Introducing your 2023-24 Cleveland Browns
The Browns, Cleveland's most woebegone professional franchise, begins its 2023-2024 season Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals with high hopes bordering on desperation.
Why it matters: After paying quarterback DeShaun Watson the most guaranteed money in NFL history, owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam enter a pivotal year for the franchise.
- It's a prove-it season not only for Watson, but also for head coach Kevin Stefanski, who arrived in 2020 and led the Browns to their best season (11-5) since they returned to Cleveland in 1999, but whose track record has been middling ever since.
- Plus: The team's on-field performance is sure to inflect discussions about a new or renovated stadium.
Catch up quick: Watson missed 11 games last year due to a suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, the result of multiple sexual misconduct allegations.
- His performance over the final six games left much to be desired, a far cry from his career year in Houston in 2020.
What they're saying: "I don't want to return as the guy in Houston," Watson said this week. "I want to be better than that guy.
- "I feel like I've evolved to a new level, and I'm ready to be able to show that."
Zoom out: The AFC North is a notoriously competitive division, but the Browns, on paper, have all the weapons to challenge the Bengals, Ravens and Steelers, including all-pro running back Nick Chubb and an elite offensive line.
By the numbers: The Browns are at 4-1 (+400) odds to win the AFC North on FanDuel.
What we're watching: Sunday's 1pm matchup will be televised on CBS to much of the nation, so whether or not the Browns are ready for their close-up, they're getting it.
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