It looked like the Cleveland Browns were dead in the water against the rival Baltimore Ravens in a pivotal AFC North battle on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. Once again, Deshaun Watson was failing to advance the ball offensively, nor was he able to take care of possession. However, Watson came alive late in the game and looked like the quarterback he was in Houston, playing a crucial role in Cleveland's epic come-from-behind victory on the road.
Although the win doesn't quite put Cleveland at the top of the division with Baltimore still boasting a slightly better record at 7-3, Browns fans now have every reason to believe they can win the division, especially if the comeback is a sign of things to come at quarterback. The passing game has been the only glaring area of weakness, as Jerome Ford has more than stepped up in Nick Chubb's absence.
Yet the biggest reason for optimism might not be the head-to-head wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and Ravens. Everything in the NFL is about what you are going to do next, and what's on the horizon for the Browns should have the "Dawg Pound" licking their chops.
Browns schedule gives them a huge edge in AFC North
Trying to predict strength of schedule at the beginning of the season is essentially useless, because you have no idea how teams are actually going to do until the campaign is well under way; it's also too early for a full 17 games to be indicative of who really has it easier.
However, by Week 10, we have a better idea of the contenders and pretenders in each conference, and with less than half of the season to go, the difficulty of the remaining matchups can make the difference when there are tight margins in a division race.
No division is more competitive from top to bottom than the AFC North. So the Browns having an easier, on paper, schedule to close the campaign is a pretty big deal. It gives the Browns a distinct advantage in a division battle in which the four teams are a maximum of two games apart from each other in the standings. All of them are legitimate playoff-worthy teams - even Pittsburgh with their highly questionable, Matt Canada-led offense.
The Ravens are first in the AFC North for now, but after beating them on the road and with a considerably easier set of games ahead, Cleveland legitimately look like the favorites. But since it's all on paper until it's official, you had better believe Kevin Stefanski won't have his Browns resting easy.