ACTION247: Cleveland Browns
Current fans of the Cleveland Browns might not be able to grasp just how good this team was in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.
The team began its existence in 1946 in the new All-American Football Conference, a league that lasted for four years, and a league championship that was won all four years by the Browns. They then moved over to the NFL in 1950, and the winning continued.
Cleveland played in the NFL Championship in eight of their first nine years in the league, winning the title in 1950, 1954, and 1955. Paul Brown was Coach of the Year three times during that stretch, Otto Graham was the league MVP three times, and in their runner-up year of 1957, a rookie running back named Jim Brown was both the Rookie of the Year and the NFL MVP.
With Brown winning two more MVP awards during his time with the Browns, Cleveland won another NFL Championship in 1964, and they finished as the runner-up in 1965. And even after both Paul Brown and Jim Brown left the team, they still played in two more NFL Championship Games in 1968 and 1969.
And then… crickets.
In 1970 the AFL and NFL merged, and the Browns were moved to the newly formed AFC. And they wouldn’t win another playoff game until 1986 – a streak of 17 years. From 1986 to 1994, they won four playoff games, but then after that, it wasn’t until 2020 that they would win another one.
The team has four NFL championships, but they are one of just four teams to never play in the Super Bowl. They do, however, have some of the greatest players ever to play football.
No one in history has run the ball like Jim Brown. A true great. Graham led the NFL in passing yards five times in seven years. Paul Brown retired with a .672 winning percentage, ranking just behind Don Shula and George Halas.
NFL Big Changes from Last Season – Cleveland Browns
In 2020 the Browns had their best season in decades. They won a playoff game and nearly won a second in the Divisional Round at Kansas City, who eventually won the AFC.
It gave Browns fans huge expectations for 2021. They were even talking about the Super Bowl, something that had been unthinkable since they appeared in the AFC Championship Game twice in the 1980s.
But 2021 did not go well. Injuries took out Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt for 12 combined games, and quarterback Baker Mayfield, hailed as a hero in January of 2021, was suddenly responsible for everything that was going wrong.
This offseason, Mayfield was shipped to Carolina, and the Browns made the big and controversial trade for Deshaun Watson. Watson’s suspension in 2021 has tempered the enthusiasm for the trade on the field, and the many allegations of sexual misconduct have soured many loyal Browns fans on the team’s front office.
But this team still has Myles Garrett, and he is one of the favorites to win Defensive Player of the Year in 2022. Joining him on the defensive line is free agent acquisition Taven Bryan, who played in Jacksonville last season.
The Browns also spent their first two draft picks on defensive players: cornerback Martin Emerson from Mississippi State and defensive end Alex Wright from UAB. Emerson is fourth in a very good group of corners, and Wright has the opportunity to see a good amount of playing time on a rotation with Jadeveon Clowney and across from Garrett.
On offense, they added a reliable wide receiver in Amari Cooper, and coming over from Miami is quarterback Jacoby Brissett. The six-year veteran has made 37 starts in his career, and he will add to that total this year while Watson serves his suspension.
* All odds provided by Action247 Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.