Browns have chance to get off to fast start

The just-released 2015 schedule is tough, but favorable in the beginning of the season.

It is no secret the Browns have a daunting schedule in 2015, ninth toughest overall in the NFL.

However, if the Browns are going to have a successful season in 2015, they need to get off to a fast start. Overall, the Browns opponents had a combined record of 138–116–2 (.543) in 2014.

History shows that teams that start 2–0 have made the playoffs 37.5 percent of the time, while teams that have gotten off to a 3–0 start have made the playoffs 75 percent of the time since 1990.

Contrast that to teams that start 0–2 have only made the playoffs 11.6 percent of the time.

The Browns have a great opportunity as their first three opponents had a combined record of 9–39 (.237) last year in the Jets, Titans and Raiders.

For the second-straight year, the Browns will start on the road. However, the Browns started at home 14 of the first 15 years, losing all but one time. The Browns only win was a 20–3 victory over the Ravens in 2004.

The Browns will open on the road for only the third time in 17 seasons since the franchise returned in 1999. Getting off to a slow start has set the tone for the Browns having losing seasons in all but two seasons since 1999. The Browns lost both times they started the season away. They lost to Tampa Bay in 2010 and 30–27 to the Steelers last season.

Here’s an early look at three games that could make or break the Browns 2015 season.

Game One Sept. 13 1 p.m. at New York Jets — 2014 record: 4–12

The Jets were just 4–12 last season and have a new head coach in Todd Bowles. The Jets are still trying to figure out if Geno Smith is their quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick was signed as a free agent to compete with Smith. The Jets could draft a quarterback high in the first round, as well.

Mike Pettine will return to play the Jets where he was defensive coordinator from 2009–12 under Rex Ryan.

A win over the Jets would give the Browns a jumpstart on the season in what looks like a very winnable game.

Game Two Sept. 20 1 p.m. Tennessee Titans — 2014 record: 2–14

The Browns home opener will be against a team that is also looking for their quarterback. The Titans drafted Zach Mettenberger in the sixth round last year and right now he is expected to be the Titans starter.

However, rumors persist the Titans might draft Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston, whoever is there with the second pick in the draft or they might trade the No. 2 pick for Philip Rivers.

The Browns defeated the Titans on the road last season with a dramatic record-breaking comeback and could start the season 2–0 with a home-opening win.

Game Three Sept. 27 1 p.m. Oakland Raiders - 2014 record: 3–13

The Browns third game is – at least on paper – another very winnable game with the Raiders coming off a 3–13 record in 2014. The Raiders have a new coach in Jack Del Rio and a second-year quarterback in Derek Carr.

After the opening three games, the Browns have only two games against opponents with non-winning records in 2014: The Rams (6–10) on Oct. 25 in St. Louis and the 49ers (8–8) on Dec. 13 at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The Browns have two nationally televised games against AFC North rivals, including a return to Monday Night Football for the first time since 2009 on Nov. 30 against the Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium at 8:30 p.m.

The Browns will also have a return trip to Paul Brown Stadium to play the Bengals on Thurs. Nov. 5, where the Browns defeated the Bengals last season in Cincinnati, on Thurs. Nov. 6.

However, the three games to open the season might be the Browns best chance in a long time to get off to a fast start.

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