Mocking a season schedule is gaining ground on mocking the first round of a draft.
Our first-ever -- and probably last -- Browns schedule mock draft
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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland. He has covered the Browns since 1984.
How ‘bout a mock?
Mock draft? Naw. Those are so 2000s.
Besides, the Browns don’t have a first-round pick until, what, 2025? Geez, by then they might have that land bridge over Route 2 under construction.
No, we’re talking about a mock draft of the 2023 Browns schedule. Our first-ever schedule mock. Yes, it’s come to that.
The real Browns schedule will be released Thursday at 8 p.m. when the NFL’s latest tent-pole event – the unveiling of the entire NFL schedule – takes place on NFL Network.
How long before the NFL makes this a travelling road show, like it’s done with the draft? Can’t you see this coming?
“Live from Cleveland, Ohio, home of the Great Land Bridge over Route 2, it’s the 2025 NFL Schedule Release Show!! I’m Rich Eisen and we have you covered from every corner of the NFL. Before we unveil who will be playing the Cowboys in Week 1, place your bets with your favorite betting app on when your favorite team will get its bye week.”
Can’t wait for that.
Anyways, on to the 2023 schedule.
In the third season of the odd, 17-game schedule, the Browns have nine home games and eight on the road. They’ve fallen off the national radar screen as a “team to watch,” which isn’t a bad thing. Drama has died down, as Deshaun Watson gets back to being a football quarterback and not a birdie in the badminton game between Texas celebrity lawyers.
Nationally, the Browns are projected in the middle-of-the-pack, fighting for one of seven AFC playoff seeds.
The new “teams to watch” this season, besides the obvious powerhouses, figure to be the Jets and Jacksonville in the AFC and Detroit in the NFC. They will probably receive more prime-time TV exposure than the Browns, believe it or not.
The Browns are always a draw, however, because of their passionate fan base. So we expect a few prime-time games.
Here is our first-ever Browns schedule mock. This is not what we think will happen on Thursday night. It’s how we’d like the real schedule to unfold.
Week 1: Browns at Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Sept. 10, 1 p.m.
What could be better than opening against raw rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson? The pressure of a home game in his first NFL start. Jim Schwartz would bring his bib from Saturday night dinner at St. Elmo’s. (We’ll be at Iaria’s. Bon appetit! ) Browns pad their 2-21-1 record in season openers.
Week 2: Home v. Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 17, 1 p.m.
Get this prison inmate game-of-the-week out of the way as soon as possible. Yuck.
(Bequeathed a 2-0 start by NFL schedule-makers, the Haslams donate $1 million to NFL Charities.)
Week 3: Home v. New York Jets, Monday night,, Sept. 25, 8:30 p.m.
Four days beyond the 53rd anniversary of the first “Monday Night Football” game involving the same teams in Cleveland, the Browns seek their first-ever victory over Aaron Rodgers (he’s 3-0 v. them). A rare personal appearance by the great Joe Namath enhances the occasion.
Week 4: Browns at Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Oct. 1, 1 p.m.
Short week. On the road. Ravens. OBJ waiting. Not good.
Week 5: Browns at Denver Broncos, Sunday, Oct. 8, 1 p.m.
At this point, Sean Payton and Russell Wilson will be in wedded bliss or be contemplating divorce proceedings. Denver is a good trip.
Week 6: Home v. Chicago Bears, Sunday, Oct. 15, 1 p.m.
A gimme, but Justin Fields will be better than his NFL debut in Cleveland in 2021, poor guy.
Week 7: Home v. Cincinnati Bengals, Thursday night, Oct. 19, 8:30 p.m.
Why not? Hosting a Thursday night game is such an advantage. And the NFL gives the Bengals a break with a short trip. Prior to the game, Joe Thomas is presented his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring.
Week 8: Browns at Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Oct. 29, 4:15 p.m.
This is a perk. A mini-bye week preceding the first trip to the West Coast.
(By the way, Kevin Stefanski does not get his wish to have both West Coast games scheduled back-to-back so that he can stay west-bound for a practice week, essentially to eliminate a second long trip. I’m OK with it. I’d rather have the extra flight miles in my favorite airline mileage account.)
Week 9: Home v. Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Nov. 5, 1 p.m.
Hopefully, OBJ is still healthy and playing. Before the game, he fashions a $5 million designer wristwatch in pre-game warm-ups, for old time’s sake.
Week 10: Bye week. Sunday, Nov. 12.
Week 11: Browns at Houston Texans, Sunday, Nov. 19, 1 p.m.
Watson’s second return to Houston. Lawyer Rusty Hardin hosts a Browns Backers party on Saturday night at the Neon Boots. Boot-skootin' good times.
Week 12: Home v. Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Nov. 26, 1 p.m.
Staying home on Thanksgiving weekend is a gift. If you’ve ever air-traveled on that weekend, you know what I mean.
Week 13: Browns at Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 3, 4:05 p.m.
This is a trip Browns fans who plan one road trip a year should make.
Week 14: Home v. Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Dec. 10, 1 p.m.
This is one month beyond the 23rd anniversary of Doug Pederson’s only victory as Browns quarterback in 2000. He’s the Jaguars coach now.
Week 15: Home v. Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Dec. 17, 4:15 p.m.
A flex to the FOX double-header game of the day. It’s the first Browns-Steelers game shown on FOX, as the networks give up their AFC-NFC affiliations.
Week 16: Home v. San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Dec. 24, 4:05 p.m.
“I’ll be home for Christmas …” Another gift from NFL schedule-makers. Third home game in a row. NFL sends the 49ers to Cleveland for a Christmas Eve game. The DeBartolo-Yorks host a pre-Christmas party in Youngstown. Napa, CA-bound Carmen Policy sends his regrets.
Week 17: Browns at Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 31, 1 p.m.
Huge game. Bengals clinging to top division spot. Browns in the hunt. Burrow/Watson. Chase/Ward. Happy New Year. Game of the year.
Week 18: Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers, Jan. 7, 1 p.m.
Good lord, I can hear “Renegade” blaring already. Good luck, Kevin.