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The 2021 Cleveland Browns schedule is officially out, and we have all had some time to digest the peculiar-looking 18-week season. Although the extra week of games makes the schedule seem a bit strange, a certain portion of the Browns schedule catches the eye when looking it over. In Week 12 the Browns will travel to Baltimore to play on Sunday Night Football followed by a bye week in Week 13 and a home game with the Ravens at 1:00 p.m. EST in Week 15.
The Week 12 game in Baltimore is one that gets highlighted immediately. It is in primetime on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, and it is the first time the Browns will meet the Ravens in 2021. All AFC North games carry extra significance, but the Ravens appear at this point to be the Browns greatest competition to win the AFC North in 2021. Not to mention they lost twice to them last year including potentially the best NFL game of the season in Week 14 at home on Monday Night Football 47-42.
The Browns were able to exercise quite a few demons last season on their way to an 11-5 record and the divisional round of the playoffs, however the Ravens were not one of them. In order to take the next step, they will need to at least split with the Ravens 2021.
Advantages of unusual schedule with Ravens
Playing the Ravens twice in three weeks with a bye in between does have some built-in advantages. First, the Ravens do not have a bye in between the two games and must travel to Pittsburgh in Week 13. The Browns will be able to rest, recover and adjust for the second match-up with the Ravens for two weeks while the Ravens must play another AFC North rival.
Another advantage of the scheduling with Baltimore is the freedom to focus only on Baltimore for three straight weeks. The Ravens are difficult to prepare for. Lamar Jackson and their run-first offense requires specialized preparation. It is unlike any other offense they face all year. Not having to get ready to face them on two separate occasions in between matchups with other opponents lightens up the rest of the schedule and allows the Browns to block off a three-week period in which they can dedicate their attention to the Ravens’ unique style of play.
The fate of the AFC North will be tremendously impacted during these three weeks. The importance of the Browns’ ability to get a win against Baltimore is paramount in 2021. To be able to focus on just this matchup for three weeks is a luxury and not one afforded equally to the Ravens. Head coach Kevin Stefanski and his staff will get two weeks to adjust to whatever happens on Sunday night in Week 12. Moreover, they get to come home for the second matchup allowing the Browns players and coaches to be home for two straight weeks. Meanwhile, the Ravens will travel to Pittsburgh and then face the Browns in Cleveland in back-to-back weeks.
At first glance, Weeks 12, 13 and 14 on the schedule made many double-check to make sure it is not a mistake or a misprint. Now with some time to take a hard look at the schedule, it presents the Browns with an auspicious opportunity. When you take the Ravens out of the rest of the schedule it lightens the load on a week-to-week basis while simultaneously allowing them to dedicate three consecutive weeks to winning what likely will be the most important games on their schedule.