With all the bad news that 2020 has brought us, let’s take a moment to celebrate a feel-good story: the Cleveland Browns are 4-1, their best start since Bill Clinton was in his first term as president. What’s more, their record isn’t the result of other teams playing poorly, at least not entirely; since losing badly to Baltimore in the season opener, Cleveland has scored more than 30 points in each of their past four games, including a 49-point outburst in a wild win over the Dallas Cowboys. In fact, they have the highest scoring offense in the AFC.
Their defense has been solid too. The Browns are tied for second with a +6 turnover differential and they’re giving up just 87 yards per game on the ground, good for fourth in the NFL. They’ve used the same formula the past two weeks in wins over Dallas and the Indianapolis Colts; get creative with the play-calling to jump out to a big lead in the first half, then let defensive playmakers like Miles Garrett take over in the second.
We’ll find out if Cleveland is for real when they face the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend, a team that has absolutely owned the Browns for over two decades (the Browns have defeated the Steelers just six times since the start of the millennium). With a perfect 4-0 record, another explosive wideout in rookie Chase Claypool, and a relentless pass rush, Pittsburgh looks like one of the best teams in the league. But Cleveland leads the league in rushing and if they can control the clock and force Big Ben to make a few mistakes, they could finally make good on the talent they’ve accumulated over their years of misery. Come to think of it, the Browns being one of the most fun teams to watch feels pretty on-brand for 2020.
Week 7’s other big matchup is the 4-1 Kansas City Chiefs traveling to upstate New York for a game against the 4-1 Buffalo Bills. The game was originally scheduled for Thursday Night Football, but with the Bills’ game against the Titans bumped to Tuesday, the NFL moved this to a 5pm ET start on Monday. The broadcast will be with the usual Thursday night partners: FOX and NFL Network.
Both teams are coming off shocking losses: the Chiefs dropped a home game to Derek Carr and a frisky Las Vegas Raiders team, while the Bills looked lost against the Tennessee Titans on Tuesday, which was particularly surprising since the Titans hadn’t practiced but twice in over two weeks as they dealt with a COVID outbreak. Both losses are likely anomalous but neither team wants to drop back-to-back games after starting 4-0. This should be a fun one, even for West coasters who will have to watch from work.
This is normally the part where we talk about COVID postponements but unlike the SEC, the NFL hasn’t had to reschedule any additional games this week. That isn’t to say teams haven’t been affected: On Thursday, the Atlanta Falcons shut down their facility after a staff member tested positive for coronavirus and a second rookie draft pick — defensive lineman Marlon Davidson — was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday. On Friday morning, the Indianapolis Colts closed their facility but it was reopened after the team confirmed the tests were false positives. And the New England Patriots cancelled practice on Friday after yet another player, reserve offensive lineman James Ferentz, tested positive for COVID.
We’ll update this post if any Week 7 games are rescheduled or postponed. Check out the full schedule below:
Bye Week: Raiders, Saints, Chargers, Seahawks
|Date||Time (ET)||Away Team||Home Team||Channel|
|Sun, Oct 18||1:00 PM||(1-3) Denver Broncos||(2-2) New England Patriots||CBS*|
|Sun, Oct 18||1:00 PM||(1-4) Houston Texans||(4-0) Tennessee Titans||CBS*|
|Sun, Oct 18||1:00 PM||(4-1) Cleveland Browns||(4-0) Pittsburgh Steelers||CBS*|
|Sun, Oct 18||1:00 PM||(4-1) Baltimore Ravens||(1-3-1) Philadelphia Eagles||CBS*|
|Sun, Oct 18||1:00 PM||(1-4) Washington||(0-5) New York Giants||FOX^|
|Sun, Oct 18||1:00 PM||(0-5) Atlanta Falcons||(1-4) Minnesota Vikings||FOX^|
|Sun, Oct 18||1:00 PM||(1-3) Detroit Lions||(1-4) Jacksonville Jaguars||FOX^|
|Sun, Oct 18||1:00 PM||(1-3-1) Cincinnati Bengals||(3-2) Indianapolis Colts||FOX^|
|Sun, Oct 18||1:00 PM||(4-1) Chicago Bears||(3-2) Carolina Panthers||FOX^|
|Sun, Oct 18||4:05 PM||(0-5) New York Jets||(2-3) Miami Dolphins||CBS*|
|Sun, Oct 18||4:25 PM||(4-0) Green Bay Packers||(3-2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers||FOX^|
|Sun, Oct 18||6:20 PM||(4-1) Los Angeles Rams||(2-3) San Francisco 49ers||NBC^|
|Mon, Oct 19||5:00 PM||(4-1) Kansas City Chiefs||(4-1) Buffalo Bills||NFLN/ FOX^|
|Mon, Oct 19||6:15 PM||(3-2) Arizona Cardinals||(2-3) Dallas Cowboys||ESPN|
^ Full game not available on Sling
*Games may be restricted based on market
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