CLEVELAND – There has come a point during almost every recent season when a simple question must be asked.
Can the Cleveland Browns win another game?
The answer: There is no easily apparent win on this season’s remaining schedule.
Which, summed up more succinctly, would be: No.
The Browns entered this season with high hopes of re-establishing their credibility after 0-16 and 1-15 seasons. The thinking went that though they might not challenge for the playoffs, they would be improved. With John Dorsey adding veterans and two picks in the top four of the draft and four in the top 35 to go with first overall pick Myles Garrett from 2016, there was hope for a turnaround.
That hope grew when the Browns unveiled Baker Mayfield in a Thursday night win over the Jets and followed that with an overtime win over Baltimore. A tie against Pittsburgh and close losses to Oakland and New Orleans made hope grow stronger.
But the Browns have lost four in a row by an average of 14.5 points to fall to 2-6-1. Injuries are mounting, and the team has fired its head coach and offensive coordinator, starting over with Gregg Williams and Freddie Kitchens.
Before Sunday’s game, ESPN Analytics gave the Browns a 7.2 percent chance to lose the rest of their games — against the sixth-toughest schedule in the league.
A look at the rest of the schedule shows how difficult the task is to find a win:
vs. Atlanta — The Falcons are not the same team that went to the Super Bowl, but it’s hard to see the Browns rebounding from the past two calamitous weeks to beat a team that scored 38 on the road against a Washington team that entered Sunday’s play ranked fourth in team defense.
Bye — The most welcome week of the season for this team.
at Cincinnati — A.J. Green’s injury hurts the Bengals, but Cincinnati has won seven in a row over the Browns and scored at least 30 points in six of those wins.
at Houston — The Texans have won six in a row after starting the season 0-3. Traveling to Houston makes this a tall task.
vs. Carolina — Cam Newton alone makes this game difficult. The Panthers also are 6-2.
at Denver — On paper, this game could be winnable; the Broncos are not all that. But if the stretch coming into this game goes the way it appears it will, the Browns will be a battered and beaten-down team at this point.
vs. Cincinnati — This might be the one best chance for a win — if the Bengals are out of playoff contention. If Cincinnati is playing it out, the Browns might have the wherewithal to pull out one win the second half of the season.
at Baltimore — The league seems to give the Browns a road finale against an AFC North team almost every season. And when the game arrives, the Browns are always staggering to a merciful finish to a miserable season. This finale has the same earmarks.