Schedule Increases Pressure on Crennel

The Browns coach, in a make-or-break year, may have a make-or-break month...

If this is truly a make or break year for Romeo Crennel, the Browns coach should have an idea by the end of September whether he should start contacting a real estate agent.

For the ninth time in nine years, the Browns will open the season at home. The Steelers visit at 1 p.m. Sept. 9 to get the season rolling. The Browns are 1-7 in season openers.

By the end of September the Browns will already have played half of their AFC North schedule, all at home. They host Cincinnati Sept. 16, play in Oakland Sept. 23 and host the Ravens Sept. 30.

"I think that's very unusual," general manager Phil Savage said. "I don't know if it's ever happened before. It will be an important month for us."

Playing so many home games early means a large portion of the schedule later in the season is on the road. In the 10 weeks following the home game against the Ravens the Browns play in Cleveland Browns Stadium only three times -- against the Dolphins Oct. 14, vs. the Seahawks Nov. 4 and vs. the Texans Nov. 25. Included in that 10-week span is a bye Oct. 21.

Browns' opponents for 2007 had a combined record of 130-126 in 2006. Only four of the 13 teams the Browns play qualified for the playoffs last season -- Baltimore, New England, the Jets and Seattle.

The Browns are one of only four teams not rewarded with at least one prime time game on Sunday, Monday or Thursday night. The others are Oakland, Detroit and Tampa Bay.

In 2004 the Browns were 4-12, just as they were in 2006, and in that year they had the third pick in the first round, just as they do this year, but in 2005 they still got a prime time game when they played on a Sunday night in Pittsburgh. They lost 34-21.

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