When you look at the 2021 NFL schedule for the Cleveland Browns, one thing stands out the most. Cleveland will play the Ravens twice in a span of three weeks. In week 12 Cleveland will travel to Baltimore for a Sunday night matchup. The Browns have a bye week the following week and then host the Ravens in week 14.
Cleveland fell to the Ravens twice in the 2020 season. The first time around was a 38-6 thumper, second time was a 47-42 shootout. The Browns found their offensive identity by the time the second matchup came around. The defense was still just as mediocre, though. Both teams won 11 games last year. All of that is in the past and both teams looked to have improved this offseason.
These two matchups in three weeks can be looked at a couple different ways. With Cleveland having a bye week in between and the Ravens playing the Steelers, Cleveland holds an advantage there.
If the Browns defeat the Ravens in that first matchup, Cleveland could head into the bye week with a lot of momentum. On the other hand, Baltimore would have to play the Steelers. Always a tough matchup, no matter how good the Steelers are expected to be. Off the win Cleveland would have a week of rest and likely open as the favorite in that second matchup.
In event that Cleveland loses to Baltimore, they have a week in between to get things right before that second matchup. It’s simple, this three week stretch could be the deciding factor for the AFC North in 2021. The two best teams in the division playing twice in three weeks is a gauntlet.
On the NFL’s part, this is a pretty silly act of scheduling. Seeing these two teams play at two different parts of the season would be much better for both sides. How far the teams have come would have the potential to be displayed. Teams don’t change a ton over the matter of two weeks, instead they’ll just focus on quick adjustments and a couple plays going their way.
Baltimore-Cleveland matchup should be great for television viewership two weeks in a row. Baker Mayfield going up against Lamar Jackson will be the talk, two guys that hope to get extended sooner, rather than later.
In the end, AFC North fans in general will know who the best team is in the division between the weeks 12 and 14.