The 1949 Browns are probably the lowest-rated of their four All-America Football Conference clubs, which is like saying this is the ugliest of four supermodels.
That is, all of the Browns teams from 1946-49 were outstanding -- maybe some a little more so than others.
The Browns finished the regular season 9-1-2 to win the Western Division title for a fourth straight year, then defeated the Buffalo Bills 31-21 in the first round of the playoffs. That advanced them to the AAFC title game, where they captured the championship for the fourth time in a row, 21-7 over the San Francisco 49ers.
The contest against the Bills marked the only year in the AAFC in which the Browns had to work their way through an extra round of playoffs before getting to the league title game. From 1946-48, they had qualified for that contest directly after winning the division.
But the much bigger issue is the fact the 1949 season was the last for the AAFC, and the Browns are to "blame." Not only did they, as mentioned, win the title in each of the league's four years of existence, but they were also a staggering 47-4-3 in the regular season and 52-4-3 overall.
So in the end, they were simply too dominant, making the AAFC non-competitive and, in a general sense, non-interesting. As a result, the league folded at the end of the season.
However, as part of a deal with the NFL, the Browns, 49ers and Baltimore Colts were absorbed into the bigger league for the 1950 season, giving the AAFC an after-life in at least one respect that still exists today.
The Browns' three blemishes in 1949 consisted of a 56-28 pounding by the 49ers, their arch rivals at the time, and two ties with the Bills, 28-28 in the opener and 7-7. The loss to the 49ers was, by far, the most lopsided for the Browns in the AAFC. Previous to that, their worst "drubbing" came midway through that inaugural season of 1946 when they fell 34-20 to the 49ers.
Other than that, though, the 1949 Browns were a juggernaut. They edged the 49ers 30-28 in the rematch two games later and easily swept the season series from another of their chief rivals, the Los Angeles Dons, 42-7 and 61-14.
In a four-game stretch early in the year, they outscored their opponents 105-30. In the final four contests of the regular season, the margin was 77-15.
The Browns did indeed, then, follow the old adage that it's good to start the season fast and finish it fast.
In the regular season, the Browns scored 339 points, or an average of 27.1 per game, and gave up 171 (14.3). As he did nearly every year during this era, quarterback Otto Graham led the way, throwing for 2,785 yards and 19 touchdowns while being intercepted just 10 times.
Wide receivers Mac Speedie and Hall of Famer Dante Lavelli both recorded seven TD catches, with Speedie having a team-high 62 receptions overall. Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Marion Motley rushed for 605 yards and eight TDs.
Defensively, safety Cliff Lewis was tops with six interceptions, while linebacker Tony Adamle and cornerbacks Tommy James and Warren Lahr each had four.
The Browns had accomplished everything possible during their four-year run in the AAFC. They desperately needed a challenge, and they got it with the move to the NFL.
|9/5||T 28-28||at Buffalo Bills||31,893|
|9/11||W 21-0||Baltimore Colts||21,621|
|9/18||W 14-3||New York Yankees||26,312|
|9/25||W 28-20||at Baltimore Colts||36,837|
|10/2||W 42-7||Los Angeles Dons||30,465|
|10/9||L 28-56||at San Fransisco 49ers||59,720|
|10/14||W 61-14||at Los Angeles Dons||27,427|
|10/30||W 30-28||San Fransisco 49ers||72,189|
|11/6||W 35-2||Chicago Hornets||16,506|
|11/13||T 7-7||Buffalo Bills||22,511|
|11/20||W 31-0||at New York Yankees||50,711|
|11/24||W 14-6||at Chicago Hornets||5,031|
|12/4||W 31-21||Buffalo Bills||17,270|
|12/11||W 21-7||San Fransisco 49ers||22,550|