CLEVELAND, Ohio — The NFL, for some reason, for the second year in a row gave the Cleveland Browns the toughest regular-season game on their schedule as their opener. It’s not just the toughest game on their 2021 schedule, it’s the toughest possible opener in the entire league.
After opening the 2020 season on the road against the team with the NFL’s best record the year before, the Browns are doing it again in 2021. It was 14-2 Baltimore last year and it’s 14-2 Kansas City this year, and I’m assuming the overreactions to the meaning of the game are already underway.
Unless you think the Browns are going 17-0 (and I’ll listen to arguments), you have to assume the Browns are going to lose because beating great teams on the road is difficult. If your point is that the Browns may have to win in Kansas City in the playoffs to make the Super Bowl, my point is that the AFC Championship Game isn’t played in September, and every team loses, so a schedule is about finding reasonable wins and losses.
A loss at Kansas City is reasonable, especially since the Chiefs and Packers are the only two non-division opponents on the schedule that had better records than the Browns last season. Kansas City won 14, Green Bay won 13, the Browns won 11, and none of their other nine opponents outside the division were better than 8-8. So…