Friday, September 8, 2023

Cleveland Browns Week 1 NFL Power Rankings Roundup

Throughout the 2023 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Below you will find a Week 1 roundup for the Cleveland Browns in our consensus 2023 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 18

On the hot seat: Coach Kevin Stefanski

Stefanski won NFL Coach of the Year honors as a rookie head coach in 2020. But since then, the Browns have struggled through back-to-back losing seasons -- although quarterback uncertainty has been the biggest culprit. Still, the pressure is firmly on Stefanski this season to finally produce a winning record again while proving he's the coach and playcaller who can help QB Deshaun Watson lead the offense. Given the $230 million investment in Watson, anything short of a return to the postseason and Cleveland will likely be on the hunt for yet another coach next offseason. -- Jake Trotter -- Rank: 18

The Browns initially were my summer crush, the team I thought had the best chance to be this year's 2022 Vikings. But as the days wore on, with kicking issues and injuries darkening my thoughts, my eyes started to wander. Deshaun Watson almost certainly will be better than the version we saw on the field last season. But by how much? The division has a razor-thin margin, and the Browns lost six one-score games a year ago. They can't afford further kicking woes and disappointing QB play.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 9

The roster is impressive, so it's all about Deshaun Watson. If he plays like he did with the Texans, this is going to be a playoff team.

USA Today -- Rank: 13

The pressure will be on QB Deshaun Watson and HC Kevin Stefanski this season ... though new coordinator Jim Schwartz and his defense have the potential to alleviate it significantly.

The Athletic -- Rank: 14

Best-case scenario: Everything comes together. Deshaun Watson rediscovers his playmaking ability while also succeeding within the structure of Kevin Stefanski's offense. Cedric Tillman is a surprise Offensive Rookie of the Year contender, and Nick Chubb leads the league in rushing behind Pro Bowl guard Michael Dunn. Jim Schwartz does what he does best in turning around a bad defense as Myles Garrett tops T.J. Watt's record for most sacks in a season. For the first time in franchise history, the Browns make the Super Bowl.

Worst-case scenario: Everything falls apart. Watson looks like he did last season, lost in an offense at odds with how he wants to play, and begins pointing fingers at Stefanski by midseason. Cameras catch Stefanski slamming his headset on the sideline after Watson refuses to run a play that's called. Owner Jimmy Haslam installs Schwartz as interim head coach the following week before cleaning house in the offseason and hiring Dabo Swinney for the highest fully guaranteed contract for a coach in league history.

FOX -- Rank: 17

Make no mistake, the Browns are only this low because of what they looked like the last month of 2022. This Cleveland team reminds me of last year's Eagles in the sense that they have all the pieces in place — except for a big question mark at quarterback. Obviously, the circumstances aren't the same. Jalen Hurts was a young guy looking to take the next step, while Deshaun Watson is trying to regain his form after off-field issues sidelined him for roughly two years. If he plays like a $230 million quarterback, the Browns are just as capable of making a run as any team in the AFC.

Yahoo! -- Rank: 16

It would be strange for a quarterback as good as Deshaun Watson was with Houston to simply fall off. But Watson has had a strange path the past two seasons, mostly of his own doing. The reports that Watson didn't look great in camp make the Browns a total wild card heading into the season. If Watson is right, the Browns can win the division. If he never regains his old form, Cleveland is stuck with a $230 million lemon.

PFT -- Rank: 22

Deshaun is the biggest wild-card player on the NFL's biggest wild-card team.

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