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Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Cleveland Browns schedule analysis

By James Walker

Breakdown: The Cleveland Browns ended last season as arguably the hottest team in AFC North, winning four in a row to finish the year 5-11. With new leadership led by team president Mike Holmgren, optimism is back within the organization.

The Browns' strength of schedule is tied for No. 10 in the NFL, which is surprising considering their record. But the other three teams in the division -- the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers -- all finished with winning records.

To have a chance to be competitive, Cleveland will have to make a steep climb out of the AFC North basement. That is not an easy task.

Complaint department: The Browns will have a tough go at it starting in mid-November when the team plays four of five games on the road. Cleveland will play at the Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati in a five-week span from Nov. 21 to Dec. 19.

This is not a good sign for Cleveland. If the team happens to surprise and remain in the playoff hunt around Thanksgiving, an immense road slate like this could put an end to postseason dreams quickly.

"We have a challenging stretch towards the end of the year with four of five games on the road, and I expect our team to show the same resiliency as they did at the end of last season," Browns coach Eric Mangini said in a statement.

The streak is over: Cleveland hosted an astounding 11 consecutive season openers until that streak was broken this year. The Browns will travel to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sept. 12 to kick off the 2010 season.

Perhaps the Browns needed to avoid Cleveland in Week 1. The team was 1-10 in its previous 11 season-openers at home, including five losses in a row.

Browns Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, Kansas City, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, at Baltimore, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3, Cincinnati, 1:00 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, Atlanta, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24, at New Orleans, 1:00 PM
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7, New England, 1:00 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14, NY Jets, 1:00 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28, Carolina, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, at Miami, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, at Buffalo, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26, Baltimore, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM