If there is an NFL season next year, we already know who the Browns will play, even if we don’t know the order. In 2010 the Browns got the whole AFC East, the whole NFC South, the worst team from the AFC South, the worst from the AFC West and their annual divisional opponents. The non-divisional teams accounted for 76 wins in 2009, the year prior to playing the Browns. Bucs (3,) Chiefs (4,) Falcons (9,) Saints (13,) Pats (10,) Jets (9,) Jags (7,) Panthers (8,) Dolphins (7,) and Bills (6).
In 2011 the Browns get the entire AFC South, the entire NFC West, the second worst AFC East team, and the second worst AFC West team. The Browns finished above the Bengals in their division, so that means the Browns get the Dolphins and Raiders while the Bengals get the Bills and Broncos. That in and of itself is a 7 win swing. (Dolphins + Raiders = 15, while Bills + Broncos = 8.)
If you add up all the 2010 wins for the Browns’ 2011 non-divisional opponents the total is 70. Colts (10,) Jags (8,) Texans (6,) Titans (6,) Seahawks (7,) Rams (7,) 49ers (6,) Cardinals (5,) Raiders (8,) Dolphins (7.) So even in a very unscientific and simplistic measure the Browns’ schedule is 6 wins easier than what it was a year ago. If the Browns had found a way to be worse than the Bengals this season, the number would be seven lower to 63.
It isn’t overly scientific, but by at least one measure you could argue the Browns will have an easier season in 2011 should a CBA get completed. Then again, we don’t truly know who the Browns will be next year with new coaches and another giant roster turnover. So, I’ll spare you the pre-season wins and losses analysis just yet. It isn’t like you would have believed me if I told you the Browns were going to lose to the Bucs and Chiefs but beat the Pats and Saints anyway.