The Browns' schedule hit the presses, airwaves, Interwebs and every other form of media distribution last night at 8 p.m.
After roughly 14 hours to digest it, here are the five things that stood out most to us.
It led our story last night, and it's worth emphasizing again. Five of Hue Jackson's first seven games as Cleveland Browns head coach will be on the road, starting with the season opener in Philadelphia and including two sets of back-to-backs: Week 3 and Week 4 in Miami and Washington and Week 6 and Week 7 at Tennessee and Cincinnati. Fortunately for the Browns, they cap the preseason with a home game against Chicago and they'll leave the Eastern time zone just once during this stretch. Had this sort of start occurred last year, when the Browns drew teams from the AFC and NFC West, the travel miles would have really piled up in a hurry.
Counting the preseason, there will be 16 consecutive weeks of football for the Browns, who will wait the longest of any team to receive their bye. A common refrain was seen on social media as the news about Cleveland's Week 13 bye trickled out. "I didn't even know it was possible to have a Week 13 bye." Though bye weeks ended Week 12 last season, both the Browns and Titans were handed the latest rest periods in 2016. What a difference two years makes, as Cleveland was dealt a Week 4 bye week in Mike Pettine's first season.
Flip through our 2016 schedule.
Division games spread out
Another big contrast from last year's schedule is the distribution of division games. Last year, Cleveland played just one game against an AFC North foe in its first eight weeks, and that didn't come until Week 5 at Baltimore. The Browns played four consecutive games against AFC North teams during the Week 9-13 stretch with a bye placed in the middle of it. This year? The AFC North slate starts with a home opener against the Ravens. There's also just one set of back-to-back games against division opponents, and there's 10 days separating the Week 10 Thursday night matchup at Baltimore and the Week 11 home game against Pittsburgh.
All sorts of homecomings
The Browns game that stood out most to national analysts falls Week 4, when Robert Griffin III returns to Washington, where he spent the first four years of his career. The NFL is full of coaches and players who have called more than one place home during their respective careers, so that's nowhere near the only "homecoming" moment on Cleveland's schedule. In Week 1, the Browns will square off against their offensive coordinator from 2015, John DeFilippo, who is now the Eagles' quarterbacks coach. Week 3 features a matchup with former Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron, who is now with the Dolphins. Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton will square off against the team he led in the same position the past two seasons Week 6 at Tennessee. Travis Benjamin will be back at FirstEnergy Stadium on Week 16 when San Diego comes to town. And, of course, there's Jackson's return to Cincinnati, where he worked the past four seasons as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator, in Week 7.
With a schedule loaded up with opponents in Eastern and Northern parts of the country, it was going to be difficult to find much relief from winter weather late in the season. With the Miami game slotted for Week 3, and a trip to Buffalo plopped in the middle of December, the Browns are looking at four consecutive games with snow potential to finish the season. Perhaps that will work to Cleveland's advantage Week 16 when San Diego travels across the country to play the Browns on Christmas Eve.