This season for the Cleveland Browns will be considered a success no matter the result of their playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Right now the Cleveland Browns are playing with house money. The 2020 season went significantly better than anyone could have realistically imagined. Considering another new coaching staff, an offseason that presented a different set of problems, and question marks all across the roster. Things were stacked up against the Browns and yet they found a way to go 11-5 and make the postseason.
Cleveland will be without their head coach Kevin Stefanski due to testing positive for COVID-19. Joel Bitonio and KhaDarel Hodge will also miss the game because they also tested positive. Are the Browns in a situation where they should be completely counted out? Absolutely not, but there is a clear reason why the Steelers are favored on Sunday night. In addition to playing at home and having previous playoff experience, Pittsburgh has a more complete team at this moment in time.
When the clock has 0:00 on Sunday night and the game is final it is important to keep things in perspective. There is a wide variety of ways that things could have played out this season and making the playoffs did not seem all that likely. The Browns have a clear offensive identity and found a way to make things work with Baker Mayfield. Cleveland’s coaching staff has done an excellent job in being a professional group that has more often than not put the team in a position to succeed.
It is about stepping stones, building things up in order to be considered a contender and not a pretender. What the Browns have managed to do is show that they are trending in the right direction and could be building something sustainable. Even if Cleveland finds themselves on the wrong side of a large score differential it is about keeping in mind where they’ve been and where they’re going. Win or lose on Sunday the 2020 season has been a success and there is no disputing that.