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Make-or-break points in the schedule for Cleveland Browns, AFC North

There's been no shortage of ink and Internet space devoted to explaining the difficulty each team in the AFC North will face with their respective 2015 schedule.

Drawing the NFC West and, well, playing each other serve as the main reasons why few teams have harder schedules than any of the four in the AFC North.

Placement of these games, though, is pivotal. The wrong team at the wrong time can spell doom on a franchise's hopes of making the playoffs.

Here's a look at the toughest stretches of games for the Browns and their AFC North colleagues.


Nov. 1 - Arizona

Nov. 5 - at Cincinnati

Nov. 15 - at Pittsburgh

Nov. 30 - Baltimore

Dec. 6 - Cincinnati

-- Browns coach Mike Pettine made it clear the moment he first laid eyes on his team's schedule. If the Browns want to achieve their ultimate goal for the 2015 season, they'll need to take care of business in the division, and there's no more important time of year to do it than November and December. Thanks to a bye week and an extra few days of rest following their Thursday night trip to Cincinnati, the Browns will play their four consecutive games against AFC North opponents over a stretch of 31 days. We included the game against Arizona here, too, because it certainly wouldn't hurt to begin this stretch with a little momentum thanks to a win over a 2014 playoff team.


Nov. 29 - at Seattle

Dec. 6 - Indianapolis

Dec. 13 - at Cincinnati

Dec. 20 - Denver

Dec. 27 - at Baltimore

-- That's five games, three on the road, in the second half of the season against five teams that made the playoffs last season. Overall, the Steelers boast the hardest schedule of any AFC North team because of their first-place finish in 2014, but this is a rough and tumble stretch against five shared opponents. An argument could be made for any of these five games to appear on Sunday Night Football.


Oct. 1 - at Pittsburgh

Oct. 11 - Cleveland

Oct. 18 - at San Francisco

Oct. 26 - at Arizona

-- Five of the Ravens' first seven games are away from Baltimore. Its only home game in October is against the Browns and comes with 10 days of rest leading up to it. Because the Ravens are playing back-to-back games in the Western time zone, they won't return home between their trips to San Francisco. The Ravens will hope this stretch of games won't jetlag them heading into the second half.


Sept. 27 - at Baltimore

Oct. 4 - Kansas City

Oct. 11 - Seattle

Oct. 18 - at Buffalo

Nov. 1 - at Pittsburgh

Nov. 5 - Cleveland

-- The Browns could benefit from being at the end of this brutal six-game stretch for their in-state rivals. The two games against teams that weren't in the playoffs last year, Kansas City and Buffalo, are tricky, especially against a rebuilt Bills team that is always tough on its home field. There's an Oct. 25 bye to break things up a bit, but the Bengals will have just four days of rest between their trip to Pittsburgh and return home against the Browns. As Cleveland fans remember, Cincinnati didn't exactly handle that short amount of rest well last season.

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