The Cleveland Browns released their team schedule for the 2010-2011 NFL regular season.
In addition to facing their AFC North division rivals twice, the Browns will play the NFC North and AFC East with two added games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Parity, player movement, and free agency create different levels of intrigue within each individual matchup.
Here is how the schedule breaks down:
Week 1: Cleveland Browns @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Browns open the 2010 season on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both teams have struggled in recent years and likely believe they have a good chance to start the season with a win. Former Browns tight end Kellen Winslow and center Jeff Faine face off against their former team while current Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme re-visits a ghost from his past.
Week 2: Kansas City Chiefs @ Cleveland Browns
Romeo Crennel returns to Cleveland. Reunited with Charlie Weis and Scott Pioli, the Browns’ former head coach and current Chiefs defensive coordinator faces off against his two-time successor and protegee, Eric Mangini. Defense and special teams were optional last time the two teams met in Kansas City. The Chiefs defense will look to regain some of their pride by containing Jerome Harrison – who ran for 286 yards against them last year.
Week 3: Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens
Last time the two teams met in Baltimore, it wasn’t pretty for Cleveland. The Browns did not fare well offensively or defensively, and will look to avenge the 3-34 defeat they suffered at the hands of the Ravens. After petitioning the Ravens for a trade to Cleveland, will Troy Smith remain with the team? Eric Mangini’s Browns have yet to defeat the Baltimore Ravens.
Week 4: Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
Browns/Bengals has turned into a battle of good versus evil. The Cleveland Browns emphasize good, high-character players who play by the rules on and off the field. The Cincinnati Bengals are notorious for taking chances on talented players who have had their shares run-ins with the law. Two teams with contrasting ideals square off with the state of Ohio as the prize.
Week 5: Atlanta Falcons @ Cleveland Browns
The Browns and Falcons have only met 12 times in NFL history. Of those 12 games, the Browns have won 10 for an .833 winning percentage – the highest winning percentage Cleveland has over any other club. Atlanta will look to chip away at the deficit as they travel to Cleveland in what has the makings of an offensive shootout.
Week 6: Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers
It can be argued the Browns single-handedly kept the Steelers out of the playoffs by handing them their fifth-consecutive loss late in 2009. The Steelers, who have dominated the Browns over the last decade, only hold a slim 56-58 series lead. The Browns could even the mark in 2010, but they will have to win at Pittsburgh first – something they have not done since 2003.
Week 7: Cleveland Browns @ New Orleans Saints
With their bye week on the horizon, the Browns can let it all hang out as they take their best shot at the defending Super Bowl champion Saints. Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme makes an emotional return to his native New Orleans where he made his professional debut. Delhomme historically plays well in his home state and will look to do so in what could be his last game in the Big Easy.
Week 8: Bye
The Browns’ bye week comes near the middle of the season – a perfect time to rest up, re-evaluate, and prepare for arguably the biggest game in Eric Mangini’s career as a head coach.
Week 9: New England Patriots @ Cleveland Browns
In 2002, the Cleveland Browns were the New England Patriots. Head coach Eric Mangini coached defensive backs. Current offensive coordinator Brian Daboll coached wide receivers. Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan worked with the linebackers and Brad Seely coached special teams for Bill Belichick. If familiarity breeds contempt, the Browns and Patriots may hate each other come Sunday.
Week 10: New York Jets @ Cleveland Browns
Abram Elam, David Bowens, Eric Barton, C.J. Mosley, Kenyon Coleman, Brett Ratliff, Chansi Stuckey, Jason Trusnik, Blake Costanzo, Ray Ventrone, Reggie Hodges, Titus Adams, Brian Schaefering, Eric Mangini, Brian Daboll, Bryan Cox, and Jerome Henderson all came to Cleveland from New York. Brodney Pool and Braylon Edwards return to Cleveland. This one has the makings of one of the best games of the year.
Week 11: Cleveland Browns @ Jacksonville Jaguars
The Browns won nine of 32 games over the past two years and oddly enough, two of those wins came against Jacksonville. The Jaguars will hear about that all week as they look to catch what figures to be an emotionally-drained Cleveland Browns team on the road. Jacksonville running backs coach Earnest Byner as well as defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and assistant Corey Undlin get a closer look at the other side of the orange and brown helmets.
Week 12: Carolina Panthers @ Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns have never beaten the Carolina Panthers. Ever. Dating back to 1999, the Browns lost all three games to Carolina – two at home (17-31, 6-13) and one on the road (12-20). New Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme will shoulder the heavy task of beating his former team in what figures to be another emotional Sunday afternoon at Cleveland Browns stadium.
Week 13: Cleveland Browns @ Miami Dolphins
Browns/Dolphins figures to get wild in a hurry. The Browns send Josh Cribbs, Seneca Wallace, and the flash package to oppose the Dolphins’ deadly duo of Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown and the famous Miami wildcat. Browns outside linebacker Matt Roth faces the team that drafted him in what should be an extremely physical contest.
Week 14: Cleveland Browns @ Buffalo Bills
Browns and Bills means snow and cold. The Browns leave the warm Miami weather to grind out another tough one as they travel to play Buffalo in the middle of December. The Bills and Browns have a knack for playing tough, ugly games when the weather is at its worse. Two of the last three meetings between the teams failed to combine for more than ten points.
Week 15: Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals
Defense is usually optional any time the Browns and Bengals get together. The Bengals head into 2010 as healthy and dangerous as ever while Mike Holmgren and the Browns look to establish a similarly potent offensive attack. Cleveland begins the first of three games against division rivals where playoff implications and a division crown hang in the balance.
Week 16: Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns
After their defense is put to the test against Cincinnati, the Browns come home to test their offensive firepower against the highly aggressive Baltimore Ravens defense. Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed has terrorized Cleveland quarterbacks over the years and will look to do the same to Jake Delhomme. Will the Browns be able to minimize turnovers when it matters the most? The answer to that question will ultimately decide the winner of this game.
Week 17: Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns
The final game of the regular season may be the toughest of all for the Browns. Cleveland has not won back-to-back home games against the Steelers dating back to the 1991-1992 seasons. If president Mike Holmgren and coach Eric Mangini truly intend on turning the team round, they must exorcise the historic demons which have haunted the team for the past 18 years.