both franchises have taken similar paths through mediocrity and will both have the opportunity to put themselves in great position with a victory in Week 8.


    Game Prediction:

    Cleveland comes out strong in this game as they look to put the embarrassment of their loss to Seattle behind them. Colt McCoy is beginning to become very comfortable with his receivers and looks as if he may turn to corner towards becoming one of the better quarterbacks in the league very soon.

    On the other side of the ball, coach Harbaugh is steaming at the poor performance of his defensive front. San Francisco's lackluster approach to free agency has haunted them throughout the season, as their expectations have been slightly diverted by their poor defensive play. However, Frank Gore and a solid rotation of quarterbacks have kept them in the mix in an underachieving AFC West division.


    Final Score Prediction:

    Cleveland hands the 49ers an embarrassing loss and is getting closer to holding a position of power in the AFC North. McCoy is showing the fruits of his labor throughout the summer months and is finally gaining some respect around the rest of the NFL.


    Browns: 27

    49ers: 10

    Overall Record: 4-3

Week 9: Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans

9 of 10

    Game Prediction:

    The Browns roll into Houston looking to finally win back-to-back games for the first time this season. Cleveland handled the San Francisco 49ers last week, but have not been able to find consistency in their offensive schemes.

    Cleveland will once again look toward Hillis to be the backbone of the offense, while Brandon Jackson begins to shine as the backup tailback. Athyba Rubin and Phil Taylor are also beginning to become the defensive tandem that everyone hoped they would be back in April.

    Houston has been a strong team all season long. Arian Foster and Matt Shaub have continued where they left off during the 2010-11 season and are now challenging the Colts for the division lead.

    This game will simply come down to the lucky bounces.


    Final Score Prediction:

    Cleveland struggles to contain Foster but manages to score some points off key turnovers throughout the game. The Browns finally string two wins together and are now in the conversation to challenge for the AFC North.


    Browns: 24

    Texans: 17

    Overall Record: 5-3

What Will the Second Half Have in Store?

10 of 10

    It is obviously possible that the predictions I have made for the first eight games of the 2011 season could completely fall apart after the Week 1 showing against the Cincinnati Bengals. The game results were made purely in fun with a touch of optimistic feelings for the season.

    Cleveland is a team that will go through some growing pains throughout the 2011 campaign, but will hopefully grow into a solid unit after building with young players and quality coaching. 

    Be sure to check out the second half of the way-too-early game predictions that will be posted near the end of the preseason.

    Brian Murtaugh is a Cleveland Browns Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Murtaugh is also the Cleveland Browns Lead Columnist for Rant Sports.