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Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Cleveland Browns schedule analysis

By Pat McManamon

NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South Predictions

Breakdown: A tough start and a tougher finish could make for a tough first season for coach Mike Pettine, as the NFL gave the Browns a schedule most coaches don't like. Included is a Week 4 bye, which means the Browns play 13 in a row to end the season, something no coach wants. That's tough for a team that's young and growing and could lack depth. The Browns open in Pittsburgh, then play New Orleans and Baltimore at home. The final stretch includes games against the Colts and Bengals at home, with road games at Carolina and Baltimore to end the season. Those four teams combined to go 42-22 last season.

Complaint department: An opener in Pittsburgh sounds exciting, and probably is. But to the Browns lately, trips to Pittsburgh have been like pouring iodine in an open wound. The past two years the Browns ended the season in Heinz Field, then fired their coach. The year before was the Colt McCoy concussion game on Thursday night. The Browns have not won in Pittsburgh since 2003. Pettine boldly said there's no better way for a coach to start his career as Browns coach than in Pittsburgh, but in this case he's facing a monumental challenge right out of the gate.

In the middle: The first three games and last four are tough, but in the nine games between the Browns face only one team that had a winning record in 2013: Cincinnati. If the Browns are going to take any steps forward this season they have to survive the open and finish, and make some hay in the middle.

Strength of schedule: 26th, .465 | Vegas over/under : 6.5

Browns Regular-Season Schedule (All Times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7, at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, New Orleans, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21, Baltimore, 1 p.m.
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 5, at Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12, Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19, at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26, Oakland, 4:25 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2, Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 10: Thursday, Nov. 6, at Cincinnati, 8:25 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16, Houston, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23, at Atlanta, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 30, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, Indianapolis, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21, at Carolina, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.