NFL - US Sports: Cleveland Browns season preview
Controversy has followed the Cleveland Browns around for too long, but the trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson means the circus won't be leaving anytime soon.
Back-up running back Kareem Hunt, arguably the best backfield number two in the NFL, missed the start of training camp to underline his displeasure about an ongoing contract situation.
And as Watson awaits the outcome of an appeal against his six-game suspension, former franchise QB Baker Mayfield has revenge in mind as he prepares to face the Browns in Week 1.
A greater concern among fans is the front office's refusal to address a run-stopping issue that could prevent the Browns from being playoff contenders in 2022.
NFL Season 2022/23
All across the USA with three games scheduled for London, one for Munich and one in Mexico City
8th September 2022 - 12th February 2023
|How to watch|
The vast majority of games are live and on-demand with NFL Game Pass, while selected games are available via Sky Sports and bet365's Sports Live Streaming
|Odds||BUF Bills 5.50, TB Buccaneers 10.00, KC Chiefs 8.00, LA Rams 13.00, GB Packers 10.00|
Where did the Cleveland Browns finish last season?
3rd AFC North (8-9)
What are the Cleveland Browns' hopes for the season?
The Browns hope Watson leads them back to the playoffs, but with his return date yet to be fully determined, their postseason chances could be gone before he gets to suit up.
Cleveland are 1.86 to finish with more than 8.5 regular season wins, which would ensure their record is better than last year.
But the AFC looks so stacked with talented teams this year that it might take at least 10 wins to secure a wild card berth.
The Browns were 4-4 when they announced they would be releasing Odell Beckham Jr in November 2021 - a move that instantly appeared to divide the locker room.
So a season in which coach Kevin Stefanski can get cohesion and calmness back to the Browns' daily business would be a step in the right direction.
Who are the Cleveland Browns' opening opponents?
The Carolina Panthers host the Browns at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday 11th September with the big question being about who will be their starting quarterback.
Mayfield must be the favourite to get the role and he will be highly motivated to punish the Browns for giving up on him - even if Cleveland are effectively still paying a chunk of his salary.
A healthy Christian McCaffrey - running through gaps created by Carolina's top draft pick Ikem Ekwonu - will be a concern for a Browns' defensive line that couldn't stop the run consistently in 2021.
The New England Patriots put up 184 rushing yards against them in Week 10 - before the Baltimore Ravens ripped the Browns defence for 148 rushing yards in Week 12 and another 118 in Week 14.
Pittsburgh's Najee Harris ground out 115 yards in Week 8 and then, with a playoff berth on the line for the Browns, the rookie busted out for 188 of the Steelers' 190 total rushing yards in Week 17.
The Panthers are 1.80 on the Money Line with the Browns at 2.05 for the win.
When are the Cleveland Browns' key matchups?
The two Battle of Ohio matchups with the Bengals should be spicy, given Cincinnati are the reigning conference champions but Cleveland swept the series in 2021.
They meet for the first time this year on Monday night in Week 8 at FirstEnergy Stadium, before traveling south for an 11th December clash at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Browns have won the last four - but three of those were decided by five points or fewer - so it could come down to which kicker holds their nerve on the day.
The Browns ended their revolving door policy at the position when they drafted kicker Cade York in the fourth round this year.
Long-distance field goals have been particularly problematic for Cleveland kickers in recent years, but York made nearly 79 per cent of his field goals from 50+ yards at LSU.
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Who is the Cleveland Browns head coach?
Former Minnesota Vikings assistant Stefanski took over an ailing Browns team that had gone 17-62-1 across the previous five seasons and instantly turned them into winners.
He won AP coach of the Year in his first season after going 11-5 in the regular campaign and taking the Browns to the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
But things turned sour last year as conflict between former QB Mayfield and WR Beckham Jr divided the team but, with both players gone, he will be looking to reinstate the Browns as playoff contenders.
Which players have the Cleveland Browns signed?
QB Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans)
WR Amari Cooper (Dallas Cowboys)
DE Chase Winovich (New England Patriots)
LB Dakota Allen (Jacksonville Jaguars)
P Corey Bojorquez (Green Bay Packers
QB Jacoby Brissett (Miami Dolphins)
DT Taven Bryan (Jacksonville Jaguars)
WR Derrick Dillon (New York Giants)
QB Joshua Dobbs (Pittsburgh Steelers)
WR Jakeem Grant (Chicago Bears)
TE Nakia Griffin-Stewart (Kansas City Chiefs)
CB Lavert Hill (San Francisco 49ers)
S Luther Kirk (Atlanta Falcons)
CB Parnell Motley Waiver (Detroit Lions)
DE Chris Odom (Houston Gamblers)
C Ethan Pocic (Seattle Seahawks)
CB Reggie Robinson (Houston Texans)
DE Isaac Rochell (Indianapolis Colts)
QB Josh Rosen (Atlanta Falcons)
DE Stephen Weatherly (Denver Broncos)
WR Javon Wims (Las Vegas Raiders)
Which players have left the Cleveland Browns?
QB QB Baker Mayfield (Carolina Panthers)
QB Case Keenum (Buffalo Bills)
CB Troy Hill (Los Angeles Rams)
LB Mack Wilson (New England Patriots)
WR Rashard Higgins (Carolina Panthers)
TE Austin Hooper (Tennessee Titans)
FB Andy Janovich (Houston Texans)
WR Jarvis Landry (New Orleans Saints)
K Chase McLaughlin
QB Nick Mullens (Las Vegas Raiders)
CB M. J. Stewart (Houston Texans)
C JC Tretter
DE Takkarist McKinley
Who are the Cleveland Browns' key players?
CB Martin Emerson (2nd Round)
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Garrett enters 2022 at number five on the Browns' all-time list with 58.5 sacks and, with similar production to last year, he could move into the top three.
The 51 tackles and 16 sacks, both career-high numbers for him. He also had someone on the other side making noise as well with Jadeveon Clowney recording nine sacks on the season.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah had a solid rookie season, tallying 76 tackles, 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles across 14 games to earn a spot on the Pro Football Writers of America NFL All-Rookie Team.
The Browns need the former Butkus Award winner to progress further in his sophomore season to stop opponents from targeting them in the run game.