Picking the winners of games four months or more in advance is hard. Making those predictions without knowing the identity of one team’s starting quarterback? Even harder. And that’s especially true when one of the options at QB is a three-time Pro Bowler who recently led the NFL in passing yards and the other is a journeyman who’ll be on his fourth team in just seven seasons.
But with the Cleveland Browns’ 2022 schedule set — and with football always on our minds throughout the offseason — we set out recently to pick every game. We’d like you to do the same — and you’ll get a free item from the Heavy Store just for submitting your picks.
Here’s how to get in on the action:
- Check out our picks in the video at the top of this post. I’m joined in the video by friend-of-the-site Meredith Kain from 92.3 the Fan and the That’s What B Said podcast.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the post and leave a comment predicting the winner of each game, along with your pick for the Browns’ final regular-season record.
- Once you’ve commented with your picks, we’ll send you a discount code to use for one free item in the Heavy Store.
That’s it. Make your picks. Get free merch, in plenty of time to wear to the Dawg Pound this coming season. (The Browns’ home opener is Week 2 against the Jets. Meredith and I both have that as a win.)
Heavy on Browns’ 2022 Game-by-Game Predictions
Below is my conversation with Meredith. It’s been lightly edited for clarity.
Ben: So here’s the deal, Meredith. Rapid-fire schedule. We’ll go through. I guess you could say a tie if you wanted to, but it should be win, loss, win loss. The question is what are the ground rules? So I’ll give you three options. You could assume a six-game suspension (for Deshaun Watson). I think you could assume a six-game suspension to start the season. If you really wanted to, you could assume a suspension later in the season.
Meredith: It’s really tough because we’ve done the schedule game a couple of times on our radio station, and I don’t think we ever established whether it’s a Deshaun Watson-led team or it’s a somebody-else-led team. I don’t think we ever established that, now that I think about it.
Ben: Alright I’m going to do an arbitrary ground rules here, which is I’m assuming a six-game suspension for Watson to start the season. Is that a reasonable assumption?
Meredith: Yeah, I think so. So you think he’s going to come back Week 7 against Baltimore?
Ben: I’m not going to even say that that’s what I think. I’m going to say that for the purposes of this exercise, that’s what I’m going to assume. You know what I’m saying? I’m not going to make a prediction. I will say, by the way: I just called this up. You know the Browns are, along with the Ravens, the co-favorite to win the AFC North?
Meredith: That’s surprising, especially considering we’re coming off a Bengals appearance in the Super Bowl.
Ben: So we’ll do this briefly and then get to the schedule. It’s really close, Meredith. So the Browns and Ravens both at +200, which is mostly where they were most of last season. In fact, when I had you and Bri on our show last fall, I live bet the Browns to win the division, and that was a bad bet on my part.
Meredith: I remember that! And then you were texting us us saying I need to change my bet.
Ben: I cashed it out shortly thereafter. So the Bengals are close behind that. They’re at +210, and then — Browns fans watching this who hate the Steelers will like this — the Steelers are +850. So the Steelers are massive, massive longshots. The oddsmakers think it’s not going to be surprising if the Browns or Ravens or Bengals win it, but I do wonder what’s going to happen if those odds if Watson is suspended. So here’s the Browns’ schedule. You think if Watson’s suspended it’s Jacoby Brissett and you don’t think It’s Baker Week 1?
Ben: OK. So let’s say Jacoby Brissett. So I’ll chime in here but you’re on the spot, Meredith. Jacoby Brissett under center, win or loss?
Meredith: I’m going to give them a win.
Ben: Me too. So 1-0.
Ben: Home to the Jets, Week 2, Sunday afternoon game. Brissett under center against the Jets.
Meredith: I still think that’s going to be another win.
Ben: Oh, I don’t know why you’re hesitating. If you’re winning at Carolina I think you’re blowing out the Jets.
Meredith: That’s true. In the words of the little kid from Big Daddy, the God Damn Jets!
Ben: I’ll tell you what, man. That dream scenario we drew up where Brissett or Baker leads them to the Super Bowl, I like the looks of this early schedule.
Meredith: I find it interesting that the sportsbook had Pittsburgh where they do, and I think it’s probably because of their quarterback situation because they’re working with, what, Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett. So in a Ben Roethlisberger world I would look at their Pittsburgh games as either split or a complete loss, but when you don’t know what you’re going against as a quarterback against the Steelers. I’m looking at Week 3 and usually I’d say “Oh, Thursday night, might be a loss. But I think that one might be a win just because I think Pittsburgh’s quarterback situation is too shaky.
Ben: Oh my God. At home. That’s nirvana! With Al Michaels on the call. At home, Michaels and Herbstreit. Amazon. Michaels on the call. That’s a win, clearly.
Meredith: Yeah, it’s gotta be a win.
Ben: I might get you to 4-0 here, Meredith. I’m going to have a hard time getting you to 5-0, although I don’t know. That Chargers game’s at home, too. At Atlanta. Going to go 4-0 here?
Meredith: So I will say this about the first six games of the season: I am looking at these six games, and whether it is Jacoby Briseet, whether it’s Deshaun Watson, all six of those games are winnable by the Browns, but there’s always one game that they lose that you completely expect them to win. And I’m looking at Weeks 4 and 5. If they beat Atlanta in Week 4, I would expect them to lose to the Chargers in Week 5, and vice versa. I think that Atlanta Los Angeles games. Those are games that you look at the schedule and look at the roster and you expect the Browns to win those games. but they always end up losing a game that you expect them to win, and I think it’s going to be either or Atlanta or Los Angeles.
Ben: I’m going to go even more negative here. I’m going to give you a loss in both because I don’t know if Jacoby is going to get you to 4-0. Atlanta’s not a horrible team. They weren’t a playoff team last year. They obviously moved on from Matt Ryan. But that’s a home game (for Atlanta.) I don’t know if Jacoby can get you to 4-0. And then the Chargers should be good. And that’s a home game for you guys, but I like Herbert.
Meredith: The Browns have lost some heart-breakers at First Energy Stadium, so I mean, people are like “oh, it’s a home game,” and I’m like “I was at the Halloween game last year against Pittsburgh. So I remember that one.
Ben: So you have them going 1-1 Weeks 4 and 5. I have them going 0-2. So you have them 4-1 through five, and I have them 3-2. Here comes the Patriots game, which is in Cleveland. 1 o’clock kick. It’s October 16. In our scenario here it’s the last game of the Watson suspension. Patriots are a big unknown. I could see them rolling by that point, but I could see them really struggling. They’ve got some weird coaching staff issues going on. I’m going to give you a win in that. Jacoby Brissett against his former team. I’m going to give you a win, which means that I got you to 4-2 during the suspension period.
Meredith: I might give them a loss for New England, and I just think that if the Browns would lose, it would be based purely on coaching because Bill Belichick is way more seasoned than Kevin Stefanski.
Ben: The counter to that is he could have Joe Judge play-calling. The Patriots’ coaching staff is a complete mess. So we’ll see what happens.
Meredith: As much as I love Kevin Stefanski, I’m going to put my money on Bill Belichick.
Ben: I’m going to put my money against Joe Judge and Matt Patricia and on the Browns. So I got you to 4-2 and Meredith got you to 4-2 also. Alright we’ll go a little bit faster. So now, Watson’s back. At Baltimore. Meredith and I both have them at 4-2. At Baltimore, Week 7.
Meredith: If it’s Watson’s first game back, I’ll probably say win because he has a lot to prove. But people forget: Watson didn’t play at all last year. If he gets six games and he serves all six games, that’s 23 games, not including preseason. So that’s 23 games that he’s not been playing in. So it’s a toss-up but I think I’m going to have to give it to the Browns.
Ben: I’m giving you a win because I’m going to trust the Browns coaching staff to manage the game properly. If he needs to dink and dunk a little bit, if he needs to run a bit, if he needs to not do anything super crazy, they’ll figure out a winnable game plan. So we both got you to 5-2. So this would be a big one. I’m Buck and Aikman I like this one, don’t you, Meredith? Monday night. Cincinnati and Cleveland, in Cleveland, on Halloween night?
Meredith: This is the second year in a row that the Browns are having an AFC North Halloween game at home. Because they played the Pittsburgh Steelers last year on Halloween, which was a Sunday. Now Halloween is a Monday and they’re playing the Bengals.
Ben: You’re going to win the game. 6-2. I’m giving it to you. 6-2.
Meredith: I’m giving a win on that one, too. Joe Burrow struggles against the Browns and that’s a home game on a Monday night. So I’m giving that one to the Browns.
Ben: Week 10, I’m giving you a loss at Miami. This is going to be a hard part of the schedule. I think Miami’s not that bad. You’re on the road. So you have the bye in Week 9, so let me catch up here. I had you 6-2 through eight. I’m giving you a loss, so I’m going to have you 6-3 through Week 10.
Meredith: I mean if we’re rapid-firing this, I’m looking at Weeks 10, 11 and 12 as probably the hardest stretch for the Browns, and I might give them a loss for all three of those games: Miami, Buffalo, and Tampa.
Ben: Same. 6-5. Sold. Moving to Houston. So Meredith and I are in agreement. We have you at 6-5 heading into Houston. Win for me. There are a lot of storylines here, but Houston’s a bad football team.
Meredith: Yeah. And if Deshaun Watson has a chip on his shoulder, he’s going to win the game.
Ben: So we got you to 7-5. I think you’re going to lose to Cincinnati, so that’s going to get you to 7-6. That game’s on the road.
Meredith: So in the AFC North, I think they’re splitting with Cincinnati. I think they’re going to split with Baltimore.
Ben: So you think they lose the Baltimore game at home? You have them winning on the road.
Meredith: Yeah. I think so. I think the Browns will split with Baltimore, and I think they have the potential to sweep the Steelers this season. I know I’m jumping ahead. It’s so funny because I think in terms of the schedule, I think AFC North and go out from there. But I have them splitting with Cincinnati and Baltimore. So yeah, Weeks 14 and 15 are both going to be losses.
Ben: So I had you 7-6 after Cincinnati. We both did. You have them losing at home to Baltimore. I’m going to give you a win there, which means we divert there. You have them at 7-7 and I have them at 8-6 after Baltimore. So I actually have them sweeping Baltimore because I have them winning that away game, which would be a big ask. So I have them at 8-6. I’m going to give you a win against New Orleans to get you to 9-6. How about you?
Meredith: Yeah, I think so.
Ben: I’m going to give you a win at Washington to get you to 10-6.
Meredith: I know. Washington is my hometown team, but …
Ben: So there you go. I got you to the playoffs. You’re welcome, Browns fans. Send me a Venmo. So with Jacoby Brissett starting the first six, I got you to 11-6 and that will get you into the AFC Playoffs. At which point Deshaun Watson will … I’m not going to say he’s going to get hurt because you can’t predict injuries. That’s not nice, no matter how it is. But somehow I have Baker Mayfield coming back and leading you in the playoffs. I’m mostly kidding. But I sincerely think I got you to 11-6 and that’s where my money is right now.