Looking Ahead to Browns in Playoffs

January 3, 2024

Andy Billman Tony Camino

Never too early to start talking about playoffs!

1 – What gives you the most confidence in the Browns with the playoffs?

Andy – 

The Browns feel like a team that still has room to improve, and with QB Joe Flacco’s play and leadership, I firmly believe the Browns can still get better even as they head into the playoffs.  Specifically, the combination of Flacco and Amari Cooper has just scratched the surface.  

With all of the injuries, there is also the possibility of getting players back, like S Grant Delpit. 

Finally, this coaching staff has gotten everyone in Berea to buy into the team’s focus, belief, and emotion.  They have done a great job getting everyone to buy into the 2023 Cleveland Browns.  Even in 2020, with all of the success, they never felt organized, with everybody buying into the team.

Tony – 

The defense has had historic stretches this year, and their dominant play is what gives me the most confidence heading into the playoffs. Starting with their elite defensive line and a stout secondary, their ability to get after the passer and lock up in-man coverage has been a nightmare for opposing offenses. The evolution of the defense has led to them being able to disguise their coverages and make everything look similar.

Offensively, Amari Cooper creates separation unlike anyone else in the NFL, and Joe Flacco is calm and composed in the pocket. Most importantly, Kevin Stefanski is one of the best offensive minds in the game, and his scheme and play calling consistently create a lot of space for the offense to operate. Stefanski will be able to find the creases every week to get enough room to move the ball; it’s whether the players can execute or not.

2 – What gives you the most concern with the Browns in the playoffs? 

Tony – 

The offensive line has dealt with a multitude of injuries, as has every position this year, leading to the run game disappearing in spurts. Pass protection has improved of late, with Flacco and Stefanski finding creative ways to move the pocket and buy time to execute the desired concepts. The run game will have to pose some sort of threat if they want to make a serious run and be as effective as they were in the Jets game.

Andy – 

I am most concerned about the health of the Browns, and they can not sustain more injuries to specific position groups on the team.  Specifically at wide receiver and offensive line, they are thin currently at both.

My other big concern is turnovers.  The Browns turnover the ball a lot, and it is one thing to overcome turnovers at home against the Bears and Jets in the regular season, but it is a much different story in the playoffs on the road. 

3 – How should the Browns handle the Bengals game on Sunday?


I would rest players who need the time off, especially Cooper and Elijah Moore. With others, play a quarter to a half and pull players as the game progresses.  The Browns need to stay sharp, but not at the expense of risk of injury.  Finally, the Browns need some recovery time as they had an early bye week in the first week of October, so resting players is not just simply without justification.  Cleveland, with the injuries, has earned some time off. 

Tony – 

Rest all veteran starters and let some younger players get extended runs. With the early bye week, it’s been ages since the Browns were able to have real-time off, with physically demanding games and a West Coast trip mixed in. While we all wanted a home playoff game or maybe even the one seed, the Ravens winning last week guaranteed us a week off, which could prove to be more valuable in the long run. Ogbo Okronkwo was already back at practice, and others could be back as well. The Browns will go at least 16 days between games to get as close to full strength as possible.

4 – What team do you prefer to play in the AFC Wild Card round?

Tony – 

With the way the schedule looks, Jacksonville seems the most likely opponent. I would prefer the Colts first as they are the most average team by a wide margin. The Jaguars would be my second preferred team, followed by the Texans last. Kevin Stefanski is 10-0 against the AFC South in his career, so we can’t be too picky regardless.

Trevor Lawrence is pretty beat up, and the Browns already handled the Jaguars pretty easily. However, they are getting Christian Kirk back, and they have the talent and experience to make a run. Since we beat them near full strength already, I would prefer them over the Texans, but not over the Colts. Indianapolis is average in the air and good on the ground, but I would expect the Browns to have some better answers a second time around. Jacksonville’s defense is the best in the division, while the Texans’ offense is the best, making the Colts a milder opponent.

Andy – 

I would prefer to play Jacksonville, and Indianapolis would be a close second, but the Browns match up well with the Jaguars, and it feels like Jacksonville has lost steam as the season ends. 

With CJ Stroud and athletic playmakers on defense, Houston would be challenging for Cleveland the second time around.  

The most important player and or coach moving forward for the Browns in the playoffs – 

Andy – 

Joe Flacco 

Tony – 

Amari Cooper

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