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5 takeaways from the Browns' 2020 schedule

The morning after the NFL released the entire 2020 schedule, we're breaking down the five biggest storylines from the Browns' 16-game slate.

1. No time to waste with back-to-back AFC North games from the jump

The Browns will have to be crisp and ready to fire on all cylinders for Kevin Stefanski's first games as head coach. The old cliche is division games count as two, so that means the Browns are playing four games in the first two weeks with a season-opening road trip to Baltimore and a Thursday Night home opener with the Bengals.

Cleveland has regularly opened up the season with an AFC North game, but it's not as common to have two in a row to start its slate. This will mark just the third time since 2007, and the Browns are hoping to win both for the first time during that stretch.

Oddly, this is the first time the Browns are opening the season with the Ravens since 2004. Here's hoping things go as well as they did 16 years ago, as the Browns won that game with relative ease, 20-3.

2. Not as much primetime, but just as much primetime at home

The headlines from last year's schedule release were all about the Browns' surplus of primetime kicks. This year puts Cleveland back in the middle of the pack with two, but it's important to note that both of those under-the-lights matchups will occur at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The Week 2 Thursday Night Football home opener will mark the first time since 1999 that Cleveland opens its home slate in primetime. It may not hurt to get that quick, four-day turnaround out of the way early in the season as opposed to later in the year, when injuries and fatigue start to snowball.

Monday Night Football is coming back to Cleveland for the first time since 2015 when the Browns host the Ravens in Week 14. The Browns are 16-16 all-time on Monday Night Football with an 11-10 mark at home. We don't need to talk about how it ended in the 2015 MNF game between these teams …

3. A well-timed bye …

Former NFL player Ross Tucker on Wednesday identified the three things he would look to see when his team's schedule was released.

He likely isn't the only one with the bye at the top of the list. For the Browns, it's hard to complain about that spot in the schedule. It sure beats the Week 4 bye they had in 2014 or the nightmare Week 13 bye they had to weather in 2016.

Because of the bye's timing, the Browns will have a long stretch of the calendar without any travel. Upon returning from Cincinnati on Oct. 25, the Browns won't get back on a plane until the day before their Nov. 29 game at Jacksonville.

4. ...But the Browns better be ready for 2nd half gauntlet

There are a handful of tough stretches on the schedule, but it's hard to find one that will test the Browns more than what they'll experience after the bye week.

Over a five-week stretch, the Browns will face all four of the teams on their schedule who made the playoffs in 2019 -- Houston, Philadelphia, Tennessee and Baltimore. Sandwiched in between is a road trip to Jacksonville, where the Browns haven't won since 2008.

Weathering this stretch will go a long way toward making the home stretch manageable.

5. New York, New York

The Browns have known for months they'd be headed to MetLife Stadium twice in 2020. What they didn't know is it would be in back-to-back weeks during the final quarter of the season.

Adding even more intrigue to this scheduling quirk is the lack of a set date for the Week 16 game against the Jets. If the game is played on the Saturday, that will be two games in the same stadium over six days. 

The Browns will hope to replicate what the Bills did in this very same circumstance last year. Buffalo opened the season with back-to-back games at MetLife Stadium and came away winners of both.

The Browns' 2020 regular-season schedule has been released. Check out how the season unfolds with this photo gallery

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