By Around the NFL staff
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It’s time for another round of bold predictions, but this week’s edition of fearless prognostications includes a macho helping of audaciousness and abandon. Instead of simply making seemingly reckless predictions about this week’s games, the ATNFL crew is forecasting what will happen by the end of the regular season. Warning: these predictions are not for the faint of heart.
Browns finish winless
I’ve written about the Browns a handful of times in the bold predictions this season, and for good reason: I learned football through the Browns. Starting with their first preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings in 1999 at the then Cleveland Browns Stadium, I spent every Sunday with Tim Couch, Kevin Johnson, Darrin Chiaverini and the lovable losers. It has been in my family for decades and continues — my niece attended her first Browns game (a 21-7 loss to the Chicago Bears) at six weeks old.
I first learned the Browns, and then the other 31 teams, which in 2002 expanded to 32 (did you know theTexans were supposed to have white helmets, not blue?). And for the first time in their 68-season history, they’re primed to go winless. That’s right — the Browns are going 0-16.
This is as much bold as it is sad. As the Cavaliers begin their title defense and the Indians recover from a heartbreaking defeat in the World Series, the Browns are careening toward rock bottom. But the future remains bright.
It’s difficult to go 0-16. It’s more likely that they’ll eventually pull one out. But these are bold predictions, and we’re going bold by placing the Browns among history’s worst. They’ll finish winless, joining the 2008 Detroit Lions, enter the offseason with the first pick in the 2017 draft and look ahead to better days. Coach Hue Jackson has begun the shift in culture, as evidenced by the effort the Browns put into each game, which inevitably ends in crushing defeat. Small strides will be made on the field, which will serve as encouragement for the future. The front office will continue to do its best to stock the team with talent. They’ll give their best shot at retaining recently acquired Jamie Collins and work with a gob of salary-cap space in the coming years. But it will come with a meeting with the record books for the worst reason in 2016. The night is always darkest before the dawn.
— Nick Shook
To read the full midseason bold predictions from the Around the NFL writers, click here.