We're taking a look at the Browns' top matchups of the 2023 regular season after the league announced on Thursday its full schedule.
Week 1 | vs. Bengals | 1 p.m.
Right away, the Browns face a crucial divisional matchup — which is a theme here in our list of the top matchups.
The Browns will instantly face a big test against Joe Burrow and the Bengals and will have a golden opportunity to start the season by building ground in the AFC North. It's the first of three divisional games the Browns will play in the first month of the season, and it'll come against a team that has advanced to the AFC Championship game in each of the last two years.
The Browns stumped the Bengals 32-13 when they played in Cleveland last year in what was their best win of the season. They'll certainly take that type of performance again in Week 1.
Week 2 | @ Steelers | 8:15 p.m. (Monday Night Football)
Two top matchups in the first two games?
Yup. It'll be that type of start to the season for the Browns, who will head to Pittsburgh for MNF and play a primetime game against the Steelers for the fifth consecutive year. A win for the Browns in Week 1 will make this game even bigger — and offer a chance for them to establish themselves as an early leader of the division.
It's the first of two primetime games the Browns are set to play this season. The second one cracked our list, too, but it'll come much later in the year.
The Browns' 2023 regular-season schedule has been released. Check out how the season unfolds with this photo gallery
Week 4 | vs. Ravens | 1 p.m.
All of the early divisional games will be crucial for the Browns, but this one might be the most important of them all.
Think about how big this game could be regardless of how the Browns start. They'll have already played two divisional opponents, and if they win both games, this one will be for a chance to build a commanding 3-0 record in the division, which would offer them lots of cushion for later in the year and solidify a hot start to the season.
If they split both games, this one offers them a chance to head into the bye with a winning divisional record.
And if things don't go as planned in those first two games, this matchup offers them a valuable chance to get back on track and head into a very early Week 5 bye week with momentum and good vibes.
It's just as important, if not more crucial than any other game on the schedule.
Week 6 | vs. 49ers | 1 p.m.
After playing three divisional games in the four weeks before the bye week, the Browns will return and face perhaps their toughest non-divisional opponent on the schedule.
In the first of three NFC opponents the Browns will play this season, the 49ers will likely be the most talented of the trio. Their quarterback situation for the season remains unclear, but head coach Kyle Shanahan has proven he can build a Super Bowl-contending team with just about anyone under center. The Browns will also have to find a way to lock up Pro Bowlers RB Christian McCaffrey, TE George Kittle and WR Deebo Samuel.
The Browns' offense, meanwhile, will face perhaps their toughest defensive matchup of the year. San Francisco boasted three All-Pro players last season in LB Fred Warner, S Talanoa Hufanga and DE Nick Bosa. The bye week offers a chance to get a jump on preparations, but the Browns can't afford to come out slow from the break.
Week 17 | vs. Jets | 8:15 p.m. (Thursday Night Football)
The Browns' home matchup against Aaron Rodgers will be under the lights in a late-season midweek battle.
Serious playoff implications could be in play here, too, and the Browns would almost certainly have to capitalize on them with a rematch against the Bengals looming the following week.
The game will actually be the second time the Browns play the Jets in 2023 — they'll see them in Canton for the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 3 — but this will be the one that counts, and it guarantees to be a big matchup between two teams who have reasons to believe they'll look vastly improved from 7-10 records last season.