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Browns schedule 2020 power rankings: The best games ranked 1-16

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 5/8/2020 By Dan Labbe, cleveland.com
a group of football players: Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden celebrates his game-ending interception with teammate free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter, December 1, 2019, at Heinz Field. © John Kuntz, cleveland.com/cleveland.com/cleveland.com/TNS Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden celebrates his game-ending interception with teammate free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter, December 1, 2019, at Heinz Field.

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- We know the who, where and when of the Browns schedule. If everything goes off as planned, they will open their season in Baltimore on September 13 followed four days later by the home opener against the Bengals.

Which games are the best games? Here’s a look at the schedule power-ranking style:

1. Week 6: Oct. 18 -- at Pittsburgh Steelers

The first matchup against the Steelers also provides Myles Garrett’s first trip to Pittsburgh since hitting Mason Rudolph with Rudolph’s helmet. It’s safe to say this won’t be a welcoming atmosphere and this game will garner plenty of national attention as the incident will get brought up throughout the week. This game will feel like a rivalry game.

2. Week 14: Dec. 14 -- Baltimore Ravens (Monday Night Football)

This is an upside ranking. A cold night in Cleveland. The AFC North race sprinting towards the finish. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens against a rejuvenated Baker Mayfield and the resurgent Browns. ESPN getting a marquee matchup on Monday night so a weekend of promos leading up to the game. This could be everything a Browns-Ravens matchup is supposed to be, as long as both sides hold up their end of the bargain.

a group of football players on a field: Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden reacts after intercepting an overthrown pass intended for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry in the second half. © Joshua Gunter, cleveland.com/cleveland.com/cleveland.com/TNS Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden reacts after intercepting an overthrown pass intended for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry in the second half.

3. Week 4: Oct. 4 -- at Dallas Cowboys

Just like with all things Cowboys, this game is getting way too much love on this list, but I can’t help it. A trip to Jerry World to start off the month of October between two teams coming off disappointing seasons hoping to finally reach their full potential is fun. No, it’s not as important as some of the division games or even the other AFC games, but if you’re not looking forward to this one, I can’t help you.

4. Week 1: Sept. 13 -- at Baltimore Ravens

Of course we’re division-heavy at the top of the rankings. These games just matter more. The outcome of this game, if we’re being honest, is going to feel more important than it really is in the moment, even if it is an AFC North matchup. The entire month of September is wonky in the NFL and opening week is especially unpredictable. Still, it is the opener and it’s against the Ravens, so crank up the hype machine to 11.

5. Week 5: Oct. 11 -- Indianapolis Colts

This is a good early test for both teams. The Colts, who got off to a strong start a season ago, have a new quarterback and hope to make a playoff push this year. The Browns are hoping for the same. This is about the time in the season, too, when teams are really figuring out who they are and positioning themselves for the second half.

6. Week 13: Dec. 6 -- at Tennessee Titans

Why is this game so high? Well, consider the playoff chase really gets going after Thanksgiving. The Titans, trying to build on their run to the AFC Championship Game last season, could again find themselves in the frantic race for the postseason in December and the Browns hope to be in the same position.

7. Week 17: Jan. 3 -- Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 17 games and their meaning are impossible to know, but we can’t let this one slide down too far. In a perfect world, this game means a ton and gets flexed to Sunday night. If nothing else, maybe it will mean enough to get moved to one of the late afternoon slots. Or, even better for Browns fans, it’s a yawner of a 1 p.m. game with the home team looking ahead to a game the following week.

8. Week 10: Nov. 15 -- Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson and the Texans have made easy work of the Browns during the young quarterback’s short career. This is Watson’s first trip to Cleveland and we’ll either be talking about two teams fighting for playoff spots or about how the Browns passed on Watson in 2017.

9. Week 11: Nov. 22 -- Philadelphia Eagles

Another late measuring stick against a team with high upside but plenty of unknowns. There are a lot of teams like this on the Browns schedule, if we’re being honest, who possess high best-case scenarios but also have the potential to get stuck in the 7-9/8-8 muck. Sounds a little bit like the Browns, if we’re being honest. Oh, and, lucky us, we might get to revisit the 2016 draft, especially if Carson Wentz is healthy and playing well and Baker Mayfield is struggling.

10. Week 2: Sept. 17 -- Cincinnati Bengals (Thursday Night Football)

I know, Joe Burrow, No. 1 pick, division game, home opener, but the Battle of Ohio has lost its sizzle and the outside factors aren’t enough to get me super excited about it. Burrow on a short week, faces a tough challenge and the Bengals could be a surprising team if their injury luck turns and their offensive line holds up, but we won’t know it when this game kicks off.

11. Week 15: Dec. 20 -- at New York Giants

The Christmas present this year from the NFL is storylines galore for this game, most notably Odell Beckham Jr.’s return to face his former team, which will dominate the headlines. There’s also Mayfield’s comments on Daniel Jones last offseason. Unfortunately, it’s hard to say just what this game will mean and it’s also disappointing to see it slotted at 1 p.m. instead of in a juicy Monday night spot.

12. Week 16: Dec. 26 or 27 -- at New York Jets

Are we ever going to get the Mayfield vs. Sam Darnold showdown we’ve been waiting to see ever since the two got drafted? Maybe this will be the year and maybe there will be some real stakes, but we’re still waiting to see these two really have a duel.

13. Week 7: Oct. 25 -- at Cincinnati Bengals

A more settled-in Burrow and a better idea of who the Bengals are this season will make this game more interesting, but it’s still just not super exciting to think about in May.

14. Week 8: Nov. 1 -- Las Vegas Raiders

The first of three straight home games, the Browns head to their bye after this one. Damarious Randall returns to Cleveland, so we’ll watch to see if he has anything wild lined up, but there isn’t much to get excited about at the moment.

15. Week 3: Sept. 27 -- Washington Redskins

Lots of appeal for Ohio State fans, but not much else to get too amped up for this game. The Browns, if they are who we think they can be, should be able to make quick work of Washington.

16. Week 12: Nov. 29 -- at Jacksonville Jaguars

The Joe Schobert revenge game? ... Anyone? ... Who doesn’t want to spend Thansgiving weekend in Jacksonville? ... Anyone? ... Sorry, Jags fans, this is a tough one, especially if Jacksonville is very much in the Trevor Lawrence/Justin Fields sweepstakes.

New Browns face masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Cleveland Browns-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection for adults and youth, including a single mask ($14.99) and a 3-pack ($24.99). All NFL proceeds donated to CDC Foundation.

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