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NFL Power Rankings: Browns back to middle of pack at No. 15 heading into Week 3

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By: Chris Pokorny

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh gains ground, but are still behind the Browns.

Here is a summary of how the Cleveland Browns are viewed across mainstream media outlets in NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 3 of the 2023 NFL season.

CBS Sports – No. 17 (down 10 spots)

Deshaun Watson is struggling and therefore the offense is as well right now. Losing Nick Chubb for the year with a knee injury is a tough blow to handle.

ESPN – No. 16 (down 5 spots)

The Browns’ All-Pro running back suffered a serious left knee injury Monday night against the Steelers and is likely done for the season. Chubb still has one more season left on the contract extension he signed in 2021 but has no guaranteed money left on his deal after this year. Running backs, even elite ones, no longer carry the value they once did in the modern NFL. Chubb has been the heart and soul of Cleveland’s offense for several years. What the Browns do now, in light of Chubb’s injury, will be one of the next big storylines regarding star rushers. – No. 13 (no change)

The awful Nick Chubb injury cloaks everything right now. You just can’t replace Chubb, although Jerome Ford showed real heart Monday night. What worries me is that Chubb’s absence puts more on Deshaun Watson and the pass protection. Two of Watson’s three turnovers were returned for touchdowns, vaulting a stagnant Steelers offense to victory. Deshaun’s interception might go down as a “drop,” but the ball was not well-thrown. His first fumble was huge, until his defense bailed him out. No such luck on the second one. Some of his throws were wildly off-target. And what’s up with 30 penalty yards from the quarterback? The whole situation just gives me the willies right now, even if this defense deserves a lot of credit.

Sporting News – No. 15 (down 4 spots)

How much can the Browns win defense and the running game? Watch out if they can start seeing the better version of Deshaun Watson soon and they need him badly with no Nick Chubb.

Yahoo Sports – No. 10 (down 1 spot)

The Browns need much more out of Deshaun Watson. It didn’t matter as much before Monday night. But then Nick Chubb suffered an awful season-ending injury and the offense is on Watson’s shoulders going forward. From what we’ve seen through Watson’s eight games with Cleveland, that’s not a good thing.

Bleacher Report – No. 16 (down 5 spots)

Trips to Pittsburgh have long been nightmares for the Cleveland Browns. But Monday’s may have been the worst of them all. Because the team’s 2023 season may have just imploded. Disaster struck quickly—Deshaun Watson’s first pass attempt of the game was intercepted by Steelers edge-rusher Alex Highsmith and returned for a touchdown.

That was only the beginning. Star tailback Nick Chubb was carted from the field later in the first half after a shot to the knee so gruesome the television crew refused to show the replay. You don’t need to be a doctor to know that the season is over for the engine of the Cleveland offense.

Reserve running back Jerome Ford did what he could to keep the Browns in the game, tallying 106 rushing yards on 16 carries. But he got zero help from Watson, who still looks like the shaky, rusty, inaccurate quarterback we saw last year. Watson completed just 22 of 40 pass attempts and lost a pair of fumbles, including one that was returned for the game winning score.

To recap, the Browns lost the heart and soul of the offense for the season. The team’s $230 million quarterback didn’t play measurably better than Kenny Pickett, who, um, wasn’t good. And now the team has to try to figure out a way to keep what was supposed to be a promising season from spiraling out of control. They won’t. Because Cleveland.

USA Today – No. 15 (down 9 spots)

They’ve already become a M*A*S*H unit – no loss more concerning than what’s expected to be a season-ending knee injury suffered Monday by RB Nick Chubb, who’s pretty much been Cleveland’s offensive identity for the duration of his sterling six-year career.

Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.

Bengals Browns Ravens Steelers
CBS Sports 21 17 5 16
ESPN 18 16 6 15 12 13 7 17
Sporting News 19 15 7 18
Yahoo Sports 12 10 7 15
Bleacher Report 14 16 7 24
USA Today 17 15 7 13
Average 16.1
(down 5.8)
(down 4.9)
(up 2.0)
(up 0.8)

What do you think of the Browns’ ranking this week?

Originally posted on Dawgs By Nature – All Posts

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