The 6 most important games on the Browns 2021 schedule

·4 min read

The Cleveland Browns are coming off a fantastic 11-5 season in 2020, one which culminated in the franchise’s first playoff victory in the 21st century. There is considerable promise surrounding coach Kevin Stefanski’s young Browns in 2021.

If the Browns are to surpass last year’s tremendous steps in the winning direction, there are a few telling games on the 2021 schedule. How the Browns fare these key matchups or difficult challenges will tell a lot about if the 2021 regular season will be considered a success or not.

Here are the six games that stood out upon the official schedule release.

Week 1 - at Kansas City Chiefs

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Cleveland's season ended in Kansas City in January when the Chiefs prevailed in a hard-fought battle in the AFC divisional round. It was a game the Browns absolutely could have won with a few inches or officiating judgments went differently. The game was so intriguing that the NFL commanded a repeat matchup to kick off the season. The Chiefs have a completely rebuilt offensive line in front of Patrick Mahomes and one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL. But Baker Mayfield is known for feeling dangerous in his own right. A win in Kansas City immediately thrusts the Browns into the front-runner spot in the entire AFC. A loss and some inevitable questions will come, deserved or not.

Week 8 -Pittsburgh Steelers

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When last we saw the Steelers, the Browns triumphantly celebrated a wild card round victory on the Heinz Field turf while a shellshocked Ben Roethlisberger pondered his future solemnly on the bench. Pittsburgh remembers that all too well. This is their first shot at redemption, and they'll give the Browns their best shot. It's also the first AFC North game for Cleveland on the schedule. Division wins--especially at home--are must-haves if the Browns want to host a postseason game or two.

Week 10 - at New England Patriots

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The Patriots aren't used to missing the playoffs, but New England struggled through its worst season in decades in 2020. With several COVID-19 opt-outs back and some nice free agent acquisitions, Bill Belichick is poised to have his Patriots squarely back in the postseason fray. A road win in New England would do wonders for the national perception of the Browns, even if they enter the game as the AFC's top Dawgs. Knocking off New England could also keep the ever-dangerous Belichick out of the postseason, too.

Week 12 - at Baltimore Ravens

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After what looks like the easiest game on the schedule in Week 11--a visit from the rebuilding Detroit Lions--the Browns get their first crack at the primary target: the Ravens. Baltimore is the team the Browns are chasing to vanquish from the top of the AFC North. Cleveland has had some success in Baltimore but it's never easy. With the bye week after this epic matchup, expect the Browns to leave everything on the field.

Week 14 - Baltimore Ravens

(AP Photo/David Richard)

Yeah. Them again. Two games in a row, with an extremely late bye week sandwiched between. Win this one and the Browns figure to at least be in control of their own playoff destiny and perhaps the AFC North race, especially if Week 12 falls in the "W" column. A loss here out of a bye is a bad way to start the difficult home stretch.

Week 16 - at Green Bay Packers

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The Browns first trip to Green Bay since 2013 should be a marquee matchup. No current Browns players have ever worn the brown and orange inside Lambeau Field. The Packers are a major wild card with the Aaron Rodgers status up in the air. But this is a team that has gone 13-3 two seasons in a row and advanced to the NFC Championship game both years. Beating the Packers would make an excellent Christmas present for Browns fans.

Week 18 - Cincinnati Bengals

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The Browns need to finish with a flourish. Unless this is a "rest" game with the playoffs already clinched, beating the Bengals and ending the regular season on a high note is the only acceptable way to enter the postseason, or God forbid, the offseason.

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