2. While Baltimore will not permit fans in the stadium during week one, Cleveland plans to host 6,000 fans during its week two home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals Sept. 17 and its week three game against the Washington football team on Sept. 27. The team hoped its safety precautions, which include socially distancing fans and requiring masks, would be enough to get 14,000 fans in the stadium. The ruling from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also counts for games in Cincinnati, and both organizations hope a successful September leads to further expanding restrictions.
3. Speaking of the week two home opener against Cincinnati, the Thursday night matchup at FirstEnergy Stadium is the Browns' first of two nationally televised games this season. The hype, of course, centers around a budding cross-state rivalry between Baker Mayfield and rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, the Athens-born Ohioan who won the 2019 Heisman Trophy and National Championship at LSU. Burrow has been named the Bengals' week one starter, as expected. The second nationally televised game is on Sunday Night Football Dec. 14 against the Baltimore Ravens.
4. Tailgating at the Muni Lot is still prohibited, at least through the first two home games. Cars will be prohibited from parking in the lot two hours before game time. Luckily, the Browns and Platform Beer Co. have collaborated on a new Muni Lot beer we can drown our sorrows in.
5. The Browns matched up surprisingly well against the Ravens last season. While Baltimore was the NFL's breakout team of 2019, the Browns beat them handily in Baltimore last season. Sure, they sorta spanked us — though with a suspended Myles Garrett and a coach on the brink of being fired — when they returned in week 16, but don't write off week one as a lost just yet. Watch the full week four win against Baltimore here.
6. Baker Mayfield has something to prove. In his third season, with national media calling 2020 his make-or-break season, the quarterback must prove to the Browns organization that he's worthy of his No. 1 draft slot — especially since the Browns have added even more weapons and help on the offensive line. If not, we could see the end of the Baker Mayfield era sooner than expected.
7. Kevin Stefanski, the Browns new head coach, comes with a great resume on the offensive side of the ball. The 38-year-old from Philadelphia was previously the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, where his offense ranked top 10 in scoring and rushing. He favors the running game and, like Baker Mayfield, the tight ends in the passing game.
8. Luckily, the Browns are deep when it comes to tight ends. In addition to newly signed superstar Austin Hooper, David Njoku and rookie Harrison Bryant should likely see time.
9. Solidifying the team's investment in the position, Hooper inked a $44 million deal with the Browns this offseason, making him the second-highest paid tight end in the league. Read more about the Browns newest pass catcher.
10. Rookie tight end Harrison Bryant has been a pleasant surprise to the Browns coaching staff this offseason. After being named best rookie at training camp, the graduate of Florida Atlantic University, who earned the John Mackey Award for the NCAA's best tight end last season, has been named the No. 2 tight end on the depth chart.
11. All of this leaves David Njoku in a precarious situation. The 2017 first round draft pick, whose career so far has been marred with injury, requested a trade this offseason, but later tweeted he was "all in" on Cleveland. While he sits at No. 3 on the depth chart, he'll likely see some action in Stefanski's tight end-heavy offense.
12. The Browns still have one of the baddest backfields in the league. The running back duo of Kareem Hunt, 2017's leading rusher, and Nick Chubb, 2019's second leading rusher, is a 1-2 punch almost no team can rival. Hunt, who missed the first half of last season, is expected to take a larger pass catching role this season.
13. Hunt, a Willoughby native, signed a two-year, $13 million contract extension. The move adds some assurance to the Browns backfield, as Nick Chubb will likely demand big money if he can repeat his 2019 success.
14. Left tackle Jedrick Wills, the Browns' 2020 first round pick, has a steep climb to success. Not only did he move from right tackle to left tackle this offseason, but the rookie only had about a month of in-person practices before his debut. Former left tackle Joe Thomas urges the Browns to "be patient" due to the COVID-marred preseason, but still has "super high" expectations.
15. Odell Beckham Jr. and Mayfield have told fans that their chemistry is going to be "better than last year." Beckham, one of the most talented receivers in the league, had one of the least productive seasons of his career last year.
16. On the defensive side of the ball, Myles Garrett is back in action. The defensive end, who started out gunning for the sack record and ended up setting the record for longest suspension for an on-field incident in NFL history, signed a five-year contract extension worth $125 million. All accounts say he's ready to earn every bit of that pay this season.
17. The rest of the Browns defense is a little murky. While Garrett and cornerback Denzel Ward add some experience and certainty, cornerback Greedy Williams, linebacker Mack Wilson, linebacker B.J. Goodson and others are all battling injury. Luckily, the Browns added safety Ronnie Harrison from the tanking Jacksonville Jaguars.
18. The Browns kickers are having a competition — a mullet competition. Kicker Austin Seibert and punter and holder Jamie Gillan are reportedly going head-to-head in a contest to see who can grow the best mullet. Seibert mostly sports a buzzcut, while Gillan famously has luscious locks. The kicker has seen some growth during quarantine, but our money is on the punter.
19. "It has to stop," says Baker Mayfield. In addition to the organization joining a social justice partnership with the Cleveland Indians and Cavs, team leaders Jarvis Landry, Larry Ogunjobi and others announced their dedication to education, police reform, economic advancement in Black neighborhoods and throughout the community, and initiatives to increase voter turnout and registration.
20. Week one of the 2020 playoffs is Jan. 9. The Browns haven't appeared in a playoff game since 2002, when the team blew a 24-7 lead against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But all it takes is one year to rewrite the story. Here we go, Brownies.
8:00 AM EST
September 9, 2020