Skip to main content


Four Downs: What we know, don't know about AFC North, upcoming Browns opponents


Welcome to Four Downs, a bi-weekly article that takes a deeper look at the storylines, matchups and anything else involving the Browns on their two days away from the field: Tuesday and Saturday.

Our Week 3 edition looks at the Browns' updated strength of schedule, changing philosophies around the league and a simple, powerful Tweet of the Week.

How does the Browns' 2015 schedule look now?

Week 2 is over and done, and that means we've had two weeks to overreact to all that's happened around the NFL. Who would have thought Andrew Luck and the Colts would be 0-2? And how about that Jets defense?

Our concern is on the future, of course, and how the latest developments around the league affect the Browns. Sunday's game against the Raiders would sure look a whole lot different if Oakland repeated its opening-weekend clunker of a performance rather than breaking out the offensive fireworks to beat the Ravens.

Here's what we know and still don't know about the Browns' AFC North rivals and the other teams on the horizon for the 1-1 Browns.

Pittsburgh (1-1)

What we know: The offense hasn't missed a beat without Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant. No one in the NFL's gained more yards (917) than the Steelers. Bell will be back this week and Bryant returns Week 5.

What we don't know: Is the offense enough to overcome porous play in the secondary? Even in a rout Sunday against the 49ers, the Steelers surrendered 335 passing yards.

Baltimore (0-2)

What we know: Baltimore needs a home game. After spending two weeks on the western half of the country, the Ravens are winless in their first two games for the first time since John Harbaugh took over in 2008.

What we don't know: Which defense do the Ravens really have? The one that limited Peyton Manning and the Broncos to four field goals or the one that gave up 448 yards and 37 points to the Raiders?

Cincinnati (2-0)

What we know: The Bengals have a new, bona fide weapon in their passing game with the emergence of tight end Tyler Eifert. He's already got a career high with three touchdowns and leads Cincinnati in targets.

What we don't know: Can the Bengals offensive line keep this up against better defensive fronts? Andy Dalton hasn't been sacked and has been pressured just six times in two games.

Oakland (1-1)

What we know: Rookie Amari Cooper is the only first-round receiver to contribute much to his respective team so far. Cooper has 12 catches for 156 yards and a touchdown while the other five members of the class, who have been heavily afflicted by injuries, have combined for eight catches and 109 yards.

What we don't know: Can the Raiders, led by defensive-minded coach Jack Del Rio, stop anybody? Oakland is last in total defense, 31st in scoring defense and has been particularly vulnerable against the pass.

San Diego (1-1)

What we know: A game is never over with Philip Rivers at quarterback. Five of San Diego's six touchdowns in its first two games have come in the second half.

What we don't know: Who is Rivers' No. 1 receiver? After catching a whopping 15 passes in the season opener, Keenan Allen had two catches for 16 yards against the Bengals.

Denver (1-1)

What we know: The Broncos' defense, which has been supplemented with a number of talented veterans, is nasty. They're second in total defense and have already scored two touchdowns.

What we don't know: Can the running game take the burden off Peyton Manning? The Broncos are 29th in the league in rushing offense and are averaging 2.8 yards per attempt.

St. Louis (1-1)

What we know: The Rams are relying heavily on non-receivers in the passing game. Tight end Jared Cook and running back Benjamin Cunningham are the team's top two leaders in catches and yards while wide receiver Kenny Britt leads his group with seven receptions for 81 yards.

What we don't know: How much of an impact will rookie Todd Gurley have when he returns? Without him, St. Louis is 27th in the NFL in rushing offense.

2) Will Browns follow suit in evolving extra-point philosophy?

All things considered, there wasn't much buzz surrounding the rule to move extra points back to 33 yards. The consensus thought: Those sorts of kicks are considered close to automatic, too, so how could it possibly affect the game that much?

Well, it has.

NFL kickers have already missed more extra points in two weeks (nine) than they did all last year. And we've already seen at least one division rival experiment with decisions that would be previously viewed as unconventional.

The Steelers became the first team in 17 years to convert a successful two-point conversion in the first quarter. They did it twice in the first half of their romp over the 49ers and, ironically, missed their first PAT attempt.

According to Pro Football Talk, there have already been seven successful two-point conversions and teams are on pace to attempt double the number that were attempted last year.

The Browns? They're officially 5-for-5 on extra points -- 7-for-7 if you're counting the two that were rescinded because of penalties in the season opener. No two-point conversion attempts -- yet.

3) Stat of the week

The impact of Andy Lee has already been felt in a big way. The veteran is averaging a whopping 53.2 yards on his punts and, more importantly, a net of 45.8. Those would both be good for career highs -- by a long shot -- if they stood for the entire season.

Not bad for a self-professed slow starter.

Only Atlanta's Matt Bosher has averaged more yards on his punts and only two others have a better net.

4) Tweet of the week

That says it all.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content