Cleveland Browns 2012 NFL Schedule: Game-by-Game Analysis, Info and Predictions

Mike Hoag@MikeHoagJrCorrespondent IIApril 18, 2012

Cleveland Browns 2012 NFL Schedule: Game-by-Game Analysis, Info and Predictions

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    The official 2012 Cleveland Browns NFL schedule is finally here!

    As is true for the life of a Cleveland sports fan, the odds are already stacked against everyone's favorite team before the season has even begun.

    Unluckily for the Browns, they have drawn the third-hardest schedule in the NFL. Their opponents had a combined record of 135-121 record (.527) in 2011.

    That is good for the hardest schedule among all of the NFL's non-playoff teams from a season ago.

    Even so, the Browns faithful still anticipate the offseason, schedule release and the upcoming NFL draft with hope in their hearts.

    Could this be the year the Browns change the minds of the national sports media and take a step toward the next level?

    The NFL sure doesn't think so.

    The Browns have been rewarded with one prime-time game for the 2012 season (one prime-time appearance is mandated by the NFL).

    Let's take a look at the daunting schedule that lays ahead for the rebuilding Cleveland Browns.

    Browns 2011 Record: 4-12

    Key Additions: Frostee Rucker, DE; Juqua Parker, DE

    Key Losses: Peyton Hillis, RB; Mike Adams, DB; Eric Steinbach, OG; Tony Pashos, OL

    2012 Browns Regular-Season Games (Times in ET):

    Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, Philadelphia, 1:00 p.m. 
    Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, at Cincinnati, 1:00 p.m.
    Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, Buffalo, 1:00 p.m.
    Week 4: Thursday, Sept. 27 at Baltimore, 8:20 p.m.
    Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, at NY Giants, 1:00 p.m. 
    Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, Cincinnati, 1:00 p.m.
    Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, at Indianapolis, 1:00 p.m. 
    Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, San Diego, 1:00 p.m.
    Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, Baltimore, 1:00 p.m. 
    Week 10: BYE WEEK
    Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, at Dallas, 1:00 p.m. 
    Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, Pittsburgh, 1:00 p.m. 
    Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, at Oakland, 4:15 p.m.
    Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, Kansas City, 1:00 p.m. 
    Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, Washington, 1:00 p.m. 
    Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, at Denver, 4:05 p.m. 
    Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, at Pittsburgh, 1:00 p.m.

Week 1: Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns

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    Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium

    When: 1 p.m., Sunday, September 9

    Eagles 2011 Record: 8-8

    Key Additions: DeMeco Ryans, MLB (Trade)

    Key Losses: Vince Young, QB; Juqua Parker, DE; Winston Justice, OT; Jason Peters, OT (Injury)

    Analysis: Opening day in Cleveland pits the Eagle's long-time head coach Andy Reid against his former mentor's (Mike Holmgren) protege Pat Shurmur.

    Both teams have, or have previously been, loaded with talent by Browns general manager Tom Heckert.

    The offensive philosophies are similar in theory, however the superior talent of the Eagles offense allows them to execute a more complex game-plan than the Browns are currently employing on Sundays.

    Luckily for the Browns, their defense is coming off of a year in which they began to see a strong nucleus of young players blossom.  They have added defensive ends Juqua Parker (from the Eagles) and Frostee Rucker, and look to add several prospects to the fold on April 26.

    The Browns defense may pose to be too great of a challenge for an Eagles offense that will be missing starting left tackle Jason Peters for the season.  Last year the Eagles offensive line struggled and the offense never fully soared as was originally predicted.

    I think the energy in Cleveland Browns Stadium will be enough to power the Browns over a close win to begin the 2012 campaign on the right foot.

    That'll be a nice change.

    Predicted Winner: Cleveland Browns

Week 2: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

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    Where: Paul Brown Stadium

    When: 1 p.m., Sunday, September 16

    Bengals 2011 Record: 9-7

    Key Additions: Reggie Nelson, FS; BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB; Terence Newman, CB; Nate Allen, CB

    Key Losses: Frostee Rucker, DE; Cedric Benson, RB; Jonathan Fanene, DL; Nate Livings, OG

    Analysis: This Week 2 matchup is an early but critical game for the Cleveland Browns.  Last season the Bengals swept the Browns and earned an unexpected playoff berth under the leadership of rookie quarterback Andy Dalton.

    In 2012, though, the scouting report is out on Dalton and the Browns will be ready for their divisional foes.

    Luckily for the Browns, Cedric Benson does not appear likely to re-sign with the Bengals.  Over the past two seasons, Benson has been an unstoppable force against the Browns.

    While the Browns have improved their defensive front by signing Frostee Rucker, a key Bengals reserve linemen, the Bengals have looked to be doing the same.  Other than re-signing Adam Jones, the Bengals have also brought in cornerbacks Terence Newman and Nate Allen to bolster their secondary.  The Bengals also have several early round picks after dealing Carson Palmer to the Oakland Raiders last season.

    The key matchup of this game will be the Browns' improving secondary against Andy Dalton in his second season.  Also, perhaps the biggest one on one matchup, will be Browns cornerback Joe Haden against Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green.

    At home, this early in the season, I think the Bengals are too solid for the young Browns to score an upset.

    Predicted Winner: Cincinnati Bengals

Week 3: Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns

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    Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium

    When: 1 p.m., Sunday, September 23

    Bills 2011 Record: 6-10

    Key Additions: Mario Williams, DE/OLB; Mark Anderson, DE

    Key Losses: N/A

    Analysis: Every season there is that one team that is on the verge to breakout.  I believe the Buffalo Bills greatly under-performed in 2011 and will rebound in 2012.

    Buffalo's defense is the biggest question mark in this matchup.  Sure, they added Mario Williams to get after the quarterback.  But what have they done to address the bleeding in the rush defense?  Right now they are as bad off as they were last season in that department and will need to improve through the draft and as a unit.

    The Browns may be able to take advantage of their quick hitting passing game.  They may also be able to neutralize Mario Williams by running underneath his aggressive pass rush in passing situations.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick has been named the quarterback of the future in Buffalo.  Fred Jackson is an above average talent at running back and the wide receiving options are far and above those of the Browns.

    While I do think the Buffalo Bills will have a good season, I don't see them coming into Cleveland and beating up on the Browns defense.  The Bills were a miserable 1-7 on the road in 2011.  

    Some of those road struggles should be attributed to their starting quarterback.  Fitzpatrick was excellent at times but was incredibly inconsistent on the road.

    The Browns will rattle Fitzpatrick and force multiple turnovers while playing ball control for most of the afternoon.

    Who is this Browns team I'm talking about?

    Predicted Winner: Cleveland Browns

Week 4: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

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    Where: M&T Bank Stadium

    When: 8:20 p.m., Thursday, September 27

    Ravens 2011 Record: 12-4

    Key Additions: Matt Birk, C

    Key Losses: Ben Grubbs, OG; Lee Evans, WR; Jarret Johnson, OLB; Cory Redding, DE; Tom Zbikowski, SS; Chris Carr, CB

    Analysis: The only prime time matchup for the Browns (every team is mandated to have at least one by the NFL in 2012) is not going to be an easy one.  Over the previous eight meetings, the Ravens have dominated the hapless Browns.  The eight game winning streak is not the only factor Baltimore has going for them.  

    Coming off of an AFC North championship in 2012, they likely have much to prove after falling short of the Super Bowl.

    While they have lost several key veterans, their depth and potential draft picks will likely be able to fill in the gaps in order to sustain the winning streak for the Ravens.

    Of note, when these two rivals met in their final meeting in 2011, the Browns opened up some running lanes for former running back Peyton Hillis.  Hillis and the Browns offense shocked Ravens with 112 yards on the ground.

    Whoever is playing running back for Cleveland is going to need be as assertive as Hillis was in that late season matchup if the Browns are going to end their misfortune against their divisional rivals.

    The addition of Frostee Rucker has signaled hope for the Browns faithful that their defense is looking to address the problems with the rush defense.  Hopefully, that is the case and some other improvements are made before opening day.

    If not, this one could get as ugly as last year when the Ravens racked up 290 yards on the ground.

    This early in the season, I think the Ravens will impose their physicality on the Browns and wear them down with their stout defense.  Cleveland's defense will, as it has in previous matchups, wear down as the game progresses and ultimately fold in the second half

    Predicted Winner: Baltimore Ravens

Week 5: Cleveland Browns at New York Giants

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    Where: MetLife Stadium

    When: 1 p.m., Sunday, October 7

    Giants 2011 Record: 9-7

    Key Additions: Martellus Bennet, TE

    Key Losses: Mario Manningham, WR; Brandon Jacobs, RB; Aaron Ross, CB

    Analysis: The Super Bowl Champion New York Giants will host the Cleveland Browns in Week 5.

    It doesn't look good for the Browns so far, does it?

    However, I don't see this matchup as an impossible task for the Browns.  The Giants defense struggled during the regular season in 2011 and solidified down the stretch of the playoffs.  

    Why did they struggle?  Their pass defense was very suspect and susceptible to the big play.  As the playoffs approached and their defensive front got healthy, the pressure they were sending was too much.  The Browns offense may be simple by design but it is designed to beat quick pressure and aggressive pass rushers.

    The Browns defense is a solid unit that can contend with the Giants offense.  If they can contain Ahmad Bradshaw and force Eli Manning into obvious passing situations, their excellent secondary and adequate pass rusher should be able to gain the upper hand.

    Call me crazy, but the Browns are not underdogs in this one.  Notably, they have thwarted the defending Super Bowl champions in three of the last four seasons.

    This includes an embarrassment of the New York Giants on Monday Night Football in 2008.

    I think that this is a pivotal game for the Browns and that they will win a close game at MetLife Stadium.  A win here could turn the tables on a floundering 2012 campaign.

    Predicted Winner: Cleveland Browns

Week 6: Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns

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    Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium

    When: 1 p.m., Sunday, October 14

    Bengals 2011 Record: 9-7

    Analysis: The Browns have begun to gain some steam as they return to Cleveland Browns stadium as victors over the defending Super Bowl champions.

    Still upset over the Week 2 loss to rival Cincinnati, the Browns will come out much improved and firing on all cylinders.

    Look for a different team to step out onto the field in Week 6.  The youngsters will have had five weeks of battles under their belts and they will be ready to return the favor to the Bengals.

    While this is a pivotal game for the Browns 2012 season, it is, more importantly, the turning point.

    Predicted Winner: Cleveland Browns

Week 7: Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts

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    Where: Lucas Oil Stadium

    When: 1 p.m., Sunday, October 21

    Colts 2011 Record: 2-14

    Key Additions: Cory Redding, DE; Tom Zbikowski, SS; Samson Satele, C

    Key Losses: Peyton Manning, QB; Pierre Garcon, WR; Dan Orlovsky, QB; Anthony Gonzalez, WR; Kelvin Hayden, CB; Jeff Saturday, C; Jacob Tamme, TE; Dallas Clark, TE (Rumored to be retiring)

    Analysis: A win against the Indianapolis Colts will make it the third in a row for the Cleveland Browns.

    They call that a winning streak.

    The gutted Indianapolis Colts will not have enough firepower, even with rookie phenom quarterback Andrew Luck at the helm.  As seen in 2011, the team was listless without Peyton Manning slinging the rock.

    Can Andrew Luck step in and immediately have the same effect as Manning.

    Can he do it against the tough Browns defense and without the presence of many, if not all, of the franchises playmakers that Peyton Manning utilized?

    My guess is that he will not rise to this challenge and the Browns defense will stifle the rebuilding Colts offense.

    Even in a loss, though, the Browns management may get a glimpse of a quarterback they covet.

    Predicted Winner: Cleveland Browns

Week 8: San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns

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    Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium

    When: 1 p.m., Sunday, October 28

    Chargers 2011 Record: 8-8

    Key Additions: Robert Meachem, WR; Jared Gaither, OT; Jarret Johnson, OLB; Le'Ron McClain, FB; Atari Bigby, S; Eddie Royal, WR; Charlie Whitehurst, QB

    Key Losses: Vincent Jackson, WR; Mike Tolbert, RB

    Analysis: The San Diego Chargers are looking super charged as they head into the 2012 season.  Luckily for the Browns, the high-powered Chargers offense will be without standout wide receiver Vincent Jackson and pulverizing running back Mike Tolbert.

    However, the Chargers still have a very potent offense consisting of Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd.  The team also added receiving threats Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal to the fold during the offseason.

    This matchup will be the earliest and biggest test for the Browns defense.

    Can they rise to the challenge and thwart the excellent vertical assault of Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers?

    The true weakness of the Chargers has been their rush defense.  Currently, the Browns hard nosed offensive line will likely pave the way for whoever is at running back to have a big game.

    While the game may turn out to be a lot closer than I think, I believe the Chargers will bring the Browns back down to reality and end their three game winning streak with a convincing victory in this one.

    Predicted Winner: San Diego Chargers

Week 9: Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns

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    Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium

    When: 1 p.m., Sunday, November 4

    Ravens 2011 Record: 12-4

    Analysis: As stated in Week 4, the Ravens won their ninth consecutive game over their rival, and former franchise, the Cleveland Browns.

    The losing ends on this day.

    Due to the large losses suffered by the Ravens during the offseason and the inadequate depth on both sides of the ball, the injuries sustained throughout the season may become too difficult to overcome.

    The shorthanded Ravens are simply not up to the challenge of denying the Browns for a 10th consecutive victory over them.

    Cleveland will break the losing streak and earn a major victory heading into their bye week in Week 10.

    Predicted Winner: Cleveland Browns

Week 10: Bye Week

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    Bye Week

    No game from November 4 to November 18.

Week 11: Cleveland Browns at Dallas Cowboys

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    Where: Cowboys Stadium

    When: 1 p.m., Sunday, November 18

    Cowboys 2011 Record: 8-8

    Key Additions: Brandon Carr, CB; Kyle Orton, QB; Brodney Pool, FS; Lawrence Vickers, FB; Dan Connor, MLB; Nate Givings, OG

    Key Losses: Laurent Robinson, WR; Martellus Bennett, TE; Terance Newman, CB

    Analysis: The Cleveland Browns will get their first taste of the newly constructed monster Cowboys Stadium.

    While they may be in unfamiliar lands against a daunting foe, there will be many familiar faces among the enemy on this Sunday.

    Former Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan holds that position with the Cowboys.  Some former Browns players have also landed in Dallas along with Ryan.

    Abram Elam, Kenyon Coleman, Clifton Geathers, Lawrence Vickers, Brodney Pool and Marcus Spears are all former Browns who have followed Ryan.

    While these matchups may not be eye-popping off the page at you, it will be interesting to see the play of these players (and aggressive coaching by Ryan) with the added motivation of playing against a team that cast them off.

    Ryan's elaborate and aggressive schemes and blitz packages will give the Browns offense fits.  The Cowboys' defense was burnt at times in 2011 because of lacking personnel but they look that have addressed that somewhat so far this offseason.  After a draft to supplement and add depth, Ryan may have the players he needs to impose his tough defense at will.

    The Browns offense is not the only unit up for a challenge in this one.

    The defense will be tested and challenged often by the fierce rushing attack of Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray.  If they can somehow bottle those two explosive players, the threat of Tony Romo and any one of Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Miles Austin will be able to hurt them.

    I think that if there is any game in 2012 that the Browns will likely let get away from them, it will be this one.

    Predicted Winner: Dallas Cowboys

Week 12: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns

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    Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium

    When: 1 p.m., Sunday, November 25

    Steelers 2011 Record: 12-4

    Key Additions: N/A

    Key Losses: Hines Ward, WR; Aaron Smith, DE; Chris Hoke, DT; Arnaz Battle, WR; Chris Kemoeatu, OG; James Farrior, LB; Bryant McFadden, CB

    Analysis: The Cleveland Browns have lost nine out of the last 10 meetings against their oldest rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    In recent memory, I cannot even recall this game seeming like a rivalry game.  I know that I am supposed to dislike the Steelers because of the historical rivalry.  However, in my opinion, the lack of competitiveness by the Browns has tainted that rivalry.

    Luckily for the Browns, and the rivalry, the winds of change are blowing off of Lake Erie.

    Salary cap limitations have begun to stress the powerhouse Steelers.  Through restructuring current contracts and signing virtually no one during free agency, the Steelers have remained afloat.

    At least for now.

    Wide receiver Mike Wallace has voiced his displeasure in his current contract and is planning on holding out until he receives a bigger contract.

    If Wallace persists, he won't be receiving anything in 2012 in the NFL.  The Steelers cannot afford to pay Wallace top dollar, sign rookies and sustain their current roster.

    Without Wallace, the Steelers certainly have other options.  With Big Ben Roethlisburger throwing the rock, it doesn't matter much who he has receiving it.

    However, the added dimension Wallace brings to the field with his blazing speed will significantly hamper the Steelers offense.  The Browns defense played tough against the Steelers in 2011 and would greatly benefit from Wallace not being in the fold come Week 12.

    Whatever the case may be, the Browns offense must spark in order to move the ball against the "Steel Curtain" Steelers defense.  If they can, and I believe they will, the Browns can ride a low scoring total by their offense and a solid defensive performance to shock the Steelers in this one.

    The times, they are a 'changin in the AFC North.

    Predicted Winner: Cleveland Browns

Week 13: Cleveland Browns at Oakland Raiders

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    Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium

    When: 4:15 p.m., Sunday, December 2

    Raiders 2011 Record: 8-8

    Key Additions: Ron Bartell, CB

    Key Losses: Jason Campbell, QB; Michael Bush, RB; Kevin Boss, TE; Chaz Schilens, WR; Kamerion Wimbley, OLB; Samson Satele, C; Stanford Routt, CB

    Analysis: The Oakland Raiders were far over the salary cap heading into the 2012 season.  This offseason, as you can see above, they have been cutting salary in order to get under the cap.

    Cleveland Browns fans shouldn't be too familiar with that subject as they have been dealing with a team thought to be unwilling to spend.

    The Raiders are a perfect example of why sustaining cushion room near the salary cap is a good idea.

    I digress.

    Last season, the Raiders fielded Jason Campbell against the Browns.  Campbell was injured during the game, for the season, which led to the Raiders trading for disgruntled and hold-out Cincinnati Bengals' QB Carson Palmer.

    A couple of special teams blunders by the Browns led to the Raiders victory a season ago.

    However, with Palmer at the helm and the dynamic, and presumably healthy, Darren McFadden in the backfield, the Browns will face a different task in Week 13 of 2012.

    At home, though, and with steady momentum accumulating in the locker room, the Browns will come to play for this game.

    The new-look Browns offense will begin to gel by this point in the season and the Raiders will not be ready for it.

    A Browns victory of 10 or more points is likely in this one.

    Predicted Winner: Cleveland Browns

Week 14: Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns

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    Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium

    When: 1 p.m., Sunday, December 9

    Chiefs 2011 Record: 7-9

    Key Additions: Peyton Hillis, RB; Kevin Boss, TE; Eric Winston, OT; Brady Quinn, QB

    Key Losses: Brandon Carr, CB; Le'Ron McClain, FB; Kyle Orton, QB

    Analysis: Earlier I spoke of teams ready to burst out.  I've been saying this for two years about the Kansas City Cheifs and I truly believe 2012 will be the year they do so.

    The Cleveland Browns will face a tough-as-nails defense that will only benefit from having Eric Berry back in the line-up after missing most of 2011.

    A huge story-line to this game will be the return of fan-favorite Peyton Hillis to the Dawg Pound.

    Hillis sparked a larger than life following while breaking out for over 1,000 yards rushing for the Browns in 2010.  Injuries and off-field drama spoiled a repeat performance for the back in 2011.

    For some reason or another, the Browns reportedly let Hillis walk to sign a 1-year, $3 million contract with the Chiefs.

    Did I mention former Browns head coach Romeo Crennel was named the new head coach of the Chiefs after filling in as the interim coach last season? 

    Kansas City has also brought in another fan favorite: former Browns first round draft pick Brady Quinn.  Quinn was traded to the Denver Broncos in 2010 in exchange for a late round draft pick and Peyton Hillis.

    As for the on-field action, the Chiefs defense and dynamic offense featuring Dwayne Bowe, Jamal Charles, Tony Moeaki and Dexter McCluster will be too much for the improved Browns defense.

    On offense, the Chiefs pose even bigger matchup problems.  Linebacker Derrick Williams, lineman Glenn Dorsey and cornerback Brandon Flowers are all primed to have huge seasons in 2012.

    Look for the Chiefs to win a close one at Cleveland Browns stadium.

    Predicted Winner: Kansas City Chiefs

Week 15: Washington Redkins at Cleveland Browns

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    Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium

    When: 1 p.m., Sunday, December 16

    Redskins 2011 Record: 5-11

    Key Additions: Pierre Garcon, WR; Adam Carriker, DE; Josh Morgan, WR; Cedric Griffin, CB; Brandon Meriweather, S; Madieu Williams, S

    Key Losses: LaRon Landry, S; Donte Stallworth, WR; O.J. Atogwe, S

    Analysis: The Cleveland Browns will get to be on the receiving end of the prospect they tried to move up to draft: Robert Griffin III.

    Mike Holmgren said an unfair advantage for the Redskins existed in acquiring the rights to drafting RGIII.  He cited a strong relationship between the two team's management as the deciding factor in who the trading partner was for the St. Louis Rams.

    Sour grapes aside, the past is the past and the Browns have moved forward nicely in the wake of losing out on RGIII.

    Unfortunately for the Browns, by this time in the season RGIII has had plenty of time to mature and grow with his team.  The Redskins offense is just too much for the Browns in this one and they win handily by more than a touchdown.

    Predicted Winner: Washington Redskins

Week 16: Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos

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    Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High

    When: 4:05 p.m., Sunday, December 23

    Broncos 2011 Record: 8-8

    Key Additions: Peyton Manning, QB; Mike Adams, FS; Brandon Stokley, WR; Jacob Tamme, TE; Joel Dreessen, TE; Tracy Porter, CB

    Key LossesTim Tebow, QB; Daniel Fells, TE; Brady Quinn, QB; Eddie Royal, WR; Brodrick Bunkley, DT

    Analysis: The addition of Peyton Manning to the Denver Broncos cannot be understated.  In 2011, the Broncos made the playoffs under a simplified offense ran by oft criticized QB Tim Tebow.

    The Broncos ran the ball and relied on staunch defense to advance to the divisional round of the playoffs a season ago.

    With the addition of Peyton Manning, the entire spectrum of the Broncos offense now suddenly springs to life. He will be able to fully utilize the weapons available to him and it will not be pretty for opposing defenses in 2012.

    With that said, I do not think the Broncos will walk into Cleveland Browns stadium and push the Browns around.  It will be a lot closer than many immediately want to think, but it will end just the same.

    The Broncos will gain the victory as they ride into Week 17 having already clinched a playoff berth.

    Who doesn't love to see another future Hall of Fame quarterback being greeted by an old Cleveland fan favorite: Jon Elway?

    That was sarcasm.

    Predicted Winner: Denver Broncos

Week 17: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Where: Heinz Field

    When: 1 p.m., Sunday, December 30

    Steelers 2011 Record: 12-4

    Analysis: Like every year, the season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers will likely only hold playoff ramifications for the Steelers.

    However, the Steelers have not been known to lay down in the final week of the season.  This is true even when they have already clinched a playoff berth.

    Considering the history between these two teams, I expect this to be a grueling battle in the freezing cold to finish off the end of another season of Browns football.

    The Steelers will win this game, get their revenge from the Week 12 loss and carry the momentum from the win into the post-season.

    Same story, different season.

    Predicted Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers

Season Recap

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    Predicted end-of-season record: 8-8

    Have no delusions of grandeur heading into the 2012 NFL season.  The Cleveland Browns are what they are; a young team that will struggle through parts of a very difficult schedule.

    When all is said and done, this season will serve as hope for a fan base that has had little to hope for in recent years.

    After building some momentum and showing signs of improvement, the Browns lost four consecutive games to close out an otherwise accomplishing season.

    The losses in December will again begin to raise doubts about Colt McCoy's arm strength and ability to lead an offense in the harsh winter climate of the AFC North.

    This prediction is fluid depending on the success of the Browns rookies, who are yet to be drafted.  I made these predictions with anticipation that the wide receiver, running back, right tackle and linebacker position will be addressed through the draft by acquiring high caliber prospects.

    The success of the draft and the performance of those new additions, remains to be seen.  Ultimately this prediction will change after draft day and even more so once rosters begin to take shape during the pre-season.

    I look forward to re-evaluating the 2012 schedule when the time comes.

    Follow Mike on Twitter @BigHoagowski


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